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Security

C-UAS technology leaves Gatwick after pre-Christmas disruption

04 January 2019
A Leonardo Falcon Shield C-UAS unit (circled) pictured on the roof of a building at Gatwick Airport on 21 December 2018. The technology has now been withdrawn but Gatwick and Heathrow are investing in C-UAS solutions after the former was shut for prolonged periods on 19–21 December. Source: Getty Images

Military counter-unmanned aircraft system (C-UAS) technology has been withdrawn from Gatwick Airport after a two-week deployment.

The UK Ministry of Defence confirmed on 3 January that the Royal Air Force (RAF) team has been stood down.

Gatwick was forced to close for prolonged periods between 19 and 21 December after multiple sightings of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) were reported near the airport’s single runway. More than 1,000 flights were cancelled or diverted, and about 140,000 passengers were affected.

On 20 December, in response to the severe disruption during the peak pre-Christmas travel period, the UK government implemented Military Aid to Civil Authorities (MACA) procedures to assist Sussex police and Gatwick. As a result, RAF personnel were deployed to provide C-UAS coverage at Gatwick, using Leonardo Falcon Shield technology (minus its RF jamming capability).

On 24 December UK Security Minister Ben Wallace announced that military-grade C-UAS equipment could be deployed to other airports experiencing similar incidents. “The huge proliferation of such devices, coupled with the challenges of deploying military countermeasures into a civilian environment, means there are no easy solutions,” he said. “However, I can say that we are able to now deploy detection systems throughout the UK to combat this threat.”

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To contact the author of this article, email Ben.Vogel@ihsmarkit.com


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