Reported rogue drone sightings resulted in the Gatwick airport being repeatedly forced to close between 19 and 21 December affecting near about 1,000 flights. Now the Ministry of Defence (MoD) has said that the military hardware deployed to stop drones disrupting flights at Gatwick airport has been withdrawn.
A MoD spokesman said, “The military capability has now been withdrawn from Gatwick. The armed forces stand ever ready to assist should a request for support be received.”
The anti-drone equipment can detect and jam communications between a drone and its operator and was deployed on a roof at Gatwick. The system said to have a range of several miles uses four radars to give 360-degree detection in order to identify and track targets. Media reports say that an Israeli-developed Drone Dome system was used at the airport by the British Army.
More than 140,000 passengers were affected by cancellations and delays during the 36 hours of chaos. Then another sighting on 21 December said the airport prompted “military measures” that provided “the reassurance necessary that it is safe to reopen”. Gatwick said it had spent £5m to prevent future attacks.
However, even after a serious investigative operation the Sussex Police made no arrests. According to Sussex Police Chief Giles York, in an interview with BBC radio, police searched more than two dozen potential launch sites but still haven’t settled on where the drones where launched from. He also mentioned receiving 115 reports of sightings in the area, including 93 that had been confirmed as coming from “credible people” including a pilot and airport staff. Police are still searching for the culprits.
Some reports of drones in the area may have involved the police’s own craft, he said, but added that he was “absolutely certain” that a drone was flying near the airport’s runways during the three-day disruption.
Police remain clueless primarily because of the lack of a motive, no sign of any suspects neither the said rouge drones. British police found two drones near the airport but ultimately determined they weren’t involved in the actual incident.
While the Gatwick airport standstill was a bane for several travellers, some film makers found this the appropriate moment to garner likes and views for their upcoming rogue drone film by launching its trailer. The Drone is directed by Jordan Rubin, the man behind Zombeavers – a horror about college students being attacked by a swarm of ‘zombiefied beavers’. The trailer for The Drone which is totally ludicrous according to some presents the dark consequences of what happens when technology gets a mind of its own, and sees couple Rachel (Alex Essoe) and Chris (John Brotherton) battling with the rogue drone as it takes over their cars, spies on them while they’re in the shower and hacking security systems. The Drone premieres at Slamdance in Utah at the month end and ‘The Drone 2: Gatwick Strikes Back…’ could well be the perfect plot for its sequel.