The UK’s Ministry of Defence has taken the decision to withdraw military personnel and equipment from London’s Gatwick airport.
The measures were deployed in the run-up to Christmas after drone sightings near the airfield grounded air traffic and led to 1,000 flight cancellations over the course of 36 chaotic hours.
140,000 passengers were impacted as police were said to be in a game of cat and mouse with an apparently determined and well-prepared individual or group.
You can read more about events at Gatwick and how they unfolded here.
Questions remain over Gatwick drone disruption
The step to withdraw military equipment – thought to include the Israeli-developed Drone Dome system – is interesting, to say the least. Particularly as Sussex Police are still hunting for those responsible and don’t appear to be any closer to understanding what happened.
The force said it was investigating “relevant sightings” from 115 witnesses – 93 of whom are described as “credible”. These include airport staff, police officers and a pilot. However, Chief Constable Giles York has admitted that some of the drones spotted may have been those the police were using to investigate the area.
Despite mixed messages from those responsible for the investigation, York has now confirmed that he is “absolutely certain” that there was a drone flying near the runway during the disruption. You’d like to hope he is right, and that the combined might of the British Army and law enforcement weren’t chasing their tails for 36 hours over a game of Chinese Whispers.
In a statement, the MoD said, “The military capability has now been withdrawn from Gatwick.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.”
Gatwick Invests £5m in Counter Drone Tech
According to the BBC, Gatwick Airport has now invested £5m in counter-drone systems to prevent future attacks. Understandably, airport officials would not comment on the nature of the systems.
But we’d imagine they’ve tried to cover as many bases as possible with as many technologies as possible. Apart from drone-hunting eagles, we hope. Inevitably one would go rogue and cause even more disruption. Surely enough laughter has been had at the UK’s expense?