Heathrow airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, has halted flights after a drone sighting.

An official said the airport was working with police to prevent any threat to operational safety.

London’s Heathrow Airport is the second busiest airport in the world by international passenger traffic, as well as the busiest airport in Europe by passenger traffic, and the seventh busiest airport in the world by total passenger traffic. It is one of six international airports serving Greater London.

In 2017, it handled a record 78.0 million passengers, a 3.1% increase from 2016.

In December last year, hundreds of flights were cancelled at Gatwick Airport near London following reports of drone sightings close to the runway. The incident caused major travel disruption, affecting about 140,000 passengers and over 1,000 flights. It was the biggest disruption since ash from an Icelandic volcano shut the airport in 2010. On the 21st of December, Sussex Police arrested a drone enthusiast and his partner who lived near the airport, who were released without charge on the 23rd of December.

The RAF withdrew from Gatwick on the 3rd of January 2019 after Gatwick spent £5 million on a system to prevent attacks. During the crisis, it had been reported that the British Army had been deployed and would be using the Drone Dome – an Israeli-developed counter UAS system – at Gatwick, but the Ministry of Defence later confirmed that the RAF Regiment had been deployed and were using an alternative system as the Israeli one had not yet been delivered.

Security minister Ben Wallace recently announced that “The huge proliferation of such devices, coupled with the challenges of deploying military counter measures into a civilian environment, means there are no easy solutions… However, I can say that we are able to now deploy detection systems throughout the UK to combat this threat.”

More on this as it develops.

34 COMMENTS

  1. It’s getting ridiculous.

    I wonder how quickly they would deal with them if they hovered in front of Buckingham palace or over Downing street. Quickly I suspect.

    Meanwhile this costs millions due to paralyzing elf and safety issues.

  2. Don’t fret mate, We’ll soon have those Involved, Banged Up, just like the Gatport Airwick lot. Makes you wonder how We’d cope with a few Thousand Incoming Russian Missiles though. Doesn’t It ??????????

      • I’m afraid to say I don’t think we would.

        Our entire military structure is basically to provide the best expeditionary force we can muster. Home defence isn’t and hasn’t been on the adgenda since the 50’s really.

        God knows!?

        • My Flabber has been totally Gasted over the years due to this one Major Omission Truth be Known. We seem to have the grand total of Bugger All Air Defences unless I’m missing something.

          • Well to be fair that would apply to the other side too.

            Hardening has been sadly neglected.
            At least many of the discarded RAF Stations which had HAS are still MoD owned maybe they and their runways could be re used?

            Could a HAS survive a modern missile?

            Dispersal of aircraft we have to minimise impact.
            Some station HQ were hardened. I assume still are.

            As for fixed assets we are knackered like everyone else unless Typhoon or Cyber can down them. I can point out easily on GE every major military site in the UK including the ones with underground areas, which are well known.

            And unlike the Americans we have not dug too deep, using old Rotor sites or semi sunken bunkers easy to hit. With a few exceptions of course.

            My point is air defences or not fixed installations would be an easy target, starting with the RRH around the country.

            I think though the point is rather mute if someone is launching thousands of ASM at the UK deterrence, nuclear or not, has rather failed.

    • Not exactly the same thing is it? Incoming russian missiles are likely to cause mass destruction and therefore the risks of shooting them down are far outweighed by the benefit of knocking them out of the sky. A drone over a populated area that is not necessarily a direct danger to anyone is not the same as the risk of shooting it down and hurting people in the process is worse than just leaving its batteries to run out.

      • The HAS that are used here in the UK will not protect anything against a modern missile or LGB attack. The HASs here were built to an inferior standard compared to those in Iraq – which used double concrete sandwiching an absorbent sand layer and steel armoured doors. The 1000lb LGBs went straight through, the RAF even skipped bombed, using a 500lb, a HAS on H1 straight through the armoured doors. At the height of the cold war, it was believed that Warpac accuracy wasn’t great and the HAS would deflect blast and shrapnel. However, today with the aid of GPS, most SSMs will have a CEP error of less than 15m meaning our HASs will be next to useless in a direct strike. The only option we have is aircraft dispersal to remote sites and to keep moving the aircraft about. This will be OK for F35s and Typhoons, not sure how the P8, Wedgetail and other large aircraft would cope.
        The Wedgetail, Typhoon and F35s will be the primary layer of air defence followed by Land Ceptor and Starstreak. The T45s will be too busy to maintain an air defence posture for the UK. But they would be best as the second layer or even better if we had the money a land version of the PAMM system.

    • What would that rethink be? You can cause havoc with lots of things. There are hundreds of thousands of drones in the UK and only a handful are used in this way. There are already laws that are supposed to prevent this. Look at the number of cars that are used for nefarious purposes or the number of knives used to kill people.

  3. Not really. Just shoot them down with shotguns and announce that perpetrators will be charged with terrorist offenses.

    Regarding the comments about defending the country from thousands of missiles – No country in the World could do that. If we seriously tried, we’d bankrupt ours. We ought to have the ability to stop a few rogue missiles, though. It might be time for anti-missile defenses for key military bases.

    • Nick, I’m going to sleep a hell of a lot easier tonight knowing that we are no different than any other Country.

    • I don’t think you can simply shoot them down with shotguns etc. remember the shotgun bullets have to land somewhere so it would have to be very carefully thought out.

      • Pellets not bullets. Also not a issue if you actually hit the target and use bird shot. Not enough range on a shotgun to be much of a concern as long as they are careful where they are standing when shoot.

        • A shotgun isn’t exactly a Phalanx, is it? I mean, rounds from that raining down are a cause for concern. A few pellets landing in the open spaces in the airport would be negligible, but I would understand concerns over FOD and airlines being jittery over damage to aircraft – whatever munition is used.

          • A decent seagull sh*t on the back of the head will hurt more than than falling shot. Been ‘rained on’ by it dozens of times. Wouldn’t even knock the skin off a rice pudding.

            Regarding air defences at key military installations… it’s astounding that it doesn’t exist organically for Barrow, QRF airfields and other key radar installations including GCHQ. A massive conventional first strike could potentially cripple all of the above. I do have to say I’ve always thought this a little reckless.

    • Which is more dangerous a government of evil geniuses or one made up of well meaning idiots? Remember hope is the oil on the fires of misery.

  4. I believe the issues with shooting down had more to do with the problems of evacuating the local area.

    If the shotgun is not guaranteed to bring the drone down and it flew on damaged and then crashed into some car windscreen while going at 70 on the M25 who’s arse is being sued?

    Them upstairs don’t have the balls for basic decisions never mind that sort of thing.

    • A tiny lead bird shot pellet having consumed all energy and is and is only dropping back to earth on its own weight? Then impacting the safety glass of a car windshield at a angle?
      You can’t sue over something that you did not notice or did no damage.
      Stop getting your firearms information from people who don’t own them and shoot regularly. A shotgun is not a magic death stick that kills everything you point it at.

  5. Build two more runways at Heathrow. And get a drone intercept team stood up at the airport with high powered lasers that can track and lock onto drones using software and fry them. If you use a drone near airports you will lose it should be the slogan.

  6. Most domestically bought drones operate on two frequencies, 2.4GHz and 5 GHz. The 2.4 is used to control the drone whilst the 5 is used for camera operation. The easy solution would be a jamming bubble over the airport. However, 2.4 GHz is also used with 4G phones, wifi and bluetooth, so there will be a lot of upset people who will be unable to use their phones etc under the bubble.
    The long term solution would be for Ofcom to change the frequency that drones use to one that’s not used by phones etc, then it would be really easy to put a jamming bubble over the airport.
    The problem with trying to shoot down the drone with a shotgun is that a shotgun will only have an effective range of 100ft. If you’ve tried hitting clays at this range you know how hard it will be to shoot down a moving drone. The best two kinetic methods for taking out the drone would be either as the Dutch are doing and training birds of prey, or use another “interceptor” drone to either kamikaze into the target drone or fire a net at it.

    • 100ft? You don’t hunt do you. Birds are shot at up to a hundred yards with the right choke on the barrel. It all depends on practice and skill.
      Remember the average civilian drone is made out of crap materials and eggshells plastic. You don’t have to destroy it just make it crash.

      • I do shoot and you won’t hit a non clay target with spread with any effect at 100yards. You might hit it with a slug at that range but it isn’t rifled so not accurate especially on a moving target but you will have an ounce of lead flying through the air. A high gram charge with narrow choke MIGHT give you decent chance at 60 to 70 yards. If you do happen to hit a clay at 100yds with a couple of pellets from your spread it would probably chip because it’s designed to. A couple of pellets to a drone at 100yds will do the best end of f-all.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here