The presence of drones recently forced the closure of Gatwick airport for three days, suspending 1,000 flights and disrupting the plans of about 140,000 passengers during the Christmas period.
The company describe the system as “an intelligent shield”, called ARMS (Anti RPAS Multisensor System), which detects the presence of drones kilometres away, apparently identifies the model and learns their weaknesses to neutralise them if they invade the space to be protected.
Indra’s ARMS system consists of a radar and infrared cameras that perform detection and identification tasks. Its electronic warfare sensors sweep the radio spectrum to determine the type of link, frequency or navigation system used by the drone.
The company say it has tested its solution in countries where this type of threat is much more common and dangerous than in Europe. The extraordinary results obtained have made Indra one of the first companies in the world to have signed firm agreements with government clients, after meeting highly demanding criteria.
According to a statement issued by the firm:
“The solution is so effective that it can be used in a precise manner to disable a single drone, in a ‘surgical’ intervention, or a whole swarm of drones, applying more aggressive measures. If an invasion occurs from different points simultaneously, it activates a full protection dome.
Its ability to modulate the response is key to operating in an airport without interfering with aircraft electronic equipment and it makes this system unique in the market. It can also be integrated with the tower or control center systems to exchange information and be able to detect immediately any object that if flying without authorisation.”
The system can also be adapted to incorporate hard-killing techniques to shoot down the aircraft.
The situation experienced by London airports is not new. In August 2017, Arlanda airport, in Stockholm, was also forced to close for the same reason for one hour. Pilots from all over the world regularly report cases of lesser severity but that generate excessive uncertainty to the aeronautical sector, which historically has been obsessed with safety.