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UK Police: Two Arrested over London Airport Drone Disruption

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Local Editor

Two people have been arrested in connection with the "criminal use of drones" at London Gatwick Airport, police said Saturday, after three days of disruption in which and tens of thousands of people missed their flights.

Sussex Police Force Superintendent James Collis said two people were arrested shortly after 10:00pm (2200 GMT) on Friday, three days after drones were first sighted hovering around Britain's second-busiest air hub grinding the runway to a standstill and causing chaos for more than 120,000 people in the run-up to Christmas.

A statement released on force's website said the probe was ongoing, and officers were using "a range of tactics" to "build resilience to detect and mitigate further incursions from drones".

"We continue to urge the public, passengers and the wider community around Gatwick to be vigilant and support us by contacting us immediately if they believe they have any information that can help us in bringing those responsible to justice," the statement added.

"Every line of inquiry will remain open to us until we are confident that we have mitigated further threats to the safety of passengers."

After a limited re-opening of the airfield on Friday, the airport was forced to close again after a new sighting in a costly and embarrassing hunt for the perpetrators.

British media favored the option of a lone-wolf environmentalist attack. The airport has been in an ongoing dispute with its neighbors and environmental groups about expansion.

Police had been considering shooting down the drone, and military reinforcements were called in to ground the drone.

The Daily Mail reported that the army came equipped with a cutting edge “Israeli”-made anti-drone system known as Drone Dome.

The system by the “Israeli” entity’s Rafael defense technology firm, uses radar technology to spot a drone, and a frequency jammer to cut the vehicle from its pilot and bring it down to the ground softly.

Rafael describes the technology as an "end-to-end system designed to provide effective air space defense against hostile drones used by terrorists to perform aerial attacks, collect intelligence, and other intimidating activities."

The UK purchased six of the system, unveiled in 2016, in August for Middle-East operations, at a cost of close to US$ 3.3 million each.

Aviation chiefs are going to be on a steep learning curve to counter the security threat posed by drones after the costly and humiliating shutdown of Gatwick.

The fear is that if a drone smashed into a passenger plane or was sucked up into one of its engines, its highly flammable lithium battery could cause a catastrophe.

In 2016, the European Aviation Safety Agency logged 1,400 drone incidents in Europe, up from 606 between 2011 and 2015.

Source: News Agencies, Edited by website team

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