by Ariel Whitman
After repeated drone sightings bring second-largest U.K. airport to halt for 36-hours, British media highlight Israeli technology's role in solving crisis
Gatwick airport, Britain's second-largest, suspended flights for more than 36 hours last week due to repeated drone sightings, but thanks to Israeli technology its operations resumed over the weekend.
According to the Daily Mail, British troops that were deployed at the airport used "a cutting-edge Israeli anti-drone system to defeat the unmanned aerial vehicle" manufactured by the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. According to the site, the system essentially takes over the drone's operation and is already in use by British troops in the Middle East.
The system comprises a "high-tech radar and a laser rangefinder to locate drones," the Daily Mail reported. "Once the system has a lock on the drone, a radio frequency jammer is then used to overload the drone with signals - knocking out the commands from the unknown owner."
One of the Israeli companies that helped develop similar technology for nonmilitary use is Convexum, which is Latin for dome. Convexum co-founder and CEO Gilad Sahar told Israel Hayom: "We have a product that lets you take over drones that fly in urban areas so that they can be landed safely and in a pre-determined area. This tackles the immediate drone nuisance but also ensures it does not inflict harm, which is critical." According to Sahar the police snipers at Gatwick Airport could have shot down the drones but chose not to, fearing its unknown payload could explode or otherwise harm nearby aircraft.
British authorities detained a couple that lives close to the airport in connection with the drone sightings. The police said they may be charged for "criminal use of drones." Convexum has three layers of defense against drones: detection of the UAVs while airborne or on the ground; neutralizing UAVs on the ground; and taking over of UAVs while airborne.
Convexum's other co-founder is Niv Magen. Both he and Sahar served in the IDF Intelligence Corps's elite signal intelligence unit, Unit 8200. The company has not revealed where its products are in use.
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