It is noted that illegal drones are a growing problem for airports, utilities, and factories. In this regard, companies such as Thales have sought to expand their production to take advantage of market opportunities.
Thales announced that its subsidiary company Aveillant is now helping to protect Heathrow Airport. It has thus deployed its anti-drone system as part of a global solution carried by Operational Solutions to help keep the country’s busiest airfield free of drones.
This unique “Counter Drone” system makes it possible to detect and track drones that are operating illegally in the surrounding airspace and to quickly alert airport authorities to unauthorized overflights. In addition, the Aveillant system also works to locate the drone pilots themselves and can be used to identify their location.
Aveillant has notably developed a holographic radar, the Gamekeeper 16U, which differs from conventional systems with a rotating antenna. Unlike conventional gyratory radars that scan the sky discontinuously, holographic radars are capable of emitting a continuous stream, ideal for tracking very small maneuvering targets such as drones. This technology also makes it possible to spot a drone several kilometers away.
The radar (anti-drone system) is able to detect, track, and classify small Unmanned Air Systems (sUAS) within the Flight Restriction Zone (FRZ), which extends out to 5km of any airport boundary and thus protects critical infrastructure and their environment.
“The safety and security of our passengers and colleagues is our number one priority. That is why we’re investing in this new cutting-edge technology, which will enhance our capabilities in the detection and deterrence of drones in and around our airfield,” said Jonathan Coen, Director of Security for Heathrow Airport Ltd.
However, it is not clear how the Heathrow Airport system works to disable unmanned drones after detecting them.