On December 19, 2018, London’s Gatwick Airport shut down after a drone sighting that may have been specifically calculated to disrupt flights. The cost to the airport and affected airlines was estimated at more than $30 million with 140,000 passengers’ flights disrupted. To prevent further drone disruptions, both Gatwick and Heathrow ordered millions of dollars of military-grade anti-drone technology shortly after the attacks. And both Canada and the U.K. are looking at legislating more severe drone regulations to avoid incidents of malice or terrorism made possible by drones.
In the U.S., anti-drone technology continues to be a top priority for the military. Recently, Waltham, MA-based Raytheon Company announced it will deploy two prototype high energy laser weapon systems to troops overseas under a U.S. Air Force contract. The Air Force experimentation includes 12 months of in-field operation against unmanned aerial systems and operator training.
“Every day, there’s another story about a rogue drone incident,” said Stefan Baur, vice president of Raytheon Electronic Warfare Systems. “These threats aren’t going away, and in many instances, shooting them with a high energy laser weapon system is the most effective and safest way to bring them down.”
The company’s anti-drone high energy laser weapon system (HELWS) uses pure energy to detect, identify and instantly take down drones. It can target a single drone with precision. The HELWS is paired with Raytheon’s Multi-spectral Targeting System and uses invisible beams of light to defeat hostile unmanned aircraft systems. Mounted on a Polaris MRZR all-terrain vehicle, the system detects, identifies, tracks and engages drones.
The contract follows successful demonstrations of Raytheon’s directed energy systems for the Air Force and the U.S. Army.
Source: Raytheon Company