back to article A few reasons why cops haven't immediately shot down London Gatwick airport drone menace

As the Gatwick drones chaos rolls on, with the airport now set to reopen at 8pm UK time at the earliest*, many people have been asking a simple question: why the hell can't the authorities just shoot down the offending drones? Like all simple questions, the answer is complex. Counter-drones tech is a new field and not quite as …

  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How about a high power laser burst ?

    since light will not fall down to the ground.

    1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge
      Alien

      Somewhere, deep in space, three hundred years hence...

      Not on Earth. But do we really fire the first shot in a war with the aliens, just to reopen Gatwick?

      1. The Oncoming Scorn
        Childcatcher

        Re: Somewhere, deep in space, three hundred years hence...

        Today's Dilbert seems almost on topic for your comment (https://dilbert.com/strip/2018-12-20).

        Icon: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

        1. This post has been deleted by a moderator

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

            our great, great, great grandchildren will be too busy head-butting the floor 5 times per day

            Unlikely, nothing runs on a straight-line projection. If anything, the future is more likely to see the ascendence of something unexpected.

            More likely our descendants will be too hampered by the ecological fallout of the rampant unrestrained capitalism of the last few generations - plastic poisoned people and plastic poisoned oceans.

            1. RancidRodent

              Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

              "More likely our descendants will be too hampered by the ecological fallout of the rampant unrestrained capitalism of the last few generations - plastic poisoned people and plastic poisoned oceans."

              Rampant capitalism? Was Gordon Brown nationalising private debt capitalism? Real capitalism would have seen the banks fail. Over the last couple of decades the state has spent ~45% of GDP - that's a command economy - and if you take how much of that GDP is actually borrowed money - the state actually spends ~70% of what we actually EARN as a nation - not the silly GDP nonsense. This is most certainly not capitalism. The biggest problem facing mankind is not plastic bottles - it's the third world doubling its population every 30-50 years - or don't they need resources? But of course an ecoloon would dare not mention the bleedin' obvious - coz that would be wayyyciist!

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

                > Real capitalism would have seen the banks fail.

                Because bailing them out, so they barely suffered + the culprits kept their profits... sure has taught them a lesson.

                /s

                Not a lesson the general public will benefit from either.

                1. tfb Silver badge
                  Big Brother

                  Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

                  The response to the 2008 crash has been deficient: large banks should have been split up forcibly, some senior bankers should have gone to jail.

                  But if they had not been bailed out the banking system would have failed, and that's an event which makes a no-deal brexit look really mild. There was no option but to bail them out: there was an option to fix the systemic problems later which was missed.

              2. Rich 11 Silver badge

                Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

                it's the third world doubling its population every 30-50 years

                Your information is 30-50 years out of date, as indeed is your terminology. But given the content of the rest of your rant I doubt you'll care.

                1. Anonymous Coward
                  Anonymous Coward

                  Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

                  As is he ....

              3. ChrisBedford
                Megaphone

                Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

                Rampant capitalism? [...unintelligible rant with lots of numbers...] ecoloon [...more ranting...]

                OK I think I geddit, you're pro something capitalism related. But try to remember the UK is but a small part of the world economy the largest part of which - the US - is without any shadow of a doubt rampantly capitalist, has been for a long time, and shows no signs of slowing that particular train any time soon. And it's also obvious there is more broken in their society and economy than there is that works, so maybe it's not completely incorrect to say there's a real possibility that dealing with the aftermath of that could be a much higher priority than the incredibly remote chance of having to deal with aliens who take offence at a burst of laser light aimed at taking down a drone.

                Which, is, after all, the topic.

                However your apopletic essay could be said to be somewhat *off* topic :D

                1. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

                  Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

                  Probably the most rampant capitalist economy today is Red China, consuming most of the world's coal in its power stations. But that would not suit the dreamy lefty eco-narrative.

              4. Paul 195

                Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

                @RancidRodent

                Only someone with a poor grip on reality thinks our problems are caused by the third world. Because poor people don't consume many resources or contribute much to global warming. Bravely pointing out an irrelevance makes you look silly. I can't comment on whether you are racist as well or not.

              5. Justthefacts

                Re: Won't someone think of the great, great, great grandchildren.

                You don’t seem to understand the difference between capitalism and a free market economy.

                This is absolutely capitalism max, plus a slightly less than free market.

                The experiments of Ayn Rand have been done, and the results are available for everybody to see, without debate.

                Totally unregulated free market: Somalia and Yemen. Failed state. Quickly dissolves capital, and hence capitalism, which is no match for the true free market.

                Pure capitalism: a command economy *easily* beats a free market, economically, with its hands tied behind its back. China is key exponent of this approach. Once again - communism and capitalism have absolutely *nothing* opposite about them. The truest capitalism is a command economy of factory bosses. That’s Putin’s Russia too. Putin just isn’t as good a capitalist as Xi.

                The problem is neither of these systems is very compatible with democracy. Nor does democracy necessarily maximise GDP. Nobody claimed it did.

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          Re: Somewhere, deep in space, three hundred years hence...

          I think an XKCD comic that I'm not bothering to search for pointed out that nearby stars are a few years or a few decades away in terms of their light reaching us, not usually centuries etc. Your laser beam might reach a close star in a bit over four years, and then, maybe, they could shoot back. That would deal with the drone problem worldwide, at least.

          Unless they sent this drone in the first place. Have they tried playing John Williams music at it?

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: Somewhere, deep in space, three hundred years hence...

            Have they tried playing John Williams music at it?

            The score for Superman might upset them if they've been oppressed by Kryptonians in the past.

            1. illiad

              Re: Somewhere, deep in space, three hundred years hence...

              Has no one seen 'mars attacks' ???

              a scientist makes a machine that translates their 'neek neek' sounds to mean 'peace' - hilarity and death follows!!! :D :D

              John Williams music could be translated as a threat of war.... :P :D

              1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

                Re: Somewhere, deep in space, three hundred years hence...

                So, let's use Jeff Wayne's material instead. ...What?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Somewhere, deep in space, three hundred years hence...

        yeah, imagine that invasion fleet parking by the Moon c. 4357, cause your fucking lasers burnt our xiva's 46dgGs last week, you shitty earthlings! Die, die, die!

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Somewhere, deep in space, three hundred years hence...

          All your basins belong to us.

          Damn we will have to use bowls instead

      3. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: Somewhere, deep in space, three hundred years hence...

        Not on Earth. But do we really fire the first shot in a war with the aliens, just to reopen Gatwick?

        Of course!!!

        GATWICK TO THE STARS!

        Plus, NYT pseudo-economist bloviator Krugman would be pleased as an alien invasion provides mucho reasons for ramping up Keynesianist policies!

      4. ShadowDragon8685
        Alien

        Re: Somewhere, deep in space, three hundred years hence...

        I'm going to assume you were just making a joke, but in case you weren't, a burst of laser fire, even a weapons-grade laser, fired from the surface of the earth would have defocused to harmlessness by the time it reached the moon's orbit, and would have become utterly undiscernible compared to all that light coming off the sun by the time it reaches interstellar space; and that's before factoring in the Earth's atmosphere, which is going to even further diffuse and absorb it.

        (To say nothing of what the body of a drone would do to it.)

        1. gotes

          Re: Somewhere, deep in space, three hundred years hence...

          But.. Chairface managed it so it must be true!

          CHA

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How about a high power laser burst ? (or things I saw in Star Wars)

      How about a high power laser burst ?

      or

      Why not a Phaser Blast or Neutron Cannon or simple Psionic Disrupter ?

      .....

      Oh! ... hang on, I don't have *any* of those either in my back pocket / Car Boot / Helicopter !!!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ? (or things I saw in Star Wars)

        simple Psionic Disrupter

        Oh, you men ye Guardian?

      2. macjules Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ? (or things I saw in Star Wars)

        Nah, none of those. How about using a man-portable Railgun? Wouldn't have to worry about the projectile dropping out of the sky as it would go on into the atmosphere.

        Of course, the fact that man-portable Railguns only exist in Arnie movies is totally irrelevant ..

        1. ShadowDragon8685
          Boffin

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ? (or things I saw in Star Wars)

          Any magnetic acceleration weapon which was man-portable would have a range profile similar to that of a conventional firearm. A magnetic accelerator and a propellant weapon must still obey the fundamental laws of physics - for every action there is an equal-and-opposite reaction.

          It's unlikely a handheld mass driver would significantly exceed the performance of conventional firearms. We can already build handguns and rifles that have far more power and throw far more bullet than "standard" weapons, but those weapons are not widely used because they're three and three-quarters bitches to fire.

          To put it another way, sure, a handheld rail-rifle might say "fuck your cover, you, and the six guys behind you," but so would a .50 Barret. You still don't use the damn thing like a carbine because it will append "... And my shoulder" to that statement.

          1. tfb Silver badge

            Re: How about a high power laser burst ? (or things I saw in Star Wars)

            Can you do the bazooka thing with a rail gun? In other words fire something backwards as well so the momentum transfer to whoever is holding it is small? Such a thing obviously has limited uses though: I'm not seriously suggesting it.

            (Also it's no better than a rifle from the safety perspective and in fact worse: whatever it fires will fall somewhere as nothing man-portable is firing anything with orbital velocity.)

      3. Tom Paine Silver badge

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ? (or things I saw in Star Wars)

        ...how about an Electron Ram?

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ? (or things I saw in Star Wars)

          How about giant Fresnel lenses in orbit? Burn 'em down like ants under a magnifying glass!

    3. This post has been deleted by its author

    4. Quarak
      Trollface

      Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

      A superlative idea sir with just two minor flaws, one, we dont have any high power laser bursts and two, we dont have any high power laser bursts. Now I realise that technically speaking thats only one flaw, but I thought it was such a big one it was worth mentioning twice.

      1. Cragganmore

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

        https://www.mbda-systems.com/press-releases/ministry-of-defence-finalising-high-energy-laser-demonstration-programme-with-uk-dragonfire/

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

          Craggamore,

          I know it exists BUT not at Gatwick and the Military are not going to loan their latest toy to 'Plod' in case they scratch the paint or something ;) :)

          Also it would be a bit embarrassing if it could not hit the target !!!

          Simplest solution is a HUGE cordon of Police walking inwards towards Gatwick Airport.

          The drones may fly away but the people will not be able ;) .... particularly as Gatwick is shut !!! :)

          All they need is 20,000 Police to cordon off the area, in secret :)

          1. LadyK

            Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

            Small problem with that, I doubt we have 20,000 police in the entire country never mind in the London area.

            As for being secret, usually the kids near me can spot an undercover cop from miles away. At least I'm guessing that's the reason why they haven't caught the anti-social little darlings by now rather than the totally obvious excuse of being completely effing useless

            1. Peter2 Silver badge

              Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

              Small problem with that, I doubt we have 20,000 police in the entire country never mind in the London area.

              Where on earth do you get your figures from?

              https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/police-workforce-england-and-wales-31-march-2017

              Police officers 123,142

              Police staff 61,063

              Police Community Support Officers 10,213

              Designated Officers 4,255

              Special Constables 13,503

              = 151113 police, excluding the 61,063 police (office) staff.

              That's a mite more than 20k in the entire country.

              Just for comparison, the British Army strength (including the Infantry, Royal Armored Corps, Royal Electrical & Mechanical Engineers, Royal Artillery, Army Air Corps etc) is 81,500 regulars and in theory 27,000 in the army reserve, a goodly known number of which only exist on paper due to the well covered problems as a result of handing over recruitment to Capita.

            2. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

              Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

              When I have chatted to people from police-state regimes, they tell me they can spot most of the secret police. Probably not all of them, though.

              1. Tom Paine Silver badge

                Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

                "...the Comrade General found your joke with the flowers very amusing."

          2. J.G.Harston Silver badge

            Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

            What if the people controlling the drones are nowhere near Gatwick? The Mercians have been bombing Afghan weddings from the comfort of the American midwest.

            1. cray74 Silver badge
              Paris Hilton

              Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

              The Mercians have been bombing Afghan weddings from the comfort of the American midwest.

              I thought the Danes took care of the Mercians a bit before drones became a common element in warfare or lodging stern objections to weddings.

      2. FlamingDeath Bronze badge
        Joke

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

        "we dont have any high power laser bursts"

        Lies!

        We're the world leader in high power lasers, didn't you know?

        We British are the world leaders in just about everything...

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

          "We British are the world leaders in just about everything..."

          I've read that here in ElReg's "comments" section for years, so it must be true!

    5. NoneSuch
      FAIL

      Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

      Lord.

      Just imagine if Churchill stopped the Spitfires from flicking the wings of V1 Buzz Bombs, because it might scratch the fighters paint.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

        The risk-reward equation is rather flipped, there. A V1 that continued on course was likely to kill someone. A drone is not going to kill someone unless you zap it and it lands on someone's head.

        Also, minor niggle -- the Spitfires didn't actually touch the bombs. That would be too risky. They used their planes' wingtip vortexes to make them bank, in a way the primitive autopilot in the V1 couldn't handle. Basically they sent them out of control using wake turbulence.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

          ...vortices..

        2. Primus Secundus Tertius Silver badge

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

          That was until the V1s were booby-trapped to explode and take out the offending plane.

      2. W.S.Gosset Bronze badge

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

        > Just imagine if Churchill stopped the Spitfires from flicking the wings of V1 Buzz Bombs, because it might scratch the fighters paint.

        Typhoons/Tempests, mostly. Had the low-altitude speed. Spits could only catch V1s temporarily by diving.

        But yeah, wholly agree with your actual point.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

          More top the point, what if the RAF had to get permission from all the property owners below before being allowed to fire their guns?

          All y'all seem to have been thoroughly beaten into submission by the namby-pamby set in the last 70 years. Sad, that.

          1. Rich 11 Silver badge

            Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

            All y'all seem to have been thoroughly beaten into submission by the namby-pamby set in the last 70 years

            It's true that we don't have free-fire zones in our back gardens, Jake. I know that some Americans find that quite upsetting, but on the whole it works for us.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

              Who said anything about a "free fire zone" (whatever that is)? Certainly not I. Especially not in my back garden ... the Whippets need no help killing squirrels and other rodents, TYVM.

              Regardless, it would appear that it is not working for you.

              1. John Robson Silver badge

                Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

                "Regardless, it would appear that it is not working for you."

                So how many mass shootings have there been this year in the US?

              2. rmason Silver badge
                Facepalm

                Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

                Yay! America would have dealt with the drones by now, well done.

                All it costs you is multiple tens of thousands of deaths a year, every year. Great! Sign us up.

          2. hmv

            Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

            You'll find that the rules of engagement are slightly different when there's a war going on.

            1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

              Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

              What about marriage?

          3. gotes

            Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

            I'd be more concerned if my country outlawed the sale of certain offal/blood products for human consumption than the possession of firearms. Though TBH I'd prefer a firearm over eating haggis.

            Yes jake, I'm sure you make the best black pudden in California. If you do: good on you. OT, sorry.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

          Interestingly enough, first real use of Tempests and Typhoons not commonly used. Also first use of Meteors in a combat role. The Meteors couldn't accelerate like a Tempest but had plenty of speed; so the Tempests could stooge around and look for a V1 then use their power to get up to speed very quickly but the Meteor's had be be travelling pretty fast to start with as they couldn't accelerate quick enough otherwise.

      3. Jemma Silver badge

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

        A Polish pilots thoughts on the matter, over R/Te.

        "Repeat, please"

        I'm reminded of a godawful American film, airliner goes back in time to 1940 gets pasted by Me262 a1a, with afterburners yet, no less than 5 at which point we find the passenger compartment is impervious to mk108 fire, but the landing gear isn't... That's about where I gave up.

        How bloody hard would it be to have put in a defence plan against this, they're already using birds of prey to catch drones.. If you really want to do it on the cheap - put a tactical shotgun into a Mosquito model aircraft - ala the tsetse fly.. Just imagine getting paid for *that* job..

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

          "put a tactical shotgun into a Mosquito model aircraft"

          Nothing could go wrong with that, no, not at all, maybe, sort of, we hope...

          1. Jemma Silver badge

            Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

            You have a point - but once we've ironed out the problems we can fly it down to Washington*...

            But my point still stands. This is a situation that's been a "going to happen" since drones were invented - how long does it take for someone to sit down and think about a solution.

            And for the people who do not know. In order to get an airworthiness certificate - any multi engined aircraft must demonstrate the ability to maintain altitude and controllable flight with 50% powerplant failure generally within sensible power settings for the remaining engines. If your new type can't do that - it doesn't fly. So for example a Mosquito or Hornet can fly on one Merlin/Griffon and a 747 can fly with 2 engines out - it can glide something like 2 miles per 1000ft of height without any power.

            Personally I'd have tested their resolve with an empty aircraft and volunteer pilots - if they really were gonna play silly buggers you'd soon know..

            * Fer Dickwit hunting.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

          The article already deals with that. Point 3, Too expensive and too complicated. Added to the fact it sounds like a large drone.

          Sticking a shotgun on a model aircraft has the problems that a) it's still firing projectile weapons potentially near civilians, b) it's flying a fixed wing plane at something that can go vertical very easily, c) there's the problem of where the debris goes. (Killing somebody to stop something that isn't actually endangering life is probably a PR no-no)

          (Debris is also the problem with firing a high powered laser at it)

          1. Jellied Eel Silver badge

            Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

            Sticking a shotgun on a model aircraft has the problems that a) it's still firing projectile weapons potentially near civilians, b) it's flying a fixed wing plane at something that can go vertical very easily, c) there's the problem of where the debris goes. (Killing somebody to stop something that isn't actually endangering life is probably a PR no-no),

            Guns on model aircraft also suffer a similar challenge as the A-10. Like managing recoil. Which the A-10 has already managed, and there are even scale model RC versions. Sans GAU-8 of course. A shotgun-style weapon would seem the most practical given a spread of projectiles would be more effective. Or a net laucher. But given mass of net, recoil would still be an issue.

            (Debris is also the problem with firing a high powered laser at it)

            If you leave more than an expanding cloud of vapour, then obviously you need MOAR POWAH! Which is the problem with laser weapons, ie being able to keep it on target until you've transfered enough energy into the target to do it any damage. Plus it'd be cheaper to compensate for damage caused by falling debris than it is for keeping a major airport closed.

            Once the drone's been recovered though, boffins can start planning better countermeasures. And we can be pretty certain that governments and airport operators around the world are lookng at their own anti-drone plans and countermeasures.

      4. JJKing
        Thumb Down

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

        The wingtip flick of the V1 is an urban myth. The V1s had an trigger that detonated the warhead if the gyros were toppled. Ergo, no more tipping wing aeroplane. Spitfire had to shoot them down coz they weren't fast enough to catch them. Typhoons, Tempests and the superb DH-98 were the only fighters fast enough to catch them. Ok, ok, so was the Meteor but with so little time in the air due to such a high fuel consumption, they were next to tit useless. Also, after destroying it with your 20mm cannons, ingesting V1 debris into your jet engine would make for an interesting day.

        1. graeme leggett Silver badge

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

          "Urban myth" implies didn't happen at all.

          The flip was used but not often. because it wasn't an simple manoeuvre and was resorted to when a pilot a ran out of ammo.

          Eg a 3 Squadron pilot "It wasn't impossible to tip them up but quite difficult. I only did it once.... I found that every time I put my wing under its starboard wing, it just skidded away; I had upset the airflow. On the next try I slipped my wing under it and immediately flipped my stick over to the right, and that tipped its wing right over and it just catapulted into the ground."

          The few Meteors available were only in use from late July (when seven aircraft were posted to Manston) to September (when the launch sites were overrun) against V1s. That and working out the kinks in the new fighter probably counted as much as low endurance against them getting a passable score.

    6. Pseu Donyme

      Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

      A tractor beam would seem more elegant.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

        the easiest solution is an armed mob. Just leave torches and pitchforks outside gatwick. Get all the affected people together and say 'go find the culprit then we open the airport'.

        Angry mobs always work in the films so it must work in real life right?

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

          They're very effective, but not against subtlety. 280 cops can't find the pilot, and a chiropody practitioner got lynched in the UK by idiots who thought that "pedophile" was spelled "podiatrist". So, no.

          1. Glen 1 Bronze badge

            Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

            Lynch must have a different meaning where you come from. Her house was vandalised, but she wasn't strung up from a lamp post.

            And it was a pediatrician not podiatrist. (Doc for kids, not for feet), and was 18 years ago.

            Source

            Source talking about the distortion of events

            Unless you're talking about a different event? In which case - source please.

            1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

              Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

              Pedofiles typically advertise as such.

              Especially intelligent people understands this.

      2. Denarius Silver badge

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

        No, eyesight risk also. Many many years ago I read of a Swiss short range tactical anti-aircraft EMP weapon. Used a smooth-bore howitzer (120mm IIRC) firing a special shell. Shell used gas generation to power a electro-magneto-hydrodynamic (hope I got that right) generator feeding a cavity resonator that emitted a brief 10MgWatt EMP pulse. Cannon bore was the wave guide. Intended to fry aircraft electronics in an oncoming ground attack. Single shot per shell but if drone is over airfield or fence in a no fly zone many of the risks are mitigated Source: International Defence Review , early 1980s.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

          M is M

          Mg? Milligram is mg. Mg might be the lesser know cousin mega gramme?

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

            Don't be wet. Clearly what was meant was MW

    7. MacroRodent Silver badge

      Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

      How about focused microwaves? Would fry the electronics -> drone falls.

      1. Doctor Evil

        Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

        That would be a maser. The technology already exists. Why not?

    8. JCitizen
      Megaphone

      Re: How about a high power laser burst ?

      The best defense is another drone. I've seen the demonstration already on video - the defending drone fires a net at the offending drone and it attaches a parachute which forces it to fall to the ground. Needless to say the airport operator would have to be skilled to pull it off; but I saw in happen on this video, so it is very possible.

      https://youtu.be/jvdKNBSWPyU

  2. Rob Fisher

    No gumption

    A lot of these objections amount to a lack of gumption. Nothing is without risk. You have a problem. You go out and solve it, even if it involves a little risk. And you jolly well get on with it, instead of dithering about. Shooting it from a helicopter or flying a net into it (with a helicopter or another drone) seem somewhat plausible. Yes, it might land on something, but that bill will probably be cheaper than the bill already faced.

    1. Geoffrey W Silver badge

      Re: No gumption

      Gatwick isn't exactly in the middle of nowhere. There are people walking around out there. The bill for landing on one of those heads might be a bit higher, especially for the owner of the head. It's easy for armchair warriors to come up with these solutions. They don't actually have to implement or face consequences.

      1. Rob Fisher

        Re: No gumption

        It looks like there are a lot of fields around Gatwick. I'm not saying it's not a consideration, but population density is not that high everywhere, and I doubt that the risk of damaging a building, a grounded plane, or getting some debris on the runway ought to be serious considerations as the article suggests.

        Indeed the police are there with firearms, so they're probably having a go. And helicopters *are* flying, even though this article suggests that would be too dangerous.

        It could just be that spotting it is hard, especially when it only shows up once every few hours and disappears quickly.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: No gumption

          I doubt that the risk of damaging a building, a grounded plane, or getting some debris on the runway ought to be serious considerations as the article suggests.

          Thank you for your input… now reconsider your assessment taking into consideration that the operators are skilled, well-equipped and may have "armed" the drone with this kind of scenario in mind.

          1. Justthefacts

            Re: No gumption

            Maybe the operators have indeed “armed the drone”.

            That makes your proposed non-solution [“careful now”] much worse.

            Options:

            A) Marksman rifle shot. Risk - spent rifle bullet or drone carcass hits somebody. Risk level - density of people on ground, a few thousand x 0.1m2 per km2 => less than 1 in 1000. Consequence - a couple dead. Bad, but let’s see what option B has to offer.

            B) Do nothing. Risk level - fairly high that this is either a serious attack in progress, or an initial probing for a larger attack if the culprits are not stopped. Probability surely at least 10%. Or even say I am paranoid, but not less than 1%. Consequence: loss of one or several airliners, each with hundreds of people on board.

            Personally, I choose option A.

            Gatwick have gone for B; now we just wait for more attacks, one of which may well succeed with a large number of deaths. Bad choice.

      2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: No gumption

        Crawley is indeed next to LGW BUT there is at the present time a decent gap between the houses and the airport perimiter. I grew up next to the airport in Povey Cross which is just to the north of the Airport.

        At the SW end of the runway there are fields and scattered houses plus a small factory (Roband Electronics)

        There is plenty of space IMHO to shoot not only the drone but to do it without endangering human life or property unless it is one or two cars at the off airport car park that is near the far end of the runway.

        IMHO, this is just a dry run for bigger drone events close to specific targets. I'm sure that it won't be long before waves of drones carrying explosives are sent over prime targets. HMG needs to get tough with these people. Throw the book at them.

        1. Jediben

          Re: No gumption

          I live in Crawley. A damaged drone smashing into the local residential areas can only improve house prices.

          1. RancidRodent

            Crawley

            Crawley gave us The Cure - it's has a redeeming feature! :-)

    2. Nifty

      Re: No gumption

      "A lot of these objections amount to a lack of gumption. Nothing is without risk."

      Hey! No Brexit references allowed on El Reg forums.

      1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: No gumption

        Theres no risk with Brexit.

        It’s dead certain to be idiotic.

    3. This post has been deleted by a moderator

      1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

        Re: No gumption

        Nasty little paranoid man aren't you?

        1. RancidRodent

          Re: No gumption

          Yeah, call me David Kelly.

          1. Geoffrey W Silver badge
            Angel

            Re: No gumption

            RE: "call me David Kelly"

            Oh. Can I have your autograph? I thought you were much better than all those brats in Charlie and the chocolate factory! I bet you'd have been a great Arthur Bryant if they'd every made a Bryant and May movie. You should come back from the dead and audition if they ever do. Bring John le Mesurier with you to be John May. That'd be awesome!

        2. Chrissy

          Re: No gumption

          He he has a point though.... literally EVERYONE has a camera immediately to hand in their phones, the area is saturated by police and probably the public helping outside the airport perimeter, its an airport saturated with CCTV, and the police commander would have almost certainly posted someone on a roof somewhere with a large lensed SLR to get a shot of the device so they know what they are looking for..... yet the only photo seems to be here:

          https://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/749188/breaking-gatwick-airport-drone-picture-easyjet-delays-flights-cancel-compensation-travel

          with a quote: "...of what he believes is the culprit"

          1. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

            Re: No gumption

            I have yet to see a mobile phone with a 600mm lens.

          2. eionmac

            Re: No gumption

            Regret your assumption is wrong. Two of us here use G2 phones (no camera) as that at least gets a useable signal.

      2. Roo
        Windows

        Re: No gumption

        "The government can't be that risk averse (or bothered about our safety) as they seem perfectly happy to carry on, year after year, importing 100K+ people per year from populations known to have a large minority of people who mean us and our way of life direct harm."

        The only folks I have ever had causing me direct harm because they resent my "way of life" in the UK have been white 'British' people. I would be more than happy for those folks to piss off to somewhere else and be happy with like-minded Brit haters.

      3. werdsmith Silver badge

        Re: No gumption

        Anyhow, this is all nonsense anyway, we've got TV cameras that can focus on a golf ball in flight with pin-point perfect high-def pictures - and not one decent shot of this so-called drone at Gatwick despite the place being saturated by media outlets. This is a hoax

        ----

        If it's lack of pictures you are using as evidence, any real hoaxer would have got one of their co-hoaxers to fly a drone within site of media lenses. Then the thickos can start accusing talking about photoshop.

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: No gumption

      You have a problem. You go out and solve it, even if it involves a little risk

      -----------------------------------

      There's a really good chance that ignoring the drone is both safer and more effective.

      But it is politically risky.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: No gumption

        police helicopter and thermal imager. At 3AM there arent thousands of people about and I assume the drone needs line of sight when returning home. just follow it.

        1. tiggity Silver badge

          Re: No gumption

          My consumer grade thermal imager has a surprisingly good range - and if you add use of IR illuminator into the mix it gets far better.

          Though my use of it is mainly on spotting local wildlife (primarily bats) in the dark, a lot smaller and more maneuverable than the alleged commercial grade drones mentioned, but bats potentially a more distinct heat signature depending on drone shielding

          1. YetAnotherLocksmith

            Re: No gumption

            It'll be glowing white hot on any thermal imager. Unless it has been modified by the attackers (and they clearly are attackers at this stage, over 24 hours in.)

        2. YetAnotherLocksmith

          Re: No gumption

          I too am wondering about the loss of tracking from a helicopter and a thermal imager, as the thing must get pretty hot. The other day we found a spurious heat signature, and it turned out to be the angle grinder I had used an hour beforehand, motor still warm. Not to the touch, but to the thermal imager.

    5. Pete 2 Silver badge

      Ahhhh shoot!

      The reasons given for not shooting it sound entirely bogus.

      A falling bullet from a "miss" will only reach its terminal velocity on the way down. It's weight is small. So it would be comparable to a hailstone.

      As for where the drone falls, that (surely) is the responsibility of the flier. It is their illegal drone and they are responsible for its actions.

      It seems to me that the real problem is that the security services are run by bureaucrats. People who are far more worried about the possible criticism and damage to their own careers than by the chaos, disruption and cost that thousands of others suffer due to their inaction and lack of initiative. This incapacity to act also sends a clear signal to anyone else who wants to cause trouble - anarchists - that a thousand £ drone can effectively "switch off" a major transport hub, cost millions of £££s an hour.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Re: Ahhhh shoot!

        What, you think one bullet would do it? Dream on.

      2. Jim Whitaker

        Re: Ahhhh shoot!

        Nonsense. Falling bullets dangerous or fatal. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Celebratory_gunfire

        1. Pete 2 Silver badge

          Re: Ahhhh shoot!

          > Falling bullets dangerous or fatal

          I don't suppose it has ever occurred to you that if law enforcement fired on the drone from outside the airport, into it, that the missed rounds (weighing roughly 12 grams) would simply drop harmlessly to ground on the millions and millions of square metres of concrete and tarmac that makes up the airport.

          And since flights were grounded, there would be no reason why all staff could not be ordered to remain inside. The worst that would then happen is maybe a little dent in an aircraft's metal skin - if it was incredibly unlucky - like hitting a squirrel on a golf-course - unlucky.

          1. teknopaul Bronze badge

            Re: Ahhhh shoot!

            "if law enforcement fired on the drone from outside the airport, into it..."

            Clever! Wait till it enters the same airspace as planes taking off and landing and add bullets. Planes were grounded because of the drone not beforehand.

          2. Kiwi

            Re: Ahhhh shoot!

            The worst that would then happen is maybe a little dent in an aircraft's metal skin - if it was incredibly unlucky - like hitting a squirrel on a golf-course - unlucky.

            I've heard it said that a beer bottle cap can be enough to destroy a jet engine (some doco show many years back). Certainly a dent in any propeller is a problem and can lead to the loss of a prob blade, which can be catastrophic to anyone nearby.

            Not one plane that was there before the shooting would be able to leave until every scrap of every bullet was accounted for.

            That said, if the planes were to be put into hangers (or every hole in the engines and sensors covered) before the shooting began they should be fairly safe. But if I was the person with the drones I'd not be flying at that stage, obviously something about to be happening when they go to those lengths.

            A decent bounty for evidence leading to the prosecution could work, but then that would run the risks of vigilantes and perhaps a few more innocents locked up.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Ahhhh shoot!

        "As for where the drone falls, that (surely) is the responsibility of the flier. It is their illegal drone and they are responsible for its actions."

        I would imagine that responsibility for the drones course would pass to anyone that caused it to change course, so far it has done no physical damage (just flown where it shouldn't) but if someone decides to shoot a rotor off there is no saying where it will end up

      4. tapanit
        Headmaster

        Re: Ahhhh shoot!

        'A falling bullet from a "miss" will only reach its terminal velocity on the way down. It's weight is small. So it would be comparable to a hailstone.'

        Umm, no. Unless shot straight up, the bullet also has *horizontal* velocity, and that's what'll do the damage. There are well-documented cases of bullets shot randomly in the air causing damage, even killing people.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Ahhhh shoot!

          >There are well-documented cases of bullets shot randomly in the air causing damage, even killing people.

          And how many properties were damaged and people killed in WWII from anti-aircraft fire...

          I think the stop wasn't issued by the police/army but by the legal console, who didn't want to give the ambulance chasers an opportunity...

  3. ukgnome Silver badge

    Fricken Laser

    Time to release the sharks.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn
      Coat

      Re: Fricken Laser

      Release the flying monkeys would be more useful.

    2. Vometia Munro

      Re: Fricken Laser

      I was just about to suggest a Sharknado will take care of them, but you've beaten me to it. I'm thinking that flying, nuclear-powered sharks with lasers for eyes and chainsaw fins are the ideal solution and I'm surprised they haven't simply taken the obvious option.

  4. Borg.King

    Special powers

    Under the Terrorism Act or somesuch may well see a ban on public drone sales in the future.

    1. Version 1.0 Silver badge

      Re: Special powers

      Sure, you can ban them but can you stop people building them in their back-yard? It's not that difficult.

      1. Flakk Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Special powers

        No, but it's not difficult for a motivated legislative body to follow up a ban on drones with bans on balsa wood, shrinkwrap, and radio-controlled servos, either. Better ban rubber bands, too, just to be safe.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Special powers

      Knives and guns are already illegal. Hasn't stopped criminals using them…

      1. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Special powers

        Compared to the US, it mostly has stopped people using guns.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Special powers

          yes but its not stop the crim's using them I think that's the point being made

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Special powers

        Knives are not illegal, I own lots of knives.

        Kitchen knives, multi-tools with folding knives, even a couple of ceremonial swords.

        But I agree with your sentiment, bans don't work, a decent engineer can build a weapon or drone fairly easily.

        We can just be glad this is an idiot flying his toy to disrupt aviation, not someone who actually wants to take down a plane.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Special powers

          I hate to say it (as a person training with swords and similar items) If you live in the UK, your sword is very likely very illegal to own.

          Government: "Are you a criminal, no? wait a minute, we will pass a law and make you one."

      3. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

        Re: Special powers

        I have loads of knifes. Mostly in the kitchen, but some in the garage.

  5. Vanir

    The drone has

    well and truly bolted.

    And yet the stable has been seen to have a growing murder of crows for a number of years.

    What's the Scout Motto?

    Our leaders, civilian and business, do not seem to be able to achieve the calibre and perspicacity of scouts.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "[...] whoever might be the lucky recipient of the spent bullets or shot as they fall to earth."

    What's the terminal velocity of such a spent rifle bullet as it finally hits the ground? Will it slow down by tumbling - or will it be a nose first smooth descent?

    Presumably a tumbling round - although possibly slower - would do maximum damage to any flesh that it penetrates.

    1. Alan Burlison

      Spent rifle round deaths

      "For those hit by falling bullets, the chance of the wound being fatal was far higher than a typical shooting. The hospital put deaths from regular shootings between 2% and 6%, while for those struck by falling bullets the death rate was close to one third."

      https://www.theguardian.com/world/2011/aug/24/how-dangerous-is-celebratory-gunfire

      1. Martin Gregorie Silver badge

        Re: Spent rifle round deaths

        Here's a good analysis of the damage caused by spent rounds and their lethality:

        https://forensicoutreach.com/library/the-falling-bullet-myths-legends-and-terminal-velocity/

        Some of the comments are worth reading too. That was a straight-forward search: my first attempt used " velocity of a spent rifle round" and the link was the third item on the page.

        1. RancidRodent

          Re: Spent rifle round deaths

          When you're spraying celebration-fire in the air - the angle of fire is going to vary wildly. I'm sure plenty of these rounds will be fired at angles significantly lower than 70 degrees - which will of course carry very high velocities and probable lethal force right 'til moment of impact on the ground or elsewhere. None of these articles citing deadly celebration-fire incidents can say with any level of accuracy what angle the bullet(s) were fired at.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      terminal velocity

      "What's the terminal velocity of such a spent rifle bullet as it finally hits the ground? Will it slow down by tumbling - or will it be a nose first smooth descent?"

      It's not a terminal velocity problem (unless you shoot straight up into the air, still not a great idea for lots of reasons). The problem is that a bullet fired into the air will accelerate towards the ground at about 32 m/sec^2, just like any other object tossed in our gravity well. During that fall back to earth, it's traveling forward at a very high rate of speed and is very deadly. Sure, it will lose some speed due to wind resistance, but still not a great idea in a populated area.

      Shot from a shotgun is much less of a concern (lower initial velocity, higher cross sectional area/mass of individual shot, etc.) but as mentioned in the article, the lethal range is less.

      1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

        Re: terminal velocity

        "The problem is that a bullet fired into the air will accelerate towards the ground at about 32 m/sec^2"

        A confusion of American Customary Units and proper ones there. G is about 9.8ms-2 (it was meant to be 10 but you know how it is when you're doing a rush job and having to work Saturday overtime).

        And it is a terminal velocity problem - apparently terminal velocity for a rifle bullet is about 90m/s, around twice the kinetic energy needed to penetrate flesh.

        1. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: terminal velocity

          "G is about 9.8ms-2 (it was meant to be 10 but you know how it is when you're doing a rush job and having to work Saturday overtime)."

          Nah, we just got m a bit wrong :)

          Since we're defining at a fraction of c anyway, I thought we could have cleared it all up.

          I'm sure no-one would mind the small adjustments needed :D :D :D

      2. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: terminal velocity

        "During that fall back to earth, it's traveling forward at a very high rate of speed and is very deadly"

        During that fall it loses longitudinal spin (rifling) and starts tumbling, which makes it even more deadly.

        1. Paul Hovnanian Silver badge

          Re: terminal velocity

          "which makes it even more deadly"

          Not really. Bullets that tumble once they enter a target are more deadly due to the increased damage that they do. But bullets that tumble in the air have a much higher coefficient of drag (more so for boat-tail rifle bullets than musket balls) and therefore a lower terminal velocity.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: terminal velocity

            My understanding is that a bullet is designed to be critically stable in flight such that it follows a parabolic arc while spinning, but once it transitions into a denser medium it will proceed to tumble thereby maximising energy transfer to the target. Full tumbling in air causes unstable flight characteristics and energy loss, neither are desirable. Too true a flight maintains accuracy but causes over-penetration of the target which is inefficient for energy transfer.

        2. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: terminal velocity

          NOPE. The MythBusters proved that isn't so. If a bullet is spinning and flying in a ballistic trajectory, the point of the bullet follows the parabolic arc and the bullet keeps spinning. You see it all the time if you're a gridiron fan: a passed ball follows the arc and keeps spinning. Because it's still spinning, it's much more aerodynamic which equates to (1) a higher terminal velocity due to reduced air resistance and (2) a nastier impact because it'll probably hit point-first for maximum penetration.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: terminal velocity

            "2) a nastier impact because it'll probably hit point-first for maximum penetration."

            Point first produces deeper penetration - but makes a clean path through the flesh. A tumbling bullet - if it penetrates - will do far more damage internally. IIRC some conflicts have deliberately used ammunition with that effect?

            1. YetAnotherLocksmith

              Re: terminal velocity

              To enhance energy transfer, modern 5.56 ammo is combined with a slower than expected spin, from the rifle barrel, to keep the bullet stable, but not so stable that when it hits a leaf or target, it doesn't flip to base first. This dumps the energy into the first 6 to 12" of the impact, to increase lethal effect.

              Otherwise you'd need expanding ammo, and that's banned in warfare.

              The faster, lighter rounds will cease to be stable around the 1100m range, unless they've already hit something.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: terminal velocity

        Which terminal? North or South? I can confidently state that either of them have a velocity of 0 m/s currently :-)

      4. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

        Re: terminal velocity

        It's either a "spent cartridge" or a "fired bullet" but a "spent bullet" just sounds wrong.

        Ivan shows how it's done and not on Facebook: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2HrxxGvqEXM

    3. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "What's the terminal velocity of such a spent rifle bullet as it finally hits the ground?"

      Not entirely comparable to a falling round but IIRC someone in S Belfast was hit by what was believed to have been a stray round fired from N Belfast. It was a long time ago so I don't remember the details. But the danger zone can be quite large.

    4. Voland's right hand Silver badge

      What's the terminal velocity

      Killing one. I remember one retarded monkey from the garrizon of a small town in the Eastern European country I lived at the time copping a 20 year term. He set the targets for his troops on a hill ridge with nothing behind and they were shooting uphill. Hit a girl in the town Square 4km away in the neck. Dead on the spot. Ak47 with 7.62 bullet.

      Let's face it, the only effective and safe solution is a shotgun on another drone.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        " Ak47 with 7.62 bullet."

        In the 1960s a friend was in the UK army reserves. They had an annual camp which finished with a rifle range competition between the groups - all shooting at the same time.

        Each group's target was initially obscured by a vertically balanced steel sheet - which had to be knocked over by hitting it near the top. One year all the sheets refused to tip over.

        On inspection it was found that the bullets were going through the steel. That year they had changed the rifles from the old .303 type to a modern high velocity 7.62 model.

      2. HelpfulJohn

        "Let's face it, the only effective and safe solution is a shotgun on another drone."

        Rock salt loads? Or something like a syrup gun? The sticky juice could be biodegradable so the tree-huggers couldn't whine. A water-spraying hose might work, too but I'm not certain Greenies know that water is eco-friendly.

        Or napalm. Put a flamethrower on a helicopter (or, slightly safer, an unmanned drone) and it could take care of just about anything.

        I would suggest using one of our nukes as the E.M.P. might kill the attacker drone even if the blast, heat and gamma didn't but that seems like slight overkill and I rather suspect that the locals would frown on this as a solution to such a minor irritant. Also, after a good nuking, Gatwick might need a new coat of paint.

        Or a new Gatwick.

    5. veti Silver badge

      A bigger problem with rifles is, it's bloody hard to hit a target of that size, moving at that speed, at a range of several hundred metres. It's hard enough even to see the damn' thing, let alone shoot it.

      So you'd probably end up firing many rounds, probably hundreds of them, before scoring a hit. Or (more probably, and more embarrassingly), before giving up having not hit anything. And every round has a chance of hitting something/one on the ground.

      Military systems for this kind of purpose use fully automatic weapons. I don't think anyone's going to sign off on firing one of those over Gatwick.

      The answer has to be either something that's harmless when it falls (e.g. shotgun pellets), or doesn't fall at all (energy bursts, e.g. highly directed EMP, which as far as I know is still the stuff of science fiction but looks like it should be overdue for some serious R&D about now).

      1. Pseu Donyme

        Also, I would imagine that rifle sights set for a bullet trajectory roughly in the horizontal plane are off for a one that is closer to vertical, especially at distance.

    6. Jonathon Desmond

      “What's the terminal velocity of such a spent rifle bullet...”

      African or European bullet?

      1. chr12bu

        Re: “What's the terminal velocity of such a spent rifle bullet...”

        Laden or unladen?

        1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

          Re: “What's the terminal velocity of such a spent rifle bullet...”

          Surely that's leaden?

        2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: “What's the terminal velocity of such a spent rifle bullet...”

          "Laden or unladen?"

          Bin Laden.

          Another expert in creating chaos with airborne things.

          Thanks to the wonders of technology the malicious can now cause major disruption without even needing to take flying lessons.

  7. DougS Silver badge

    They just need to make the penalty so outsized

    That only a moron would try it. 25 years in prison for operating a drone too close to an airport ought to do the trick. Even if you only catch 1 out of 50, why would anyone take that chance?

    Require any drones purchased in the country to have a warning that lists the penalty for illegal operation in a restricted zone, then people can't claim they didn't know. Having it be on the news when the first couple people get sentenced to hard time for doing it ought to help with that too.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

      But I think previous research has shown it's not the size of the penalty that stops criminals; it's the risk of being caught. And it looks rather as if the risk of being caught is close to zero.

      If the culprit is smart enough to wear gloves when handling the drone, how do you tie it to him? Do the comms systems keep track of 2.4GHz channels once the connection is turned off? And even if someone finds a way to force a drone to return to launch: "Ow, office, I was just walking to the pub when this bloody thing fell on my head!"

      Without catching the culprit in the act and either having a return to launch observed or active control, it's going to be damn near impossible to prove it.

      1. Alan Brown Silver badge

        Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

        "And it looks rather as if the risk of being caught is close to zero."

        The police have been doing extremely well at catching drone operators operating around prisons......

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: police have been doing extremely well

          "The police have been doing extremely well at catching drone operators operating around prisons......"

          So they say.

          Elsewhere, the UK public have a rather different experience, in general.

          "County line" issues suddenly seem to be a prominent excuse for our largely dysfunctional police HQs failures over many years to respond to the will of the public. It goes back at least a decade or two, in my experirence.

          I used to live in a pleasant soutn Birmingham suburb, in one Police Sector, and if crimes were committed by incomers from a different Policing Sector (y'know, like two kilometres away) there was apparently "very little that can be done" (officially).

          I do absolutely agree that life for most of us would be a lot better if the chance of being nicked and held accountable for misdeeds was significantly greater than zero. So did quite a few feet on the street in the police. But they have more exciting things for HQ (and the justice system in general) to spend money on.

        2. MonkeyCee Silver badge

          Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

          "The police have been doing extremely well at catching drone operators operating around prisons......"

          In that they actually catch some now, they are.

          My understanding from correctional officers is that it is the predominant method of smuggling contraband, based in part on catching less contraband in other methods whilst those methods have improved. Mainly non invasive scanning being able to spot internally stashed goods.

          You can also hear them. And often spot them. But you still have at least a dozen inmates per CO, so you have a limited amount of response available. They used to lock down the wing that the drone landed on, but they often land it on one, then fly to another after 5 minutes. Or fly six drones in at once. Or have a fight kick off then a couple of drones come in while everyone is busy.

          Most common contraband is tobacco products and cellphones, followed by your usual range of recreational substances and steroids.

      2. HelpfulJohn

        Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

        "But I think previous research has shown it's not the size of the penalty that stops criminals; it's the risk of being caught. "

        Perhaps add a transponder to all drones, one that uses low power so it doesn't impact on the battery much but has a digital code that the spies can pick up by way of their super-secret, ultra-sensitive gear. That way, UKGov could license Air Traffic Control to keep an eye on identifiable drones. Were one to stray near to restricted airspace, the owner could be instantly tracked and jailed.

        It would be something like a car being tracked by A.N.P.R. and the registered keeper being responsible for that car's misdeeds.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: add a transponder to all drones

          "add a transponder to all drones so UKGov could license Air Traffic Control to keep an eye on identifiable drones. "

          Were you thinking of something like the tried and tested ADS-B transponder system, or something rather more basic (ADS-B out, maybe, emerging now?), or what?

          "something like a car being tracked by A.N.P.R. and the registered keeper being responsible for that car's misdeeds."

          Assuming, of course, that the criminals don't steal a legit transmitter (in the same way as criminals don't steal legit registration number plates on road vehicles?).

          But I suspect you already knew that, in which case maybe you'll get better reception over at the Daily Mail.

    2. Jack of Shadows Silver badge

      Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

      We had the first case here, Fresno CA, of someone using a laser pointer at the local police department helicopter. If I recall correctly, he's doing ten years in prison. Still, criminals and the general public are generally stupid so even this hasn't caught their attention yet as people still doing it. By the way, the press pretty much everywhere in the US broadcast it far and wide, so publicity isn't a factor, apparently.

      1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

        Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

        Fresno - 6 months.

        Bakersfield - 21 months.

        Kansas City - 3 years.

        Variance in sentencing levels due to previous criminal history.

    3. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

      Yes, the likelihood of being caught is the main factor. Murder was punished by hanging for denturies, and yet people still killed people, not just in the heat of the moment, but in a planned and calculated way. They knew they'd hang if caught, but they took measures not to be caught. Threats don't break anyone's bones.

      1. AndrueC Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

        Murder was punished by hanging for denturies

        Is that where the phrase 'The whole tooth and nothing but the tooth' came from?

      2. DougS Silver badge

        Likelihood of being caught

        I would think it is the return on "investment". If one could steal $100 million with a 50/50 chance of being caught and executed, a LOT of people would try it, that would be a far better proposition than being a gang banger in a big city and a lot of people do that. If one could steal $100 million with a 99.99% chance of being caught and a 10 year term, few would try it (that's pretty much what you'd get if you tried one of those Hollywood Oceans 11 style bank robberies where you aren't armed unless you are as skilled as those characters are)

        What's the "return" on flying a drone around an airport? As far as we know, Al Qaeda and their ilk haven't tried to fly a drone into a jetliner - deliberately trying to hit the jet rather than "being in the airport's restricted zone" are two very different things and could easily have different penalties. So most of the people who do this aren't getting anything out of it, aside from a kick from breaking the law and getting away with it. That kick disappears if you risk a long prison term, or so I would think.

        1. katgod

          Re: Likelihood of being caught

          Many criminal don't know how to calculate the return on investment and if you're a junkie do you even care, although I suspect it is not junkies flying these drones.

    4. OneShotSugsie

      Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

      Sorry dude, Al Quaeda don't much care about long prison sentences. They can now cause millions of damage an hour to the UK economy with something that costs a few grand, is programmable, and is almost impossible to track back to its owner. This isn't a prank but some dumbass - I'm willing to bet it's a coordinated act of protest or worse terrorism. Long sentences may not deter the culprits.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

        And what evidence is there that Al Qaeda is trying this? The people doing it now are just idiots or thrill seekers flying around in a restricted zone, they aren't buzzing around deliberately trying to impact the jets. That could easily be tried under a whole different category with life imprisonment for deliberate endangerment of a passenger jet.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

          And what evidence is there that Al Qaeda is trying this?

          None, but we've become conditioned to look for terrorists everywhere. They like it as it's good advertising. I personally don't think it fits their modus operandi but I'm not an expert. Lots of other possibilities. Cui bono?

      2. alain williams Silver badge

        Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

        I don't think that it is a dumbass & her mates, the software in modern a drone will stop it flying near an airport. So some expertise is needed to hack the software to change this.

        One possibility is that this is a practice run sponsored by Al Quaeda or Putin for some future planned disruption (or maybe just as a bit of seasonal fun). If done for Putin part of the exercise would be to enable the drone operators to escape and some plausible deniability.

    5. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

      "Even if you only catch 1 out of 50, why would anyone take that chance?"

      Because they're idiots. Never underestimate stupid. Or should that be "overestimate"?

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Black Helicopters

        Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

        Forget long prison time - the Police will have a bigger headache keeping the culprit alive, away from the hands of the baying mob of inconvenienced travellers

        1. RancidRodent

          Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

          "Forget long prison time - the Police will have a bigger headache keeping the culprit alive, away from the hands of the baying mob of inconvenienced travellers"

          Yes, I'm sure they'd get a damn good tutting - unless they had a swarthy appearance - in which case the great British public would be too terrified to even raise a tut.

          1. Spunjji
            Facepalm

            Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

            Good grief, you really do have a chip on your shoulder about those "foreign invader" types don't you? And yes, while what you said isn't technically racist, the sum total of your comments on this topic alone give us a solid indicator that you are indeed a shriveled little racist; no amount of bleating about how supposedly touchy everyone is these days will change that fact.

    6. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

      "They just need to make the penalty so outsized

      That only a moron would try it. 25 years in prison for operating a drone too close to an airport ought to do the trick. Even if you only catch 1 out of 50, why would anyone take that chance?"

      I should point out that the punishment is already life imprisonment. This would fall under endangerment of an airport, and therefore under the Aviation and Maritime Security Act 1990. At the very least, it's 5 years in prison for operating an illegal drone.

      1. DougS Silver badge

        Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

        Has anyone ever been sentenced to life in prison? If not, that penalty is only theoretical (probably used only if a terrorist tried to deliberately impact a jet with a drone) and therefore doesn't do anything to discourage the run of the mill idiots who aren't trying to kill anyone but eventually will get "lucky" and do so with enough occurrences.

        1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

          Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

          Has anyone ever been sentenced to life in prison?

          Lots of people. Harsh sentences increase prison costs without noticeably reducing crime. Which is the main reason why California repealed the "three strikes" law which puts lots of people behind bars for life.

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

            No, I think they did it to reduce the crime rate because they learned firsthand that "three-time losers" have nothing to lose so are more likely to take the "in for a penny, in for a pound" mentality: going for big crimes and/or refusing to be taken alive because rotting in jail is worse than suicide by cop.

            1. jake Silver badge

              Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

              No, we didn't repeal the law, we modified the law (see Proposition 36). As originally written, California's version of three strikes was a stupid fucking law that did nothing to reduce crime, and everything to clog the court and penal systems. It's better now, but still needs work.

        2. RancidRodent

          Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

          Indeed, when our political classes outlawed capital punishment against the will of the people they PROMISED life would mean life - of course it didn't take long for that to be watered down to 7 years, soon "hate" crime such as upsetting certain groups of people will carry a larger sentence.

          1. YetAnotherLocksmith

            Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

            It is remarkable how often you post about things you clearly don't even have a basic understanding of.

            Life tariffs, in the UK, mean life under the watch of the legal system. Please, go do at least the basic research before shooting your drone off.

            After custody, they get release on license, a life of having to report back to a parole officer at least weekly, having to keep them updated with everything in the usual way, and, if they commit any offence at all, they'll be sent back to prison immediately. So they fly tip, or get arrested for being drunk, whatever minor thing, they go back to prison to carry on their life sentence.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: life means life

              "a life of having to report back to a parole officer at least weekly, having to keep them updated with everything in the usual way"

              What parole officer? The parole system has mostly collapsed, mostly since it was piratised:

              https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-45584655 (2018)

              http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7362879.stm (2008)

              "if they commit any offence at all, they'll be sent back to prison immediately."

              The probability of even getting caught is probably small.

              But if someone is caught, don't they also need to be charged and tried and found guilty? Or are the rules different for someone out on licence?

              Or is just being accused enough to lock up someone who is out on licence?

              Definitive references very welcome- I genuinely don't know those answers.

    7. katrinab Silver badge

      Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

      It is 5 years at the moment. I don’t think there’s anyone who woukd be prepared to do 5 years for it, but considers 25 years too much.

    8. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

      That only a moron would try it. 25 years in prison for operating a drone too close to an airport ought to do the trick.

      =======================

      Perfect. That should really do it. I wonder if that's more than the penalty for knocking a cop out and drugging him/her with something that blocks long term memory formation.

      The problem with excessively draconian penalties is they encourage other crimes in an attempt to escape.

      Think about it. That's why the penalties for rape and kidnapping should always be less than the penalty for murder.

      This generalizes, and you have to maintain sufficient perceived difference to discourage crime escalation when capture or identification is threatened.

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

        or locate the nearest ham radio club and offer them a substantial reward for triangulation of the signal. Cue vans with yagi's and a miscreant with cuffs.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

        " That's why the penalties for rape and kidnapping should always be less than the penalty for murder."

        Hence the old saying "Might as well be hung for [stealing] a sheep as a lamb".

        1. Charles 9 Silver badge

          Re: They just need to make the penalty so outsized

          Or the similar, "In for a penny, in for a pound."

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I say we ...

    ... take off and nuke the entire site from orbit.

    It's the only way to be sure.

    1. Steven Raith
      Joke

      Re: I say we ...

      We can't take off, due to the airspace being at risk from unmonitored small UAVs.

      So that's a problem.

      Steven 'Obvious joke' R

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: I say we ...

        >>So that's a problem.

        I believe the correct response is, "F***ing-A!"

    2. ADJB

      Re: I say we ...

      No, that's overkill.

      Better we drop a big enough nuke on central London so the EMP gets the drone, after all the aim is to keep Gatwick working.

      Bonus points for doing it when parliament is fully occupied.

    3. Korev Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: I say we ...

      Can you use a big one and “improve” Crawley while you’re at it

  9. Turbojerry

    It's not like they can triangulate the signals!

    Apparently only the Nazis 1939-45 had that technology, all the vast signals intelligence apparatus we have is apparently done with string and tin cans.

    1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: It's not like they can triangulate the signals!

      What signal is there if a drone is just relying on GPS and following a preporgrammed flight path?

    2. Quarak

      Re: It's not like they can triangulate the signals!

      It's a very different situation. The Nazi's had to track a strong AM signal in a far less congested spectrum. The police have to track a very weak signal that is likely hopping between a range of frequencies many times a second in a band of spectrum cohabbited by WiFi and quite probably side bands from the many radars near Gatwick.

      1. DougS Silver badge
        Trollface

        Re: It's not like they can triangulate the signals!

        If they flew a bunch of drones in a ring around the airport 24x7, they could easily triangulate all signals to their source, and be able to mask out semi-permanent ones like wifi or radar. Problem solved!

        1. IainWR

          Re: It's not like they can triangulate the signals!

          This is a new use of the word "easily". What does it mean?

      2. Orv Silver badge

        Re: It's not like they can triangulate the signals!

        Yes, in this case I believe the problem isn't triangulating the signal -- that's quite straightforward, as you note -- it's figuring out which signal is the correct one. Unlike WWII-era signals there's no reason for this transmitter to identify itself in any human-readable way.

        1. Danny 14 Silver badge

          Re: It's not like they can triangulate the signals!

          or you could just follow the drone back to its handler/field. use a searchlight on it (from a helicopter if need be - its not like there are planes flying....) seemed to work in ww2.

      3. Roland6 Silver badge

        Re: It's not like they can triangulate the signals!

        The police have to track a very weak signal that is likely hopping between a range of frequencies many times a second in a band of spectrum cohabbited by WiFi and quite probably side bands from the many radars near Gatwick.

        You are making an assumption about the use of WiFi ie. the 2.4GHz and 5Ghz unlicensed bands. Given the problems TPTB had, I suspect the operators were using at least the 3/4G wavebands, ie. they were controlling the drone via LTE (given reports had the drone avoiding capture) either via their own transmitter or more likely via the mobile networks (interestingly, if 5G delivers it will make it even easier to use 'public' frequencies to control things like drones).

  10. 45RPM Silver badge

    I like the net idea - but it needn’t be a net, steel wire would be effective since that would tangle the blades. I take the point about risk to the chopper pilot - but surely you wouldn’t use a chopper. You’d use another drone.

    In fact, this has practical applications in warfare since this anti-drone drone tech (which would have to be developed since I assume that it doesn’t yet exist) could be handy on the battlefield too.

    1. Charles 9 Silver badge

      "I like the net idea - but it needn’t be a net, steel wire would be effective since that would tangle the blades."

      Not if the blades are cowled. Plus, being these are likely industrial-grade drones, what's to say their blades aren't metallic and able to cut a wire?

      1. 45RPM Silver badge

        @Charles 9

        Ahh yes. Good point. Nets it is then.

      2. Kiwi
        Black Helicopters

        "I like the net idea - but it needn’t be a net, steel wire would be effective since that would tangle the blades."

        Not if the blades are cowled. Plus, being these are likely industrial-grade drones, what's to say their blades aren't metallic and able to cut a wire?

        Cowling adds significant weight thus reducing flight time and manoeuvrability. That's mainly why the prop guards on drones are so small vs the total area of the blade (most covering around 1/4-1/3 of the prop's area)

        A large ship's propellor can be fouled by a relatively small rope (in this case a mooring line is "relatively small", although even smaller lines have caused big problems). The blade and the engine combined aren't enough to cut the rope. A small engine on a drone will not cut a wire. If you doubt this, get a decently powered lawn mower and see what the same size wire as a top E-string on a guitar will do to it.

        Nothing short of a predator drone will have an engine able to cut even a very thin wire.

    2. Keith 20

      Why not this, but fight fire with fire ? Use a drone to drop a net (or spray some silly string!) on it.

      Did we learn nothing from Robot Wars?

    3. JCitizen
      Megaphone

      You mean this?

      https://youtu.be/jvdKNBSWPyU

    4. Kiwi
      Boffin

      In fact, this has practical applications in warfare since this anti-drone drone tech (which would have to be developed since I assume that it doesn’t yet exist) could be handy on the battlefield too.

      More than 20 years back I used to take part in battles with kites, RC aircraft and all sorts of other toys. The aim was to bring down your opponent while still maintaining controlled flight yourself.

      The tech has been around a while.

      (I wonder if nets could be deployed from a form of barrage balloon?)

  11. herman Silver badge

    Fly over it with a helicopter

    If the police helicopter pilot can see it, then he only need to fly over it to send it tumbling to the ground due to the extreme turbulence.

    1. Hollerithevo Silver badge

      Re: Fly over it with a helicopter

      Unless the chopper drops out of the sun or whatever, the drone can sense it coming and, as the article said, do a bit of a kamikaze by flying into the screen or the rotors.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fly over it with a helicopter

        "do a bit of a kamikaze by flying into the screen or the rotors"

        Rotor.

        IIRC, losing a 1 kg piece from the end of a blade results in the average main rotor disintegrating in seconds from unbalanced forces and vibration.

    2. RancidRodent

      Re: Fly over it with a helicopter

      It would need to exist for the helicopter pilot to see it - I've not seen a shred of evidence to suggest this anything other than a giant hoax for some political reason.

      1. James Hughes 1

        Re: Fly over it with a helicopter

        A racist fucknut. On the Register. Who would have thought it.

        Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Fly over it with a helicopter

          The New York Times are racist fucknuts, too?

          https://www.nytimes.com/2018/12/24/world/europe/gatwick-airport-drone.html

  12. Mark Stronge
    FAIL

    Hard to shoot a plastic bag

    It would be difficult to shoot down a plastic bag. Also, these magical drone batteries seem to last for an indefinitely long period of time, and with the lights on the drone that help the authorities to see it too, how noble of the drone operators... SMH. Sounds like a big rouse.

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Hard to shoot a plastic bag

      "and with the lights on the drone that help the authorities to see it too"

      And yet, no photos or video footage, despite all those thousands of people standing around with cameras.

      1. anonanonanon

        Re: Hard to shoot a plastic bag

        You try taking a photo of something that small, at night, several hundred meter away with a phone camera, even in daylight, you'd likely only see a speck.

        Someone would have to have a semi decent camera with a zoom lens and be quick off the mark.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Hard to shoot a plastic bag

          "Someone would have to have a semi decent camera with a zoom lens and be quick off the mark."

          You mean like all the Press who have flocked to cover this story? How many actual drone photos exist that can be verified to have been taken during this event?

          1. anonanonanon

            Re: Hard to shoot a plastic bag

            I'm sure they let the press have free run of the entirety of the airport such that there is an even coverage.

            1. Kiwi

              Re: Hard to shoot a plastic bag

              I'm sure they let the press have free run of the entirety of the airport such that there is an even coverage.

              A few press cameras can cover a very large area. The sorts of camera operators who work at sports events (eg golf) who can track a tiny ball moving at decent speeds from a long way off would be able to find and track a drone from some way off.

              And I'm pretty sure, especially as the airport is closed at these times (or was), there's little harm in having a few members of the press and associated camera crew escorted inside - so long as they're paying for the escort's time and a 'small administration fee' to the higher ups.

    2. anonanonanon

      Re: Hard to shoot a plastic bag

      Most last at least 20 minutes, and have easily replaceable batteries, "Industrial specification" type drones, probably bigger ones like a DJI Inspire are often sold with multiple batteries.

      And if the intent of the perp is to disrupt the airport, being visible would be part of the point no?

  13. OneShotSugsie

    Send in other, bigger, better armed drones?

    Okay, but, what about sending up a few of our own industrial strength drones and engaging in a dogfight? Maybe armed with big metal roads, nets, low calibre guns, shit like that. Think robot wars but aerial.

    Also if they could let me have a go - or at least film it and put it on Youtube, that would be awesome. You could make a show out of it, and get Lethal Bizzle or someone to present it.

    1. fobobob

      Re: Send in other, bigger, better armed drones?

      Was thinking along similar lines, but I think a pair (or generally a small formation) of drones, dragging a net, would be adequate.

      1. Fruit and Nutcase Silver badge
        Mushroom

        Re: Send in other, bigger, better armed drones?

        add a flame thrower in for good measure

    2. DavCrav Silver badge

      Re: Send in other, bigger, better armed drones?

      "Okay, but, what about sending up a few of our own industrial strength drones and engaging in a dogfight?"

      Are you basically suggesting putting rotor blades on Sir Killalot and Sgt Bash? If you are, then...I am all for this idea.

    3. RancidRodent

      Re: Send in other, bigger, better armed drones?

      Assuming these bogey men exist in the first place, the problem was it was raining heavily yesterday, the MOD's (£15million a shot TCO) watchkeeper surveillance drone has a bit of a problem flying in anything other than perfect conditions - whereas most off-the-shelf ~£20K commercial drones can fly in all weathers reliably.

    4. Persona

      Re: Send in other, bigger, better armed drones?

      No. Keep it simple. Send up a unarmed drone with longer flight capacity to follow it home. Follow this up with a visit from plod to collect the forensic evidence (i.e. a drone with lots of fingerprints and DNA inside and out) and/or nab the perpetrator.

      1. RancidRodent

        Re: Send in other, bigger, better armed drones?

        A Typhoon flying cap would spot this drone miles off - Typhoon's Pirate ISRT system is one of the highest resolution Infrared Search systems ever produced and could spot and track a match burning at stand off ranges, okay it doesn't have direct look down, but it doesn't need to, its look ahead angle is good enough to cover ground targets at pretty close range, it learns what the constant heat sources are (buildings etc.) and can concentrate on only what's new/moving. You may ask how much per hour does it cost to fly a Typhoon, but how much does Gatwick closed for a day cost?

        We have the technological capability to track this pretty quickly, which is why I don't think it exists, there's either another security operation going on - or it a hoax to scare us out of our liberties.

        1. Voland's right hand Silver badge

          Re: Send in other, bigger, better armed drones?

          You may ask how much per hour does it cost to fly a Typhoon,

          How much per hour to mount a spare one on a truck is the right question. If there is no ground version to start off with.

      2. Kiwi
        Boffin

        Re: Send in other, bigger, better armed drones?

        Keeping DNA and prints off of something should be trivial for even the dumbest posters here.

        Putting someone else's DNA on something should be relatively easy for most here after a tiny little bit of thought - DNA is probably one of the easiest lots of 'evidence' to fake or transfer (have a look at the back of the chair you're sitting on right now).

        And for the really smart, obtaining and transferring finger prints (never proven that no 2 people have the same prints) is not particularly hard either. As a thought exercise, figure out how to do it with DNA-matching skin oils or other 'bodily fluids'. Do it right and the evidence sticks quite well in these sorts of cases.

    5. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Send in other, bigger, better armed drones?

      You mentioned "Youtube". I'm surprised that no video has shown up there yet. Which is also odd and tends to rule out some young lad just messing around.

  14. KillStuffMount
    Trollface

    Why haven't they thought of.....

    Trampolines, big men and women with sodding enormous hammers. Think of the hilarity.

    1. EVP

      Re: Why haven't they thought of.....

      ”Trampolines, big men and women with sodding enormous hammers. Think of the hilarity.”

      Men wearing kilts, I presume?

    2. Antron Argaiv Silver badge

      Re: Why haven't they thought of.....

      And no bras on the well endowed (of course) ladies.

      You could pay for it all by selling videos afterwards.

    3. RancidRodent

      Re: Why haven't they thought of.....

      Yeah, build a big structure of platforms and have a gorilla chucking barrels down for the hammer people to thwack - it could be fun.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Get with the program

    Oh please the Japanese and some other countries already have anti-drone drones with net etc...

    Directed EMP shot anyone?

  16. Rupert Fiennes Bronze badge

    Clearly we need a "fighter" drone

    Something that fires a net. The services are fine with shooting it out of the sky, but we keep fighter aircraft at partly because although SAM's are effective, they cannot identify and warn.

    1. Roo
      Windows

      Re: Clearly we need a "fighter" drone

      I don't think Warning/ID is really an issue in the airport use-case - because you know that no drones should be larking about over runways & approaches... Plus there's no guarantee that such a "fighter" drone would be quick or agile enough to actually disable/destroy it's targets... Small cheap low-powered SAMs for drone destruction would be more fun to build and they'd be quick (airlines/airports lose money very quickly). If you can knock a drone out quickly enough the nuisance drone operators are *likely* to come to the conclusion that their fun/protest is no longer economically viable.

      At low altitudes ground based guidance should be possible (most drones are relatively slow moving), so you can have a lighter, cheaper and less dangerous-when-it-goes-wrong missile...

      If you wanted it to be pricey, you could have some kind of netting + parachute warhead, but huge explosions would obviously be much more fun^Weffective.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Clearly we need a "fighter" drone

        "Small cheap low-powered SAMs for drone destruction would be more fun to build and they'd be quick (airlines/airports lose money very quickly)"

        ----------------------------------------------

        It has potential. You can pass them out to all the security guards, and for better coverage, airfield maintenance/operations types.

        You can then make a lot of money running a pool on how long it takes for someone to tag an aircraft with one of them, accidently or deliberately.

        Perhaps four different pools - accidental, deliberate, unknown, and 'missed the drone'

        Quadruple your profit.

  17. Roo
    Windows

    Flak

    Anti-aircraft guns tackled the problem of rounds returning to the sender with fuses that detonated at a given time/altitude... Admittedly it would suck if the fuse failed - but it that doesn't seem to have impeded folks from putting AA batteries in the middle of built up areas in times gone by...

    1. LDS Silver badge

      Re: Flak

      Those fuses where used to maximize the chance to hit an airplane even when you didn't get a direct hit. Proximity fuses greatly increased the lethal effect. And any not detonated one would be even a greater risk. When airplanes drop high-explosive or incendiary bombs on you, that risk becomes somewhat acceptable...

      1. Roo
        Windows

        Re: Flak

        "Those fuses where used to maximize the chance to hit an airplane even when you didn't get a direct hit."

        Not exclusively so...

        The vast majority of shells fired will *miss* or fail to detonate in typical AA applications if they *didn't* have some kind of time/altitude fuzes. Without that "failsafe" fuze your AA batteries will do more damage than the opposition's bombers. ;)

        Delay fuzes are used in lots of applications to reduce the chances of harm to the operator, from "dumb" bombs to the latest and greatest missiles.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flak

      Anyone outside during an air raid was well advised to be wearing a steel helmet even if not in an area being directly bombed. There were many civilian casualties from falling AA shrapnel. After a raid boys would scour the streets for pieces of AA shrapnel for their collections.

      See the John Boorman semi-autobiographical film "Hope and Glory" (1987).

      1. Roo
        Windows

        Re: Flak

        Things moved on somewhat after WWII. Post war AA guns have tended to use much smaller rounds and lots of them (eg: 23mm), so the shrapnel is smaller and lighter...

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          Re: Flak

          "so the shrapnel is smaller and lighter..."

          ...and there's more of it.

          1. Roo
            Windows

            Re: Flak

            "...and there's more of it."

            The targets are relatively soft and slow so you wouldn't need big rounds, or many of them.

            I was thinking along the lines of something that was accurate at short ranges (ie: <1km), rather than something like a ZSU-23-4 which is intended to shred armor at a couple of km, so I wouldn't be parking ZSU-23s around Gatwick anytime soon. :)

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Flak

              The targets are relatively soft and slow

              ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

              In fact, the targets are getting faster, harder to spot, and tougher (except for stealth fighters, which may be harder to spot with some technologies from some angles, but are often slower and more fragile).

              That's why AA guns and aircraft cannon kept growing - .50 cal, 20mm, 23mm, 25mm, 27mm, 30mm.

              Good close support aircraft and helicoptes are often supposed to be proof against 20mm fire.

              Popular ground air defense guns now seem to be 30mm, or 35mm, for the most part, if not larger dual purpose weapons like the Oto Melara 76mm and larger.

            2. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Flak

              ZSU-23-4 which is intended to shred armor at a couple of km

              --

              The ZSU was designed for AA not anti-armour, and most if not all modern IFVs are supposed to resist rounds that small.

              The AA units with good anti-armour capabilities are probably 30 to 35 mm, with dual feed to allow switching to APDS rounds, and that is only good against APCs and IFVs, not MBTs, or probably, heavy IFVs.

              1. Aladdin Sane Silver badge

                Re: Flak

                I'm sure the Imperial War Museum has a FlaK 36 kicking around somewhere, possibly a FlaK 40.

                1. Roo
                  Windows

                  Re: Flak

                  Apparently Finland had a few 88's deployed just over 20 years ago, now retired so we'll never know if they're any use for 'overkilling' drones. :)

              2. Roo
                Windows

                Re: Flak

                "The ZSU was designed for AA not anti-armour, and most if not all modern IFVs are supposed to resist rounds that small."

                True... But I reckon vanilla 23mm HEI-T rounds would still be overkill against drones. They point about mentioning post-war AA units was to show that it is possible to make small(ish) rounds that self-destruct to minimize the collateral damage on the ground. I really wouldn't want a ZSU-23 anywhere near Gatwick.

    3. IceC0ld Bronze badge

      Re: Flak

      but it that doesn't seem to have impeded folks from putting AA batteries in the middle of built up areas

      ===

      and NOW I have visions of people burying bloody DURACELL* everywhere

      *other 'batteries' are available :o)

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Flak

      Admittedly it would suck if the fuse failed - but it that doesn't seem to have impeded folks from putting AA batteries in the middle of built up areas in times gone by...

      -----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

      When you are weighing shell fragments and unexploded shells, against accurate 500 pound bombs delivered from undistracted aircraft you have something rather different from a hypothetical danger from drones which may or may not exist.

      At this time I can't think of a single airliner brought down by a collision with a small drone.

      A collision with a large drone - 15+m wingspan, mass measured in tonnes, not kilograms - would be dangerous, but that's not what we have here.

      And yes fuses fail. If you shoot a lot, more fail, in absolute terms. And trying to hit something as small as a small drone, you will shoot a lot. Are they even big enough to trigger a proximity fuse?

      1. Roo
        Windows

        Re: Flak

        "And yes fuses fail. If you shoot a lot, more fail, in absolute terms. And trying to hit something as small as a small drone, you will shoot a lot. Are they even big enough to trigger a proximity fuse?"

        I would *hope* we can do a bit better than an Soviet AA unit designed over 60 years ago (which incidentally fired ~10 round bursts)...

        The primary purpose of these light AA ammunition fuzes is to stop you shredding the stuff you're trying to protect on the ground, they don't carry enough explosive to be useful with a proximity fuze - assuming you could make one small, reliable and cheap enough for sub 30mm rounds... I think you would need a much cheaper and less powerful round for drone blasting - which would further reduce the scope for collateral damage.. :)

      2. Alterhase

        Re: Flak

        Ahhh -- I seem to remember a plane going down in the Hudson River in New York because of a bird strike. I would assume that a couple of pounds of meat and feathers would generally do less damage than a couple of pounds of metal and plastic.

        1. jake Silver badge

          Re: Flak

          "I seem to remember a plane going down in the Hudson River in New York because of a bird strike."

          US Airways Flight 1549 hit a flock of geese and lost all engine power. It wasn't just a bird-strike.

          "I would assume that a couple of pounds of meat and feathers would generally do less damage than a couple of pounds of metal and plastic."

          Flesh turns into a bag of really sticky, stringy elastic material that sticks to revolving bits and sends them out of balance, causing massive failure. (Ever clean a meat grinder after making sausage?) Drone-sized metal bends and goes away, plastic (mostly) shatters and goes away, causing less massive failure. (watch any number of "will it blend" videos.) I wouldn't want either one to hit my Cessna, but if I had a choice I'd take my chances with a drone over a goose or turkey.

    5. tfb Silver badge

      Re: Flak

      AA guns were used in a scenario where the planes they were shooting down were busy dropping tonnes of explosives on us: the tradeoffs were just a bit different. Indeed if you hit the plane you then have bits of burning plane falling out of the sky on you, and that was still better than the alternative.

  18. redpawn Silver badge

    Get another drone

    and just follow the offending one home. Take pictures of the culprit. Allow for inefficiencies of law enforcement and the courts and the problem will be solved any month.

    1. mevets

      Re: Get another drone

      Maybe this is a marketing stunt by the drone manufacturers -- how do you get rid of pesky drones; buy more drones. Clever.

  19. Vulch

    Gatwick is a big place

    The airport perimeter is something like 10km long. How many shotguns/hunter drones/nets/eagles/whatever are you going to need to deploy to cover that?

    1. Alan Brown Silver badge

      Re: Gatwick is a big place

      "The airport perimeter is something like 10km long."

      And a couple of lidar scanners can cover it all.

      This isn't exactly a "new" problem and the longer it goes on without any evidence of said drone, the more likely it is that there never was a drone to shoot down in the first place.

      https://www.psychologytoday.com/gb/blog/wicked-deeds/201507/moral-panic-who-benefits-public-fear

      1. Bogle
        Mushroom

        Re: Gatwick is a big place

        Your linked article on moral panic posits various tests and this situation fails on all of them.

        Firstly, we haven't identified a group to demonise here, unless it is "all drone pilots" which would be ridiculous.

        Secondly, there's no gap between the threat and the objective threat as this isn't an objective threat, it really has stopped over 100,000 people from travelling. The hazard is small, a downing of a flight, but the risk is very large, the consequent loss of life.

        Thirdly, there's no fluctuation of attention over time. It's just happened and it's been ongoing.

        Mostly importantly there's no public hysteria.

        Conspiracy theories are invariably posited by nutters and believed by the pathologically credulous. Trying to back up your insanity with totally inappropriate material simply demonstrates your foolishness.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Gatwick is a big place

      "The airport perimeter is something like 10km long. How many shotguns/hunter drones/nets/eagles/whatever are you going to need to deploy to cover that?"

      Shotguns? About 400. More to cover breaks, sick, etc.

      You don't want them tired, so probably about 600, with 150 on shift and 100 on station at any time.

      That leaves gaps, but minimizes the chance they will hurt each other.

      If you want to close up the gaps, double the number, and change the rules of engagement to reduce the danger of fratricide.

      Or triple the number and have better coverage, and safer rules.

      There are also environmental issues. If you are not using lead shot, to avoid contamination and poisoning wildlife, then you need bismuth (expensive) or steel (less effective - tighten your intervals, increase shot size, increase carttridge length to mitigate loss of pattern density, and add another 600 to 1200 shotguns, depending on how tough you think the dornes are).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Gatwick is a big place

        trouble is it doesn't have to go to high to be out of the effective range of a shotgun even a shotgun with a full choke maybe 80-100m top's so 300ft

  20. arober11

    A crossbow and some 50lb line would do it

    The nearest archery club would likely be able to offer a half dozen bodies with crossbows, and 50lb fishing line. If hovering at no more than 50m you've got yourself a drone, with traceable serial numbers.

    1. Ochib

      Re: A crossbow and some 50lb line would do it

      Probably a home built drone as the Geofencing doesn’t seem to be working and thus unlikely to have serial numbers.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: A crossbow and some 50lb line would do it

      "The nearest archery club would likely be able to offer a half dozen bodies with crossbows, and 50lb fishing line. If hovering at no more than 50m you've got yourself a drone, with traceable serial numbers."

      What makes you think the drone(s) will hover within 50m of the people on the airport perimiter?

      And you really don't want distracted people looking at the sky while wandering along runways and taxiways.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Indication of organised group of belligerents/tools

    Unless said group are also telepaths then public communication systems were employed to organise this and hence recorded, that is unless this is just one group that physically meet to organise, meaning that if you catch one you catch them all.

    That finding a communication record or identifying a group indicates that the police have not done all they might to prevent/curtail the impact, even assuming that they felt it was an issue they need to deal with early on.

    Yes, it is possible that media reporting was the primary organiser but even then, if the police been on the ball, then the report would have been that drone pillock/s captured rather than airport disabled and police in an apathetic funk/teabreak.

    Technically, dealing with a single wayward drone pilot is easy, just track via radio transmittion strength to locate and arrest, but multiple pilots could be harder unless you have bothered to have multiple detectors, if said detectors can also transmit then just blanket jamming is and should have been the solution thoughout. It might be said that the airports themselves are more to blame for lack of due dilligence and expecting the police to protect their infrastructure without "new" funding/equipment specifically to address this "new" problem.

  22. DagD

    What we need are Dragnet Rounds!

    shoot a spidey net in the air, and whammo, drone falls to the ground.

    episode over.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: What we need are Dragnet Rounds!

      The range on firing a net is ridiculously short. Unless the drone loiters in front of the thrower, it isn't happening.

      Yes, you could perhaps attach it to another drone, but then you've got to get the two drones near to each other.

  23. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    or call out the fire department...

    ladder trucks to the rescue! Douse that drone!!!

  24. Geralds-for-himself

    What about zapping it with high powered radar?

    How about a short burst of a high powered radar to fry its electronics? just a short burst, when no aircraft are in the line of sight for the radar beam. Then use the serial number to track down the one who broke the law.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: What about zapping it with high powered radar?

      "How about a short burst of a high powered radar to fry its electronics? just a short burst, when no aircraft are in the line of sight for the radar beam"

      And this would work why?

      1. If the radars don't do it now, they won't do it later. It's not like they are built to produce 100 times the needed power, and then forever run at 1% output.

      2. Other than approach, landing, and ground control radars - all relatively short ranged, air traffic control radars are likely situated well away from airports, on high terrain that gives a good all round view to long distances.

    2. Richard 12 Silver badge

      Re: What about zapping it with high powered radar?

      That is basically what Drone Dome does.

  25. dcolpitts

    Fly a Herc over them and drop a heavy net

    Fly a C130 Hercules over them and drop a net on them off the back ramp. Even if the operator deliberately flies into the Herc, it's most likely not going to take down the Herc (it may destroy a prop / engine though), and even then the problem is solved because the drone will be destroyed when it hits the Herc.

  26. 007 MI6

    Ok so I am no expert, but what the hell its the internet so let’s have a go at helping the UK “my” government out.

    1) Triangulation , Triangulation, Triangulation. Set up some frequency analysis equipment around the airport perimeter. Contect it to a computer and do some Jeff Goldbum Independence Day magic. I know we lost that war to the USA but it’s only a movie title.

    2) Not your favourite movie ok let’s go all Die Hard 2. Simply take a lesson from Russia and start spoofing the GPS and make ground level -2000 feet. I know GPS is not ALS but you could easily do it.

    3) Radar, you know the stuff we invented in WW2. Get some bloody radar equipment their and start tracking the low level local airspace. It’s god dam air port I am sure you could find so stuff in the store rooms.

    4) People/Army you talk about 3500 army on stand by for Brexit. Let give them a dry run. Flood the place with people. Eyes on the ground until they find who’s doing this.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      "Triangulation , Triangulation, Triangulation."

      Clearly you're thinking of Location, Location, Location. The operator (assuming there's only one) has a good means of dealing with that: Move, Move, Move.

      1. 007 MI6

        I was actually thinking of Tony Bliar.

        Eduction Education Education.

        Gets into power and removes tax relief from open university courses for people who already have a degree. My MBA went from costing £800 a year to £3000.

        1. YetAnotherLocksmith

          Because you've already got a degree. And hence should have a decent job, and therefore he could reduce the tax burden by you who can afford it better.

          That frees up resources for those without a degree already, who will benefit more.

          But hey, those Tories found a way to stop that "unfairness" - they just made it cost £9k a year for a degree, so no-one can afford it.

      2. 007 MI6

        Off the shelf

        It appears they are trying to use an simple off the shelf system to intercept all DJI drone communications. I think the police use the D200 DJI drone, so I guess its the only experience they have with drones.

        https://www.coptrz.com/dji-aeroscope/

        Much better to build a custom system as a government but when the pen pushers and bull shitters are in control and not the educated engineers thats all you get I guess.

        1. Roland6 Silver badge

          Re: Off the shelf

          Much better to build a custom system as a government but when the pen pushers and bull shitters are in control and not the educated engineers thats all you get I guess.

          I suspected that that was consideration and hence part of the reason why the police/army kept the airport closed for so long. Expect the Home Secretary to sign off a nice project budget - using monies from outside of existing funding pots.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "1) Triangulation , Triangulation, Triangulation. Set up some frequency analysis equipment around the airport perimeter"

      That is crowded spectrum with a ton of signals - wifi, microwave ovens, baby monitors, Bluetooth, corrdless phones, Zigbee, video senders, and car alarms at the least. Some of these devices may not be legal in the UK (power level, bandwidth, etc) but they get used anyway.

      Most consumer drones use 2.4 GHz, but while I haven't checked, there's a good chance that it's an SDR - software defined radio. Whatever protocols are used can be modified to hide among all the other traffic.

      A hardware modified or custom built drone has a lot more options. Frequency agile spread spectrum, with other techniques for LPI (low probability of intercept) and possibly other diverse frequency ranges (laser command link, 10 - 30 GHz LPI channels, etc) could make such a drone very hard to detect and localize, particularly if it spread the traffic around bands and modes.

      2) "start spoofing the GPS and make ground level -2000 feet"

      Spoofing GPS and GLONASS and Beidou and Galileo - they are different and independant systems - and modern drones often have ultrasonic or other ground detection technologies.

      Still, how many small civil aviation aircraft can you lose, due to pilots not reading the notices, or getting busy and distracted and flying with habitual techniques before this becomes morally and politically indefensible as a tactic? And since you have to warn ALL pilots, the drone operators will know ahead of time. And then there's the lawsuits.

      3. "Get some bloody radar equipment their and start tracking the low level local airspace. It’s god dam air port I am sure you could find so stuff in the store rooms."

      The old stuff is junk - not fit for the problem. Drones are too small to show up on older radars, and probably most air traffic radars. As well, ATC radars are usually secondary radars - they send out a signal that triggers the aircraft's transponder that then replies. No transponder, no detection.

      Primary radar is rare, produces cruder data, and may or may not be able to pick up a small, low radar cross-section (size, shape, and material matter) object. These are more likely to be military air defence systems, and they would tend to be on national perimiters or high land. By the time a radar at an airfield could pick up anything it would be so close that a standoff anti-radiation missile would have obliterated it, so there is little point in putting them there. Field AA systems are almost certainly designed to pinck up larger targets.... and the newest radars have longer wavelengths to 'see' stealth aircraft - which makes very small objects probably invisible. As well, air defence radars likely use a doppler gate to screen out ground clutter in low level operation and it is likely the drone would be too slow to excape being erased by the clutter filter, even if it could otherwise be detected.

      4) "People/Army you talk about 3500 army on stand by for Brexit. Let give them a dry run. Flood the place with people. Eyes on the ground until they find who’s doing this."

      Take a page from the asymmetrical warfare playbook. Lie low when they are looking. Wait. Move to another airport(s). Start rumours and false reports. Let them chase their tails until exhausted, and their operational budget drained.

      Total army strength is about 102,000 including reserves - but this is in addition to all the other things it must do. Available strength is severly limited.

      Sources list 144 airports in the UK. Let's assume that 1/3 are busy enough to be relevant targets, How long can you maintain blanket watch on the surroundings of 48 airports?

      Brute force is not the answer.

      1. 007 MI6

        You spent far more time on answering my suggestions than any of them deserved. By the way your wrong about brute force.

        Everyone has a plan until they are punched in the face. "Mike Tyson"

  27. Whoisthis

    What's up with the tennis ball?

    It seems to be part of the spectrum analyser kit.

    I declare my ignorance!

  28. EJ

    HERF gun

    Time to get going on the ol' HERF gun again.

  29. James O'Shea Silver badge
    Coat

    three methods

    1 get a MQ-9 Reaper drone (or whatever HM Forces calls them, if they actually have any which haven't crashed) and fit it with Hellfire or Brimstone guided anti-tank weapons or with Stinger guided anti-aircraft weapons. Hunt down the other drones, if they actually exist, and swat 'em with extreme prejudice. Alternatively fit a machine gun of some type (Colt-Browning .303 calibre or Hispano-Suiza 20mm are traditional; 30mm DEFA might also get a look in, but might be too substantial for a Reaper, especially one operated by HM Forces, who can't seem to land them without breaking them. https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/08/12/watchkeeper_drone_wk031_crash_report_1m_uav_destroyed/ https://www.theregister.co.uk/2017/11/01/thales_watchkeeper_crashes/ ) and go hunting.

    2 get a few sqaddies and hand them Stinger or similar missile launchers. Or just a few machine guns.

    3, and most glorious... borrow the Hurri or the Spit or both from the Battle of Britain Flight and make sure that the guns still work. Talley-ho, chaps!

    Yes, mine's the one with the mint condition copy of 'Biggles of the 266' in pocket, thanks.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: three methods

      "if they actually have any which haven't crashed"

      I think you've just identified the problem with using this approach in SE England.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: three methods

      "3, and most glorious... borrow the Hurri or the Spit or both from the Battle of Britain Flight and make sure that the guns still work. Talley-ho, chaps!"

      Something as small, hard to see, and maneuverable as a drone is likely to be a very very difficult target... and it is not wartime. A lot of those misses are going to fall into 'civilianland' and as soon as one of them gets seriously hurt or killed, drones will be the least of your probles.

  30. Ralph Online

    Boomerang or Killer Drone

    Hunting Boomerangs - apparently called kylies can take out a kangaroo or parrot at about 100m according to Wikipedia. So must be capable of taking down a drone with minimal risk of collateral damage? Just need someone trained in throwing them.

    Or what about Killer Drones? Surely you just have a bigger, more powerful drone. Equip it with Big Data, and Artificial Intelligence... powered from the Cloud... and just get it to perform a quick hard reset on the intruding drone?

    And Robert's your mother's brother.

    1. Ken Shabby

      Re: Boomerang or Killer Drone

      The killer app, throw a Blockchain at it.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Re: Boomerang or Killer Drone

        That should certainly cripple it!

  31. Roger B

    Other options...

    Rubber bullets?

    Bean bag gun?

    T shirt bazooka?

    Whats the range on a good super soaker?

    Paint ball gun?

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Other options...

      "Whats the range on a good super soaker?"

      Maybe there really is a use for Boris's water cannon.

    2. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Other options...

      I think you'd need one of the bigger supersoakers rather than the original one. Like this.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What a load of bollocks.

    Up in the air for how long? Watched BBC breakfast, 8 hours, fuck me. My phone doesn't last that long.

    If anyone is in doubt this is to enforce new laws in the new year. Can't have the proles doing a Venezuela, that's communism don't you know.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      downvote all you wish but it's still up there defying all laws of physics. I still call bullshit.

    2. Brangdon

      It's not been up continuously for that long. It appears, hangs around until someone notices it and the airport closes, then it goes away. When the airport reopens, it comes back. It can be recharged in between times.

      1. rmason Silver badge

        They've also confirmed it has been more than one drone.

        Not everything is a conspiracy.

        They have some sort of time window rule they have to stick to. What has been happening is this:

        Drone sighted, necessitates airport closure for X hours.

        X hours - 5 mins - Drone is back.

        There hasn't been a drone or drones flying continuously for all this time.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Brangdon

        I get that but how do they now know it's gone for good? How can they open the airport? According to the BBC it was last seen at 10pm on Thursday, is there a special time limit? I'll just wait for the drone regulation stories to appear within the next couple of days and for drones to be removed from Amazon etc..

  33. druck

    Cut off the GPS so it lands

    Do you want to be the one who signs off on the use of something that could potentially screw over the GPS receivers aboard dozens of airliners, opening you up to ruinously expensive compensation claims as well as properly grounding all the holidaymakers jetting off for Christmas? No, thought not.

    Lack of GPS will not ground airliners, they have other navigation and precision landing systems. The main problem would likely to be passengers getting lost while driving to the airfield, despite all the signage.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: Cut off the GPS so it lands

      "Lack of GPS will not ground airliners"

      Especially the ones already on the ground that can't take off because of the drones.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Cut off the GPS so it lands

      The main problem would be

      Probably getting the US military to pick up the phone. They're the ones who control GPS and, as far as I can tell, this is still a UK civilian issue. And that's actually a good thing: we don't want it to be easy to declare a state of emergency so that the military can take over.

      1. Orv Silver badge

        Re: Cut off the GPS so it lands

        It'd be a lot more practical to jam GPS in the area than to shut down the whole system. But that has some of the same issues as jamming the drone's signal; it's hard to know what the result will be and it's also very illegal.

    3. navidier

      Re: Cut off the GPS so it lands

      Do you want to be the one who signs off on the use of something that could potentially screw over the GPS receivers aboard dozens of airliners, opening you up to ruinously expensive compensation claims as well as properly grounding all the holidaymakers jetting off for Christmas? No, thought not.

      Lack of GPS will not ground airliners, they have other navigation and precision landing systems. The main problem would likely to be passengers getting lost while driving to the airfield, despite all the signage.

      I may be behind the times, but at one point aircraft were not allowed to use GPS to fix their position. Has this changed?

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Cut off the GPS so it lands

      "Lack of GPS will not ground airliners, they have other navigation and precision landing systems"

      And the small civilian aircraft with a less skilled crew of one?

      1. druck

        Re: Cut off the GPS so it lands

        Private pilots do not rely on GPS, and are probably more skilled at navigating without any electronic aids than professional pilots - and won't be using Gatwick in any case.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Bullets and shotgun pellets

    Bullets fly 8000 feet.

    Shotgun pellets fly 120 meters.

    Can we get something measured in London double decker buses as icing on the cake.

    1. 007 MI6

      Units

      My very first lecture for my engineering degree spent 1 hour drumming into us the importance of units. Seem not everyone was paying attention.

    2. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      Re: Bullets and shotgun pellets

      Forgive us, a number of us vultures are of that generation where we were taught metric but grew up around imperial. Thus, 120 metres means more to me than 390 feet, but 8000 ft means more to me than 2.4km. I weigh 76kg but i'm 6ft 2in. It's a mess.

      And I'll sort out the units.

      C.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Bullets and shotgun pellets

        > Forgive us, a number of us vultures are of that generation

        > where we were taught metric but grew up around imperial.

        Original poster here: yeah, me too. I even spent two years of metric immersion as a child, living in a country that threw itself whole hog into metric. There was not a foot, not a mile, not an ounce, or pound, nor even a lowly Fahrenheit to be found anywhere.

        And I forgot it all within minutes of returning to USAia, only to have to learn it all again as an adult in order to carry on a conversation with other adults from civilized parts of the world.

        Consider yourself forgiven.

    3. RuffianXion

      Re: Bullets and shotgun pellets

      Or at least have a banana added for scale.

  35. cornetman

    They will pull all the stops out to get these guys.

    They cannot let it lie.

    Allowing these people to disrupt a major airport for such a long time without any plan to answer what is an anticipated threat will not be tolerated.

    Expect the culprits to be apprehended and shat on with a f*ck ton of shit from a great height, and they will make a very public example of them.

    Alternatively, they can publish their names and let over 10,000 angry passengers vent their frustration upon them

    I, for one, cannot wait.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      They'll be back in Russia by now.

      1. Brewster's Angle Grinder Silver badge

        "They'll be back in Russia by now."

        They would be. But their flight's been delayed.

  36. HWwiz

    If it was the 80's

    See if this was the 80's, we would have called in Airwolf with its C64 based missile guidance system and blown the drone out of the sky.

    1. The Oncoming Scorn
      Pint

      Re: If it was the 80's

      Thank you for putting the theme to Airwolf in my head for the rest of the day.

      1. Eventual_Recluse

        Re: If it was the 80's

        That and the mental image of a windswept Jan-Michael Vincent broodily playing the cello.

        Actually both those things are way better than what was in my head just before. Now they've been joined by Ernest Borgnine too... good stuff!

  37. myxiplx2

    Airports need drones

    To be honest, the airline probably needs its own drone operators to counter this. Another drone to follow it back to base and capture video of anybody there would be a good start.

    And the most effective way to take it down it another drone trailing a lightweight net underneath it. Tangle the props and it'll be down in seconds.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Airports need drones

      "And the most effective way to take it down it another drone trailing a lightweight net underneath it. Tangle the props and it'll be down in seconds."

      Unlikely.

      Eqivalent drones? The one without the net is faster, more maneuverable, and has greater endurance.

      Better chaser? Go after a 1 kg drone with a faster 15 kg drone? Maybe.

      Of course, if you get too focussed on the chase, and manage to smack into an airliner, you might do serious damage. Is it worth the risk, particularly given the limitations of FPV systems focussed on a chase target?

  38. Tsurotu

    people realise this thing isn't just buzzing around permanently, right?

    from what it looks like, the thing goes up for 2 minutes, just to keep the airport shutdown in place, then its packed away for a few hours. the polis can't just go over and shoot it down, because the time they've got there it's buggered off only to appear half a mile away 3 hours later...

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Exactly.

      Given the readers and topics here, you'd think the level of basic intelligence would be higher, but it seems, well, averaged out.

      Whoever is doing this is a professional* team, with motivation and skill.

      *as in practised and with a plan, rather than necessarily being paid for it. But it could be another crypto coin ransom attack using "drones as a service".

      Can't wait for self-driving cars on the roads, can you? /s

    2. Real Ale is Best

      They might also be being careful to avoid flight paths to use the defence, if caught, that they were not endangering aircraft.

      In my mind, some sort of acoustic triangulation similar to that used to locate gunshots in cities could be effective at tracking the drones as it may not need line of sight.

      It might take a while to write the software to pick out a quadcopter from the other noise, however.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Blockchain

    I don't understand why they haven't used a blockchain to get rid of the drones. I'm told that's the answer to everything these days.

    (Maybe you could suspend a really long immutable one from a helicopter and snag it that way)

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Blockchain

      Blockchain!? Maybe DevOps

      1. Francis Boyle Silver badge

        By god you've got it!

        Just a hire a few people who can create a GUI in visual basic to track the drone's IP address.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Blockchain

        Agile Serverless DevOps Blockchain with Financial AI calling Lambdas in the Cloud. Being menaced by Russians.

  40. RancidRodent

    70 degrees

    I suspect any bullet fired at a 70 degree trajectory will be travelling at no more than terminal velocity by the time it hits the ground.

    I've yet to see any evidence that these drones actually exist.

  41. elgarak1

    1) If the drone is remote controlled (the most likely option), they try to find whoever controls it, for questioning, shutting down the drone, arrest, and indictment. From what I observe, 99% of drone problems (mostly from ignorant nutters) can be resolved this way.

    2) Whatever else is going on, they want to get hands on the intact drone whenever possible. Again, to find out who made it and launched it, in particular for autonomous drones.

    3) From these two points, it follows that one needs to protect the people and infrastructure in the area while this is going on. For an airport, that means shutting down.

    In short, that's the realistic and rational way this problem can be handled right now in the real world.

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Outside the box time

    Possibly the 'overblown' reaction is because there is an expectation that something is going to happen. ???

    i.e. Information from GCHQ type sources etc

    The Drones are a possible example of this so no risks were taken.

    There is obviously 'Some' reason for this type of reaction when drones have been flown near other airports without the same response.

    Please add this to the pile labelled 'Tin Foil hat wearers etc' :)

  43. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

    From "Sink the Bismarck" to "Health and Safety Says No"!

    Ach!

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: From "Sink the Bismarck" to "Health and Safety Says No"!

      That's what "not being at war" gets you, eh? Not being killed by a battery volley from a battle ship, vs "the airport shut today".

      Still, Brexit has you covered! Civil war, and possibly war with the EU too! Bargain. /s

  44. J J Carter Silver badge
    Boffin

    Got it.

    Thinking outside the box here, simply require all drones to run Windows 10 and they'd crash themselves.

    1. Adam 1 Silver badge

      Re: Got it.

      Or maybe they could mandate the use of Logitech harmony APIs.

  45. Dave Bell

    I am wondering how anyone could have spotting a drone flying around an airport at about 3am in December. It could be flying using GPS waypoints, so the operator doesn't need it to be showing a light, but just how are they detecting it? Radar? They're not stealthed but they're not a big target, and a lot of the aviation business relies on transponders for routine use. There will be some radar which uses the echo, has to be in case something goes wrong, and that sort of radar has been spoofed since the 1940s.

    It seems possible that there is no drone, and something else is being detected, but, even if the plane doesn't crash, sucking something into a jet engine is expensive.

    1. Orv Silver badge

      If it's a decently-sized "industrial" type drone, I think radar would have no trouble detecting it at that range. I'm told geese show up pretty well and they probably don't reflect radar nearly as well as something metal.

      In the past drone reports have mostly been due to pilots seeing and reporting them, sometimes after a near miss. It's possible it was originally detected that way.

    2. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      You're assuming the operators didn't want the drones to be seen. Everything points to the opposite.

  46. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why can’t they just use TV license detector vans to track it down?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Because there is an acute shortage of roof racks and 1960's era vans

  47. shpark1

    Gatwick's chief operating office says "We have had the police, we have had the military seeking to bring this drone down for the last 24 hours and to date that has not been successful." ( https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/live/2018/dec/20/gatwick-airport-drone-travel-chaos-disruption-live-updates )

    If that's true that the military involvement began 24 hours ago, whereas the press reports only had the military stepping in much more recently around 4 pm.

    They don't seem to have done much good, though!

    1. diodesign (Written by Reg staff) Silver badge

      "the military involvement began 24 hours ago"

      ICBW but the chief, speaking off-the-cuff to reporters badgering him for info, may mean that combined the police and military have been involved in the past 24 hours - the armed forces coming in the past four hours.

      C.

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Meh

    Aren't quadcopters immense power hogs? Even if you had batteries wired in series, you wouldn't get flight times that much greater than an hour, so maybe a winged craft is what's being sought after?

    And as for it not being seen as terrorism, how about economic "terrorism"?

    1. cornetman

      Re: Meh

      I would put money on it being about the proposed expansion of Gatwick.

    2. rmason Silver badge

      Re: Meh

      It's more than one drone.

      It/they are only doing short flights to keep it closed. few minutes every few hours. It's not constantly in the air.

  49. segillum

    Where's the BOFH and PFY when you need them? Given the skill set they displayed in 'Robot Wars' I'd bet they could sort this drone problem sharpish.

  50. dfsmith

    Three words...

    Fetchez la vache!

  51. elgarak1

    What if you do not have anything to shoot at?

    The drone flies around long enough to be spotted. By the time the guys with the guns arrive it's gone.

    What now? Of course police and security will search, but it's bound to be a large area to search. Meanwhile, you cannot risk flying planes while there's a drone nutter around. Likewise, you cannot jam all the time. You're bound to jam something you'll need to organize the plane-flying. Jamming and shutting down goes hand-in-hand.

    It's a rather effective way to shut down an airport or other facility for a bit. And I don't see much that can be done against it at all facilities. (It's similar in a way that you cannot prevent a car to be driven into a large group of people. You can only make certain groups of people less likely targets.)

    Likewise, licensing and restrictions for drone operators won't do shit. Evil-minded people do not give a fuck about that – see 9/11 – or the terrorists driving trucks into people.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      "What now? Of course police and security will search, but it's bound to be a large area to search."

      There's at least one police helicopter involved and they have some pretty decent heat sensitive cameras for tracking suspects in the dark and through underbrush. That might even be why the military have been ask to help.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      " Likewise, you cannot jam all the time. You're bound to jam something you'll need to organize the plane-flying."

      Or that an ambulance, fire truck, or police car may need.

      An ill considered response could kill a lot more people than a smallish drone will, if kept up long enough.

    3. Jason Bloomberg Silver badge

      you cannot risk flying planes while there's a drone nutter around.

      Except they are doing that now.

      They could have taken the risk anyway but I can understand why they wouldn't.

      I am not convinced the risk now is really much lower than it has been since they first closed Gatwick.

      1. elgarak1

        I'm wondering about that too. If they are competent, they are sure that a risk of a drone strike is negligible.

        That is easily explainable by the police and authorities not telling everything they know. Which they often do for good reasons. Like that they know of someone who did it who fled the scene, and they're now looking for them somewhere else. But that's speculation until they tell us more.

  52. elgarak1

    I just read that the drones go up every time the airport tries to re-open.

    Again, there's only one way to clear this particular incident: Find the operators who launch the drones. Or scare them away by putting up lots of people all around the airport with guns to shoot down enough of the drones – but you need to be sure the operators are gone, or who they were, to make sure they're not coming back, so you're back to having to find them. There's nothing else.

    And that takes time.

    1. IainWR

      I don't see anyone, including the author of the article who is a pretty fair rifle shot himself, explaining just how difficult it is to hit a small object moving unpredictably in three dimensions using a hand-held optically-sighted unguided weapon - at night.

  53. RancidRodent

    Hoax or not...

    Hoax or not, the reaction to this incident - a total shutdown of major UK infrastructure - is undoubtedly going to cause a flurry of copycat attacks. Reduce the number of lemon F-35Bs we're buying by two or three and use the money to join Israel's Iron Beam project so the UK could have an independent, viable laser weapon system in pretty short order.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Hoax or not...

      Is it possible it's not a hoax or a drone, but given the nature of paranoia, etc. it's actually a large bird?

      1. RancidRodent

        Re: Hoax or not...

        Large bird? Maybe Jo Brand has taken up powered hang gliding?

  54. The elephant in the room
    Black Helicopters

    Video of it flying or it doesn't exist.

    This has been going on for a day with tens of thousands of people with mobile phones, blanket CCTV coverage and presumably many media crews in the area, and still no video of the Phantom Menace. How is this possible?

    Is there really a drone out there, or is it a smokescreen while the authorities prevent somebody or something from leaving or arriving at Gatwick?

    Or are they keeping the air lanes clear for an aerial armada of bombers / alien invasion fleet / ruling-class evacuation shuttle?

    Or have they decided that we are not allowed drones and need to engineer a reason to ban them?

    Or are they just practicing for what they can't admit all UK airports will be like on 29th March next year? (Admittedly the last one is unlikely as that would suggest somebody is planning ahead).

    1. Supercruise

      Re: Video of it flying or it doesn't exist.

      Quote "Or have they decided that we are not allowed drones and need to engineer a reason to ban them?"

      I think you hit the nail on the head - Gov. has been getting a hard time getting this through parliament but get 7mil onside and they can't lose plus it's a great diversion while they play "Brexit".

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Re: Video of it flying or it doesn't exist.

        Except parliament has gone home for Christmas, so May has already stalled the clock another 14 days. No point doing anything now, as they won't respond.

        Indeed, that's likely the reason for the timing.

  55. SqueakyDuckPants

    I have a better idea...

    Yeah, I have a better idea: let's just stare up at the sky and do nothing while a $10k drone stops a $1 billion airport.

    How long have drones been about and nobody has seriously devised a counter-drone strategy? How hard can it be to design a drone that safely captures or demobilises another one? What is our defence budget being spent on - 1908 Pattern Webbing?

    1. tfb Silver badge
      Alien

      Re: I have a better idea...

      The answer is: it's really hard to do that.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Re: I have a better idea...

        It's been the "Age of Austerity" for the last 8 years in the UK. Unless central government funded it directly, it wasn't going to happen.

        I'd love a few million quid budget and the licenses to be working on this stuff, but there's no tender, and no government plan.

        Oh, but they knew this was a threat before we voted for Brexit, so they could plan ahead... Oh wait, bad example.

  56. Paul Rawdon

    Fox Hunting Not real foxes but radio ones

    The art of Fox Hunting that is searching for a hidden radio transmitter seems to be forgotten here. It's a simple matter of triangulating the source of the signal and you've got the culprit. Any EX GPO radio inspector would have the know how, after all, they would have spent many hours tracking pirate radio stations.

    1. ShadowDragon8685

      Re: Fox Hunting Not real foxes but radio ones

      If it were that simple, they'd have done it by now. Either the little bastard if obfuscating where its signals are going somehow, it's not taking its orders directly from its base station somehow, or they've done something else clever.

    2. Inventor of the Marmite Laser Silver badge

      Re: Fox Hunting Not real foxes but radio ones

      How does that work if the drone is autonomously following a GPS flight plan ?

      1. ShadowDragon8685

        Re: Fox Hunting Not real foxes but radio ones

        Quite poorly, as it happens.

        It would be like implementing anti-card-counting measures against someone who is cheating by psychically remote viewing the cards in the other players' hands.

  57. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Drones are noisy

    Many years ago I attempted to find somewhere to have outdoor sex on the South Downs without risk of discovery. It was surprisingly difficult.

    This operator has to find multiple quiet locations in a densely populated area.

    The best chance plod have is of someone witnessing a take off or landing. Unless the locals appreciate the peace and quiet...

    1. AdrianMontagu

      Re: Drones are noisy

      It probably takes off from a field or a car park.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Re: Drones are noisy

        If I were doing this, there would be a van with a pop-top for "shoot and scoot" recovery, wireless chargers, several drones, and several redundant backup C&C frequencies.

        The most likely thing to track is the video feed from the drone camera. That could be toggled on and off easily, and would likely be at 2.4 and/or 5Ghz - hard to locate, and hard to jam. And, completely non-essential.

        GPS might get tinkered with, eventually, so ensure the ultrasonics tell the drone not to fly into the ground, and use the on board inertial sensors to ignore GPS jumps (which they already do) Have the drones alert you to take control of it if GPS lost, or "moves" it outside the operating area.

        There's plenty more tricks, too. Thermal shielding, radio relays, and so on.

        Total budget? Under £50k, assuming the manpower is covered by the usual FSB or whatever staff budget, or is free. (Unlikely these are free operators though - they're trained.)

        1. ShadowDragon8685

          Re: Drones are noisy

          Also, make sure you've had someone thoroughly scrub it to remove forensic evidence, and change the "return to base" function to make the thing go and kamikaze somewhere it'll be unpleasant if it pops up, in the event they do manage to jam it; say, Buckingham Palace, the Eye, another airport altogether, or whatever's reasonably within autonomous flight range and will cause sufficient monocle-popping, tut-tut action if the drone karooms inbound at high speeds and might, maybe, cause some minor disruption (on the political scale) like landing on someone's head, or causing an automobile collision or something.

          Of course, that's assuming a fully-malevolant, terrorism-minded actor. More likely just program it to ditch in the nearest body of water if you're some kind of properly-pissed-off activist, but aren't (in your mind) looking to add any terror charges or murder beefs to your rap sheet.

          A proper terrorist, especially with state backing, could do *so much worse* with one of these things than piss on an airport's operations that it isn't funny. Air-deployed nerve agents, anyone? Kamikaze drone bombs? Airborne gyro-stabilized weapon platform armed with a chopped-down rifle or something?

          Any or all of that would be easily within Vlad's means if he felt like that.

  58. allankey

    Helper Drones

    What about a helper drone to pull it down?

    The helper drone could be armed with attachments that stick to the naughty drone and drag it out of the sky.

    The helper could also deploy a parachute to prevent the falling drones causing damage.

  59. Winkypop Silver badge
    Flame

    Flamethrowers

    Dirty great big flamethrowers!!!

    /joke

  60. Fred West
    Black Helicopters

    Option D

    Follow it back to its recharge station...

    Seriously over 48 hours how many times would it needed to shave returned home?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Option D

      "Seriously over 48 hours how many times would it needed to shave returned home?"

      Once for every tme it flew.

      A good consumer drone may have an endurance of 10 to 25 minutes depending on how you are flying, and it would be silly to cut your margins too much. Logically, maximum flight time should be 10 to 15 minutes.

      Then you must recharge or swap batteries.

      How many times has it been seen more than 15 minutes after the last sighting? Make that your lower estimate for the number of flights.

      Maximum? Not sure.

      Presumably it is trying to be seen, so many of the flights should have been noticed. Count them, and presume there may or may not have been a few more.

      1. YetAnotherLocksmith

        Re: Option D

        Multiple drones, wireless charging, multiple locations.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Option D

          Wireless charging? Get real!

  61. DeeCee

    its easier to ask for forgiveness than for permission, shoot it now, then, if anybody protests make some excuses, it was black and threatening or smth, consult US cops for ideas

  62. HardyEsterhuizen

    The end result of bureaucracy, red tape and nanny statism: Paralysis

    A few decades ago, an expert marksman would have been despatched, the thing shot down and the owner traced and charged with any ensuing collateral damage or injury as the consequences are rightfully their responsibility. And nobody would be going on about permits or property permissions or remote risks of everything imaginable under the sky.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: The end result of bureaucracy, red tape and nanny statism: Paralysis

      A few years ago, there weren't drones flying about. There are no "expert marksmen" who can shoot down a drone. When they turn the lights off, you can't even see them at 200 yards. Then they turn them on, and what, you guess the distance and what's located where your bullets come down?

  63. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The BREXIT Saga

    Could this be a party trying to show what happens if P.M T. May’s “Brexit deal” fails and air craft can’t fly with a no deal Brexit?

  64. Thought About IT

    Downwash it

    The downwash from a helicopter is enough to flip a light aircraft out of control, so a drone wouldn't stand a chance against it. The helicopter would simply have to choose a safe spot to fly over it, maybe 50-100 ft above, to take it out.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: Downwash it

      Perhaps try flying a modern drone in wind. They react faster than a human, and don't get flipped. And even if they do (they often have a stunt mode) they can recover automatically after falling a few metres.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Downwash it

        They used a helicopter to down a Mavic (Pro?) at a surfing event:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bW7wBqNPPec

        1. Dave Henderson 1
          Thumb Down

          Re: Downwash it

          Wow. That was incredibly stupid.

  65. Duffaboy
    Alert

    Has any one thought

    That this could just be kids messing about with drones as they have broken up early for christmas.

  66. greenwood-IT

    Tracking?

    I seem to remember something about Nimrods tracking cars from dozens of miles away. Surely 30 years on a simple helicopter up high can track the drone to it's landing site? How about thermal imaging looking upwards? These things use a lot of power and need to be recharged regularly... by returning to the owner. The drone may well be streaming live video back to the pilot, listening in to that broadcast may give you clues as to where it's coming and going from. There seems to be a total lack of facts, photos and information on this. The police saying "we're confident we have it under control" when they seem to have done nothing doesn't boost confidence.

  67. This post has been deleted by its author

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not that difficult

    You can use a directional 1GHz jammer to take out GPS in a very limited area.

    Combine this with 433/866/2400/5800 MHz jammer, and most quads should land in place, or hover until they fall down.

    Russia uses false GPS signals in the black sea and Moscow center to offset the location by a few kilometres to avoid GPS drone attacks.

    Not sure if there are any easy to use EMP weapons.

    Finally there is another solution. Use race quads (racer drones) to take it down. Make intentional collision. Even if you can not repair the race quad it i like $200 lost. If you want to save mone, onther solution is having the race quad carry a long kevlar/dynema thread with a nut counterwieght at the end. Attached to the race drone with a thin sewing thread that will break when the big drone grabs the kevlar and kills its own motors by entangling itself in the kevlar.

    A race quad has a short flying time (3-4 min), but flies 150 km/h to get out there. So 3 km in a little over a minute. Just expect it to land out and be retrieved.

    I am told that some military forces now uses man portable drone jammers.

    Problem with drones is the frequency they use. Can by anything. From 27MHz to 5.8GHz is normal. Anything in betwen can be used. Some long distance pilots uses cellular.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: Not that difficult

      I love the way you say it isn't difficult, and then end up explaining why it is impossible. Smooth.

  69. 2Fat2Bald

    Shotguns are definitely a better option than rifles, any gamekeeper will tell you that.

    As far as jamming goes - they'd have to block rather a lot of channels to down the drone, since most of them use frequency hopping. There is the usual 2.4 Ghz band. It could also be using 5ghz, or maybe using WiFi or mobile data etc etc. And how do you tell if the signal you're jamming is the drone control signal out of the morass of signals you're typically dealing with? - of course it could simply be pre-programmed with waypoints so not using a signal at all.

    You can keep a heli in the area to look for it, but that would have the same essential effect as the drone (!) if help in the air. If kept on the ground, contrary to what you see in action movies, taking off in a helicopter takes several minutes - especially from a major international airport. So by the time the thing is in the air the drone probably will have vanished again.

    Does it strike anyone else as odd that apparently nobody has come forward to claim responsibility for this?

  70. TheSkunkyMonk

    Wait why is everyone making this so complicated, nearly every off the shelf drone is vulnerable to simple exploits ffs most can even be sent to the ground with a basic wireless de auth or with a little radio jamming...

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      It almost certainly isn't one of those. Skilled operators and a modified drone means it unlikely it's running an open wifi connection with an open Telnet channel now.

  71. DrXym Silver badge

    Looking forward to seeing who gets arrested

    I bet when they arrest whoever it is, it'll turn out they have some long standing grudge against the airport. Maybe they're a local farmer unhappy with a compulsary land purchase, or somebody aggrieved about the noise of aircraft, or someone who missed their flight. I expect the police are already sifting through the crazy files looking for potential suspects.

    I hope it was worth it for their safe because given the scale of the incident they'll be in prison for several years at least.

  72. Illsay
    Trollface

    Britannia rules the airwaves!

    Soon the UK will be able to deal with this, without all the objections mentioned in the article, for which of course the EU was to blame.

  73. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The media are being a bit crap.

    I want pictures or the drone.

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: The media are being a bit crap.

      I'd rather have the drone, tbh. I'd use it for fun and good things though.

  74. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What would they do in more down-to-earth country? Major Israeli airport? It would have been shot down within about 30 minutes. The collateral risk of bullets falling is tiny.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      British army bought Israeli system

      The British army bought 6 Drone Dome systems from Israel.

      That's what Israel uses, except their version brings down drones using jamming and lasers. The laser burns a hole right through the drone. The British army opted not to buy the laser add-on, just the jamming.

      Israel's Iron Dome can also bring down drones, but that means shrapnel potentially raining down.

      This system has already been used by the British army in Syria to protect soldiers from ISIS drone attacks.

  75. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Call Elon Musk

    In fact surprised he's not turned up uninvited with his mini-submarine, not sure what use it would be but it wasn't fit for purpose in Thailand, that didn't stop him. But he's a genius so he'll have converted it to be amphibious, just superglue wings and a jet engine on to the sub.

  76. Richard Cranium

    RAF?

    Reports are that the Army has been called in - why Army but not RAF?

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: RAF?

      why Army but not RAF?

      Which do you think is more capable of dealing with a threat that is slow moving and doesn't go above about 800 feet?

      What has the RAF got that can deal with what is essentially a mobile but ground-based threat?

      I suppose they could carpet-bomb Gatwick?

    2. Nick

      Re: RAF?

      If they called in the RAF then perhaps we'd all notice that they don't actually have any planes left after all the years of right-sizing?

  77. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Laser cannon. Job done.

  78. AdrianMontagu

    Set a thief to catch a thief

    Racing Drone enthusiasts could be allowed to disable the geofencing on their devices. They could then be allowed to chase after the rogue drone when it appears. We need to find the operator. The rogue drone is just a drone in the wrong hands.

    It worries me that we don't yet have a solution.

    One rogue drone carrying botulinum toxin or Novichok flying into central London doesn't bear thinking about.

    1. TheOldFellow

      Re: Set a thief to catch a thief

      Yes, indeed. It's all very well for us to have a good joke at the expense of our incompetent politicians and certifiably insane Civil Servants, not to mention the hugely expensive but incompetent police, but actually this is bloody serious.

  79. liquidsmoke66

    WTF guys. Isn't this so obvious!?

    We obviously need a Police drone squadron and launch an air-to-air attack on the enemy drones. I can't believe they've not done this yet. Just think; Robot wars style 'in house' police drones wearing new lockheed-martin lightweight drone lasers. Obviously streamed live on YouTube with aptly named call-signs to identify each plod drone. In fact; sign me up. I want to drive one!

  80. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    optional title is optional

    just tell the people on the *(insert as appropriate) , that their plane is not leaving the gate, until the drone operator is found. Job done. zero police expenditure.

    *stag/hen parties heading out for their beer'n'sex tours of Corfu/Ibiza/Malaga/Magaluf

    *Scottish coach party with suspiciously little sun cream - heading to the Costas

    *Rugby/Football/Hockey club "boys/girls on tour"

    or even, just tell the holiday insurance firms what's going on, and what's losing them their money. then the problem will probably disappear all on its own.

    Ahhh, the magical image of an insurance salesman repeatedly hitting a chav with a baseball bat and screaming "can I interest you in some life insurance??"

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: optional title is optional

      And if the operator turns out to be three heavy set Russian operators with weapons?

      1. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

        Re: optional title is optional

        Three heavy set Russian operators with weapons are no match for an insurance company trying to get out of paying out.

        We should have insured our ships in WW2, the u-boat menace would have miraculously disappeared.

  81. Emjay111

    Looks like they've rolled out some interesting pieces of kit on the roof at Gatwick. Anyone know what this is (apart from the TV antenna!) ?

    https://tinyurl.com/ya52bt7y

    https://tinyurl.com/y87mn8tw

    https://tinyurl.com/ybsgqyvg

  82. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The real point of all this

    For a fairly long time people who like to think about these things have worried about how easy it is to launch a hugely asymmetric attack on critical infrastructure, with using-a-drone-to-close-an-airport being one pretty obvious approach (my previous favourite was lorry-full-of-explosives-under-M25-bridge-at-4am: you kill probably no-one but you shut the M25 for a few weeks or months).

    Well, now someone has done just that, so now everyone knows how easy such attacks are. So it's no longer just people who like to play 'what if' games who know you can do this, but people who might like to fuck stuff up for real.

    How much weight can drones carry? What does it take to blow a significant hole in the roof of a datacentre?

    1. YetAnotherLocksmith

      Re: The real point of all this

      Why waste a drone attracting attention, unless you're wanting attention? Better to pop up every so often, just like they are here.

      Also, why blow up a bridge, and not simply make them fall down randomly? The latter makes the government look worse than some nutter blowing something up.

  83. Dominic Shields

    Serious question, apologies if someone has already asked:

    During WW2, how many reports were there of people on the ground being killed or injured on the ground by stray rounds from aerial dogfighting? I do not mean people on the ground being intentionally shot at.

  84. devTrail

    Is it a joke?

    Is this article serious? There are already a lot of anti-drone technologies out there. Bigger drones equipped with a net, short range jammers and so on. A lot of airports are already equipped, it seems that Gatwick wasn't.

  85. TheOldFellow

    Where is the RAF when you need them?

    Don't we pay an inordinate amount of money for an air force?

    This is an aerial attach on UK critical infrastructure. Deploy the same tech as the RAF use to protect their airfields.

    What? They don't have any tech to protect their airfields?

    So why do we have to pay for the RAF if Russia can neutralize it with a dozen big drones?

    1. Alister Silver badge

      Re: Where is the RAF when you need them?

      As I posted above in response to a similar question:

      What resources do you think the RAF has which are capable of dealing with a threat that is slow moving and doesn't go above about 800 feet?

      What has the RAF got that can deal with what is essentially a mobile but ground-based threat?

  86. MrKrotos

    shoot down the drones using a rifle or a shotgun

    Good luck with that!

    I fly RC Helis and Planes, we have often had friends trying to shoot at our models for fun (legal shotguns on private land). Even shooting an RC Helicopter is VERY hard let alone a drone!

    1. ShadowDragon8685
      Holmes

      Re: shoot down the drones using a rifle or a shotgun

      I feel obliged to point out that an RC helicopter could, and really should, be defined as a form of drone.

      1. MrKrotos

        Re: shoot down the drones using a rifle or a shotgun

        Lol, do you even know what "drone" means?

        Drones and Helicopters are VERY different, for starters it takes much longer to learn how to fly a helicopter, most drones can be flown by anyone!

  87. BanburyBill

    An urban myth, eh? Presumably the picture is a fake? At least sixteen V-1s were destroyed this way, says https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/V-1_flying_bomb#Interceptors. And I've talked to a bloke who, as a youngster, saw it done...

  88. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Signal Jamming

    Working out what specific frequencies(s) the a drone is using is difficult.

    We're not talking about a single channel on 35Mhz, modern systems use frequency hopping and spread spectrum to reduce interference, you'd need to know all the frequencies that the hopping uses and the pattern. Also what band? 433Mhz, 459Mhz, 1.2Ghz, 2.4Ghz or 5.8Ghz can all be used and often switched between on the fly.

    That being said, Spektrum DSMX protocol has been cracked and can be hijacked. Other systems are more robust.

  89. Paul Stimpson

    First thing I would do is get a drone video receiver. If the person doing this is hiding and doesn't have line of sight to the craft, they will, most likely, be flying by video. If they're using off-the-shelf kit (likely) it will probably be on one of the standard 5.8 GHz video channels. Watch (and record) the pictures from the drone and follow it home. If the perp is careless, you may even get a pic of them.

  90. un

    Use whats already there.

    If its flying at a low enough level, pretty sure one of the many airport fire tenders would be able to use its roof monitor and take it down safely with a blast of water.

  91. Milton Silver badge

    Get your ballistics right

    Bullets are not magic. They are slowed down by air resistance. using a small, high-velocity round like a Nato 5.56mm or a slower, civilian .22LR, at the kind of steep angle required to shoot at drones (above about 35°) means the round will have shed all its muzzle energy before its reaches the ground again, about four miles away: it will be travelling at its terminal velocity—about as fast as if you'd dropped this tiny piece of jacketed lead from a plane. It might crack a window. It would sting like hell if it hit flesh. The chances of serious damage to thing or person is remote indeed. People in Crawley would be at far greater risk of being run over. (We're not talking about bigger bullets like 7.62mm or even .50-cal: they're just not necessary.)

    As for the crippled drone, (a) every airport conducts routine runway sweeps for debris, and clearing up very obvious drone wreckage is hardly a chore compared with an airport shut for 24 hours, and (b) there are actually very few people exposed to the open air around the airport: the drones aren't flying over Horley or Crawley, they're flying—so we're told—over vast swathes of unoccupied runway and threshold.

    The props of a drone are extremly vulnerable, and they are fragile. A few rounds through its blades will drop it like a sack of shit. Possibly the worst case is that the drone slews on the way down and hits a grounded plane. But these are not exactly parked wing to wing across the entire airport, they're mostly stuck at the jetways and on the ramps. That calls for some judgment about where to engage the drone; given the huge amount of open field space around Gatwick, this isn't a hard call to make, surely?

    The arguments against using small-calibre rifles to shoot them down just do not stack up.

  92. Milton Silver badge

    Web-a-goo

    I am still dumbfounded that the idea of an anti-drone dropping a web-of-goo hasn't been fast-tracked. One big problem with bringing drones down is the risk of debris or an entire drone falling on a person or expensive kit. A way to get them down relatively slowly is ideal.

    The answer is an anti-drone which flies above the offender, and dispenses a broad fan of quick-setting, expanding goo—like an insulating foam spray, but with more of a tendency to form threads. Enough of this gets sucked straight into the offender's props. On exposure to air it immediately begins setting. It goes from sprayed gloop to nasty, sticky, elasticky consistency in a few seconds and becomes really stiff after about 30 seconds. At first it is like entangling the props in spider's web, before getting increasingly thick and encumbering

    You can picture the process. The enemy drone progressively loses prop motion and is forced down, but it is not simply deadweight: the landing, from a few hundred feet or so, is relatively soft.

    (It would probably be possible to fire these things from the ground, as proximity-detonated splatter cartridges. But a drone dispenser would seem a practical first step.)

  93. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    6. There were no drones

    Forty, yes forty 'sightings' of the 'drones'. Not consumer drones, we are told, but 'large, industrial drones'. This was repeated throughout the incident.

    Forty 'sightings', yet, during those forty 'sightings' nobody with a camera and a telephoto lens took a picture? Nobody said where the drone was, and directed, maybe a police helicopter/drone with infrared cameras to locate where is was going.

    There was ONE video that reportedly showed 'the drone' but all it showed was something that looked like a DJI Phantom, which is NOT a large industrial drone. And we don't know where it was in relation to airport or whether is was one being used by the emergency services.

    There were over 100,000 stranded passengers at Gatwick, plus all the staff and all the people in the surrounding area, yet no actual evidence of anything.

    1. Paul Stimpson

      Re: 6. There were no drones

      I also have doubts about what "industrial specification" means and what this craft might have been. If the person writing the statement knew their drones, it's fairly specific and there are a limited number of craft that such a description would cover. I suspect, however, that the person making the statement probably didn't know the subject and "industrial specification" probably means anything larger and more imposing looking than a DJI Phantom rather than a professional-use craft.

      As a member of the multirotor (drone) flying community, I'd like to say the person doing this isn't representative of us. I don't know of anyone in our club who wouldn't grass the offender up if they knew who it was. I hope they are caught swiftly, made an example of by the law then sued into oblivion by the airport and airlines for their commercial losses. A court injunction prohibiting the person from owning or flying any kind of drone or model aircraft for life would also seem appropriate. The last thing that we, as a community, need is some knee jerk law passed because politicians and the Daily Mail think something has to be seen to be done. The things this person has done are already illegal under multiple laws. Those laws now need to be enforced severely and publicly.

  94. disgustedoftunbridgewells Silver badge

    I did wonder what rubber bullets, that Italian police used to be fond of using on English football fans would do to A: the drone, B: whatever they hit when they missed.

    Presumably they are non-lethal but would they cause enough damage to the drone.

    I would also assume that military helicopter pilots would be fine with the risk of having a drone flying at them - considering they've been intentionally used to trick missiles into flying at them rather than aircraft carriers.

  95. The March Hare
    Black Helicopters

    Dropping the drone is not the answer!

    OK let's say you come up with a safe and foolproof method of taking the drone(s) down - you still don't know who/ how /why do you?

    so all the perp does is move to another airfield and do it all over again, having proved the concept beyond doubt.

    icon - obvs!

  96. Quotes
    Black Helicopters

    Eye In The Sky vs Drone (Robot) Wars

    The drone doesn’t need an operator for control (it could be pre-programmed) but it does need one for battery charging. So we need an Eye in the Sky military drone to video the entire airfield and surrounding area, and when it appears you rewind the recording to find it’s origin.

    Or when it appears we send up a fleet of drones for aerial combat. Drones could be deployed to different areas in readiness, or they could maintain continuous monitoring at close quarters, and follow the thing home.

  97. steviebuk Silver badge

    On a sidenote

    The Eddie Mitchel image. Blurred the face on the left then obviously couldn't be bothered to blur it on the right.

  98. Ian Johnston Silver badge

    So, given that the whole "drone" story is extremely fishy, why did the Powers That Be want to shut Gatwick down for a day?

  99. TheSirFin

    Paw Patrol has the answer

    Cant believe nobody has built Chases net from Paw Patrol. Its the only answer.......

    Guess I am off to the shed to build it then.....

    Back in a mo!

  100. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Do we know yet?

    What was the real cause of all of this?

    A couple of ne-er do wells flying a drone (drones) in heavy downpours? Problems: the rain was so heavy at times, the drones would not have been able to fly, they were (it was) up for unfeasibly long time, these things are a lot less dangerous than you think. If they hit a windscreen at 400 miles an hour, they will probably scratch it. If they go through a turbine, you get confetti.

    This is not much of an excuse for the blind panic that seized "the authorities" causing them to close the biggest airport in the far south of England for that long.

    So what was the real reason? Conspiracy enthusiasts would really like to know!

  101. Paul 75

    The obvious solution

    I'm surprised that nobody has already proposed the obvious solution - mounted cowboys with lassos - if the drones are too high, simply use flying horses.

  102. The elephant in the room

    Simple solution

    Why don't they simpy feed the datastream from accoustic sensors, signal triangulation, radar, lidar, IR and optical sensors on ground-based and high-altitude observation platforms into a neural network trained to detect drones, and present the results as tracks on a map?

    Then all they have to do is go to the take-off point, tazer the operator and take control of the drone, or if they are not there, vaporize it with a laser or microwave beam. Job done, what is so difficult about that?

    OK I am joking, but some of these elements could be developed to protect airports and other key installations from drones in the future?

  103. narbadingi

    Fire Crews

    Don't airports have a standing fire service? What's the range of their hoses?

  104. STOP_FORTH
    Thumb Up

    Ballistas loaded with ostrich eggs

    Unused eggs can be used to feed passengers trapped in airport.

  105. Handle123456

    All they'd have to do is fly it into the rotor blades...

    "All they'd have to do is fly it into the rotor blades – or into the glass canopy protecting the pilots."

    And would they be able to? I mean I'd expect the helicopter to make such a mess in the air flow that the drones would end up in somersaults. That is if the helicopter comes from above. I doubt the drones can fly as high so a copter coming from above might be able to catch the drones into a net without actually dropping anything to the ground.

  106. ThePieMan

    Drone v Drone

    Surely the solution is - use another drone to crash the nuisance drone out of the sky....

  107. anonymous boring coward Silver badge

    I suggest using a sacrificial drone that blows up itself as well as the offending drone. Some lightweight shrapnel with low terminal velocity should be used.

  108. Muscleguy Silver badge
    Alert

    Beware

    Of opening the door on most lightweight helicopters. A story from NZ of analysis of a fatal crash of a Hughes 500 helicopter reckons a pair of overtrousers flew out of the cabin through an open door and into the tail rotor, stalling it and causing the crash. There are lots of reports of doors opening by themselves on flights of Hughes 500 helicopters.

    Sure if its a big old Apache with a side gunner then for it, but for net throwing from a small one you want to be very careful. For a start what if your net gets tangled in one of the rotors?

    Be careful out there.

  109. briesmith

    The British Disease

    It's been mentioned on here before but it will do no harm to revisit it. In 1942, when Britain had been at war for 3 years, the German Navy sailed most of its navy out of French ports in the Bay of Biscay, through the Channel and up the North Sea to home ports in Germany. While this 2 day voyage was going on, the British largely did nothing. And the reason for that inaction was the usual British disease of smugness; and infighting.

    It will have been the same during the 2 days a drone has brought Gatwick to a halt. The warnings over the years about drones will have been ignored; that's the smug bit. We've had drones for 10 years or more, even the kind of idiot that rises to the top in British military and civil service institutions could have foreseen that problems were looming. But smugness would have been their comfort. "If it ever happens, old boy, they'll probably crash or something, get eaten by birds or simply fail to find the airport. And if it does, I'll send Barkiss down there with me Purdey to take the bastards out. Nothing to worry about, old chap, must be lunch time now surely?"

    At the airport, the management will have been transfixed because no one has told them what to do or what to do it with. After all you don't get multi-million pound salaries for making decisions, well, definitely none that can be traced back to you. The police will be trying to find the right crime code on their reporting system while all the time saying it's the job of the RAF surely and advising that until they get a human rights decision from the CPS their hands are tied. The Army will be saying they could bring an artillery unit down in a week or so - probably get one back from Germany or something - and that'll be that. The RAF would help but they don't really want anything to do with drones, "No pilots, you see, not our sort of thing, old boy".

    And all the various services will have stood around, each waiting for the other to take ownership of the problem so they can immediately start to brief against them on the grounds that they told them their plan wouldn't work and only a fool would have ever contemplated doing that.

    Whoever the idiot with the drone is, he should have waited until early Sunday morning (like the Germans in 1942). If he'd done that, he could probably have shut Gatwick down until the new year. Pretty much anybody at any kind of senor level in British political, military or public service life will have been long gone for the Christmas break by the time Sunday rolls round.

    In case it helps, the contact number for the West Sussex Council's Resilience and Emergencies team is 033 022 22400. Resilience and Emergencies advisers are on call 24 hours a day. Apparently.

    1. RedCardinal

      Re: The British Disease

      >>While this 2 day voyage was going on, the British largely did nothing. And the reason for that inaction was the usual British disease of smugness; and infighting.

      Absolute drivel. There is not a shred of evidence to support your claim of "smugness" and "infighting"! I suggest you might want to actually read about the subject you're wittering about before spouting this nonsense. The Wikipedia article is a good start - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Dash

  110. PaulR79

    Send a drone to catch a drone

    I saw the opportunity to get a Demolition Man line in and I took it. With that said, why not send a drone up to take it / them down? If there isn't a drone in the army capable of doing this I'd be very surprised. I'm not talking about a heavily armed military drone but anything capable of heavy lifting able to hook it or snag it and pull it to a waiting plod would do. I don't understand the "debris might cause issues" excuse. Given what they're going to lose in terms of business and through compensation I think they could afford to pay a few people to go and thoroughly clean up any debris.

  111. Fishwife0001

    It's TL:RD with regard to the comments, I gave it an hour reading and that was enough. Lots of questions but one I've maybe missed Why are we not using radio direction detectors to triangulate to the origin of the control broadcast

    1. gotes

      Perhaps you should have read all of the comments. If the thing(s) are radio controlled, it's likely to be in the 2.4GHz range which is incredibly busy, making it difficult to identify which radio signal is controlling it. 2. It could be on a pre-programmed flight path which requires no radio control input.

    2. gotes

      Erm OK, I see your point re TL;DR.. The comments only filled two pages at most when I read them...

  112. mildy bemused

    Crazy Russian and his armed drone

    You have all clearly missed this guy's video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SNPJMk2fgJU

    1. gotes

      Re: Crazy Russian and his armed drone

      Interesting. I've read a lot of comments suggesting drone mounted shotgun, my thought is what would the rapid ejection of several grams of lead do to the poor bugger carrying it? My guess is it would send the thing spinning out of control and potentially damage it. The video looks pretty heavy on special effects, I assume your post was tongue in cheek.

      Edit: Having read one of your other replies, I'm assuming my assumption was correct. Double assumption!

      Also the gun sound reminds me of a unit from Command & Conquer: Red Alert. I forget which one!

  113. NeilHoskins

    FFS. Why is everybody banging on about how dangerous bullets are? Has nobody heard of shotguns?

  114. mildy bemused

    The prisoner

    The Village brought about a safe recovery of number 6 without endangering anyone.

    1. gotes

      Re: The prisoner

      A slightly modified weather balloon would have done the trick. I don't understand what all the fuss is about.

  115. gotes
    Joke

    Armchair expert here...

    Why haven't they launched an attack drone with a shotgun, radio triangulation equipment, nets, air-to-air guided missiles, a high powered laser, nuclear warhead, grappling hook and bird of prey?? Isn't it obvious? It's so simple toddler could have hunted it down within an hour. It's clearly a cover-up.

  116. normanicus

    Fly another drone straight into it? For the future develop a fast flying drone with a an infrared camera to lock onto the offending drone. All it would need would be a hanging wire and to fly close over it. The real problem, however, is readily detecting the offenders. Could a drone lock onto the signal and locate them?

  117. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Maybe they are really trying to track the drone(s)

    In order to identify the controller to most effectively eliminate the problem.

  118. Jake Maverick

    um, couple of thoughts....so called police routinely break the law every day, it's a job requirement...so that is hardly an excuse.

    they don't cause a problem in places like Iraq and afghanistan, they shoot them down all the time...i suspect more likely arguments going on whether to deploy that tech as plenty of journalists about and they don't want known how advanced their tech is....

    why no photos of this drone? surely somebody should have got some pics by now with a super duper lense?

    just leaves me with very uneasy suspicion something bigger going on here that we're not being told about....

  119. swampdog
    WTF?

    Just follow the damned thing!

    ..and if you can't, use this as an opportunity to discover the reasons why.

    Police follow leads. Before the police, people used to follow trails .. back into the midst of time where some creature would follow some other creature for some reason. Following is an evolutionary trait. The only hi-tech solution needed here is the ability to follow it.

  120. gotes
    Coat

    Request

    Could anyone who has no experience in aviation, law enforcement, military, please use the "get my coat" or "joke alert" icon when posting a comment suggesting "what they should have done". Thanks.

    Mine's the Russian pressure suit I bought from a surplus store.

  121. Strangelove

    Kit exists off the shelf to track radio transmitters on the move and to jam them,

    http://www.chemringts.com/products/electronic-warfare/resolve

    A UK company, by the look of it advertising on the web to sell stuff abroad.

    Someone needs to write out a requisition order.

  122. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Follow that drone.

  123. Roger Mew

    I know the reason for the delays on blocking the signal, they wanted to track it, however, the likely hood of tracking it is possibly worse than finding a needle in a hay stack. I used to teach radio and radar etc and with digital a micro second burst of RF sets the action, so to find the signal is very remote (no pun intended) so really blocking is the only course of action OR putting a very continuous action so for example sending it away with a signal of about 10 watts could see the thing going so high that the machine cannot be seen and just runs out of juice or of course down so it crashes. a direction signal will just make the thing go around and around. For my bet it is best to transmit a high power signal that sends it up. All these machines that are purchased have the same digital parameters so unless it is a very clever and stupid person that builds the thing himself the methodology will be the same for all.

    Get with UK authorities, you probably will not track it but sure as hell you can jam the machines.

  124. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    There are two reasons that the Police (and others) didn't take down the drones:

    1. There weren't any to start with - it was a total clusterfuck from start to finish; and

    2. Had there been drones they were too stupid to think of obvious ways to bring down drones.

    As Drones do have a significant potential use as attack weapons, carrying explosives say, then authorities do need to have designed ways to manage the risk. Drones are small and light, and probably have a negligible radar signature, so some form of optical spotting is probably needed. Shotgun or shotgun like weapons are the best use, using single projectiles (except maybe at long range) would seem an exercise in futility. So start with people armed with shotguns. Second attack the controls frequencies, and that would be pretty easy to saturate and block. And pre-programmed flight paths would be far less of a threat.

    Finally, spoof attacks can be, as this demonstrate, highly disruptive, so well designed programs to sort out if there is a real attack and threat would be another obvious development.

  125. RedCardinal

    We should just ban the use of drones outright, making it unlawful to own and/or use one. Just because the technology is available doesn't mean we should automatically sue it without considering what effect it might have.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Freudian typoe?

      "Just because the technology is available doesn't mean we should automatically sue it "

      So THAT's where we are going wrong here in the US!

      Theoria, poiesis, praxis, sueball! Not quite what Aristotle had in mind, methinks.

    2. illiad

      the problem with banning something is that the black market will provide it...:/

  126. FlamingDeath Bronze badge
    Joke

    They should open the airports to drone racing 1 day a week, there is clearly demand for it

    We could become world leaders

  127. Captain Boing
    Facepalm

    Get George Digweed in!

    A professional shot-gunner would have no trouble taking out the drone. And the article is wrong about spent shot representing a hazard as anyone who has been down-range on a shoot will testify.

    The forward motion of the shot (where the destructive speed is involved) is exhausted in the upward arc and by the time it starts falling is pretty much gone... if it wasn't the shot would carry on travelling on the leading edge of it's parabola, but no matter once it peaks, the speed is gone - and it starts to fall, losing forward momentum all the time. Spent shot, in such a situation, is a rain of tiny pellets (mostly steel now-a-days), no worse than - and in my experience, much less than - a hailstorm. - Been there, done that.

  128. Bill_Sticker
    Holmes

    I would have thought the answer was reasonably simple; armed counter-drone. Track signal, identify offending drone. Then using an anti-drone equipped with a lightweight double barrelled shotgun, closely pursue intruder to outside airport perimeter and shoot down.

    Using an aerospace material (Titanium) for barrel, breech and some form of composite for the firing mechanism the payload for an Anti-drone need not be more than the weight of a high definition camera.

    Or of course you could buy in the Israeli's 'Drone Dome' https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/Israeli-firm-unveils-Drone-Dome-that-defends-against-aerial-attacks-450915

  129. Beech Horn

    ... or just use a professional anti-drone service instead of those schemes?

    Professional services exist which mostly concentrate on tracking devices that small accurately and deploying drones with nets to catch the devices. AFAIK the leader of such devices is British https://www.dronedefence.co.uk/

    Ended up spitting out my coffee when the head of Gatwick said that the technology to stop drone attacks wasn't available yet. Such audacity in ignorance.

  130. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And now it's Heathrow's turn

    Monday 7 Jan: New anti-drone legislation announced (whether it will ever happen is a different question).

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46787730

    Tuesday 8 Jan: Just to make sure the message gets through, Heathrot airport is closed by reports of a drone sighting:

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-46803713

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