Counter drone equipment is deployed on a rooftop at Gatwick airport in Gatwick, England, Friday, Dec. 21, 2018. Flights resumed at London's Gatwick Airport on Friday after drones sparked about 36 hours of travel chaos including the shutdown of the airfield, leaving tens of thousands of passengers stranded or delayed during the busy holiday season. Pic: John Stillwell/PA via AP

Gatwick Airport has spent millions of pounds on military-grade anti-drone equipment to prevent a repeat of the massive disruption before Christmas.

Around 1,000 flights and tens of thousands of passengers were affected when reports of drone sightings were made in the run-up to the big festive getaway.

The Army and its hardware were brought in to prevent the small flying crafts from grounding any more planes. The airport’s investment means that this military equipment has now been withdrawn.

Heathrow has also recently purchased cutting-edge technology, according to The Times, as airports across the world weigh up how to respond to a similar threat.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: ‘The military capability has now been withdrawn from Gatwick. The Armed Forces stand ever ready to assist should a request for support be received.’

From December 19 to 21, the airport was repeatedly forced to close due to reported drone sightings.

The Israeli-developed Drone Dome system was believed to have been included in the technology used by the Army. The equipment can detect and jam communications between a drone and its operator and was deployed on a roof at Gatwick.

The system is said to have a range of several miles and uses four radars to give 360-degree detection to identify and track targets. The MoD declined to specify when the Army withdrew the equipment.

Last week Sussex Police Chief Constable Giles York said police had received 115 reports of sightings in the area.

These included 93 confirmed as coming from ‘credible people’ including a pilot and airport staff.

However some reports of drones in the area may have involved the police’s own craft, he admitted.

But Mr York added he was ‘absolutely certain’ that a drone was flying near the runways during the three days of disruption.

A Gatwick spokesman said: ‘The airport invested several million pounds to ensure it is equipped to the level provided by the Armed Forces and this was in place within days of the main drone incident on December 20.

‘This new equipment bolsters the detection and safety protocols the airport already had in place, which were effective in ensuring the safety of our airfield during the incident.’

© Daily Mail