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Nice Côte d’Azur Airport is bounded on three sides by the sea, which is infested with oligarchs screaming around in powerboats and industrialists on huge yachts, all in close proximity (meanwhile the airport is full of their private jets).

A lot of this and other incessant marine activity takes place within swimming distance of the edge of the airport itself. The airport looks remarkably vulnerable to someone who could in effect simply swim up to the edge of the runway.

How is the security of this apparently porous perimeter, and that at other airports in similar positions, maintained?

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  • $\begingroup$ In the background (top) "La promenade des Anglais' beach, where a terrorist attack occurred in 2016. This is the west side of the runways, seen from river "le Var" (bottom of your image). You can see the fence (see link below). Still from time to time... there is an intrusion in the security perimeter. $\endgroup$ – mins Nov 28 '18 at 11:04
  • $\begingroup$ The fence stops between runway ends and does not protect access from the waters: Geoportail aerial view. $\endgroup$ – mins Nov 28 '18 at 11:06
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Often time there will be a fence installed as is the case at Maho Beach where people line up at the fence to get up and close to takeoff. The fence appears to have what looks like barbed wire on top.

If there is not enough clearance markers in the water may denote an area for boats to stay out of. Such is the case in St Barts. Aside from creating something a prop can snag these provide little security.

Assuming its a controlled airfield there is a good chance the controller in the tower can physically see the coast (with binoculars). If you floated up in any boat of size there is a good change you would simply be seen.

If you are talking about the departure end of the runway, it can also be difficult to just walk up to the back of a spooled up jet.

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  • $\begingroup$ You can add video surveillance, intrusion detection systems and patrols (specially in France were the so-called "Plan Vigipirate" and "Sentinelle" are active). $\endgroup$ – mins Nov 28 '18 at 10:03
  • $\begingroup$ Often the intrusion detection systems are only installed around the aircraft parking areas to detect anyone attempting to approach and tamper with parked aircraft. The taxiways and runways are left merely to surveillance. Or, they may have ground radar running during non-usage hours that can detect intruders approaching from the sea area, with thermal image cameras that can "see" intruders at night. The technology also exists to tie these together, so the radar can detect the intruder, tell the camera where to look, and notify security while also tracking the intruder. $\endgroup$ – CrossRoads Nov 28 '18 at 14:06

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