UK — Ground-based air defence systems tested in Olympics security exercise

Test­ing of air defence mis­sile sys­tems as part of the Olympic Games secu­ri­ty plan began today at sites across Lon­don.

The Starstreak high veloc­i­ty mis­sile sys­tem is part of the pro­posed ground-based air defence mea­sures which will pro­vide secu­ri­ty dur­ing the Lon­don Olympics (stock image) [Pic­ture: Crown Copyright/MOD]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
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The sys­tems are being placed at six sites in and around Lon­don for test­ing with dum­my mis­siles as part of Exer­cise Olympic Guardian.

The nine-day exer­cise is aimed at test­ing the mil­i­tary con­tri­bu­tion to the over­all secu­ri­ty effort and is putting air­men, sol­diers and sailors through their paces in the skies over the South East.

It includes the use of the Typhoon fight­ers which arrived at RAF Northolt yes­ter­day, Army Lynx heli­copters and Roy­al Navy Sea King ASaC (Air­borne Sur­veil­lance and Con­trol) heli­copters. The air defence mis­sile sys­tems test­ing fol­lows sev­er­al months of engage­ment with the areas where they are due to be locat­ed dur­ing the Olympics.

This includ­ed exten­sive talks with local author­i­ties and landown­ers, brief­ing local MPs, dis­cus­sions with com­mu­ni­ty rep­re­sen­ta­tives, and, most recent­ly, deliv­er­ing leaflets to res­i­dents’ homes.

Defence Sec­re­tary Philip Ham­mond said:

“Whilst there is no report­ed threat to the Lon­don Olympics, the pub­lic expects that we have in place a range of mea­sures aimed at ensur­ing the safe­ty of this once-in-a-gen­er­a­tion event.

“As part of the com­pre­hen­sive secu­ri­ty plan being test­ed this week, ground-based air defence sys­tems are tem­porar­i­ly at loca­tions across Lon­don.

“We believe they will reas­sure the pub­lic and those attend­ing the Games, while pro­vid­ing a pow­er­ful deter­rent.

“Although a process of engage­ment has been under­way for four months, involv­ing com­mu­ni­ty lead­ers, local author­i­ties, local MPs and landown­ers, final deci­sions have yet to be tak­en.”

At a media facil­i­ty today at Black­heath, both the Rapi­er sys­tem and the small­er high veloc­i­ty mis­sile (HVM) sys­tem were on show, with mil­i­tary per­son­nel on hand to answer tech­ni­cal ques­tions in the same way as they have at meet­ings with res­i­dents held this week.

While a for­mal gov­ern­ment deci­sion on whether the equip­ment will be sit­ed dur­ing the Games them­selves is yet to be made, the pro­posed deploy­ment would see the two dif­fer­ent types of mis­sile sys­tems in use as part of a broad array of oth­er defence capa­bil­i­ties.

The pri­ma­ry form of air defence will be pro­vid­ed by RAF Typhoon air­craft which will form the out­er ring of defence out­side Lon­don. They will be assist­ed by Roy­al Navy Lynx and RAF Puma heli­copters armed with snipers, with ground-based air defence sys­tems form­ing the final line of defence.

The loca­tions where the test­ing of the ground-based air defence sys­tems is tak­ing place are as fol­lows:

  • Lex­ing­ton Build­ing, Fair­field Road, Bow, Tow­er Ham­lets — HVM
  • Fred Wigg Tow­er, Mon­tague Road Estate, Waltham For­est — HVM
  • Black­heath Com­mon, Black­heath (Lewisham/Greenwich) — Rapi­er
  • William Girling Reser­voir, Lea Val­ley Reser­voir Chain, Enfield — Rapi­er
  • Oxleas Mead­ow, Shoot­ers Hill, Greenwich/Woolwich — Rapi­er
  • Barn Hill, Nether­house Farm, Epping For­est — Rapi­er.

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Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK