UK — Typhoon jets arrive at RAF Northolt for Olympics role

Typhoon fight­er jets arrived at RAF Northolt today to take part in a major mil­i­tary exer­cise to test secu­ri­ty for the forth­com­ing Lon­don Olympic Games.

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An RAF Typhoon touch­es down at RAF Northolt, West Lon­don, today, 2 May 2012, ahead of an Olympics air secu­ri­ty exer­cise [Pic­ture: Senior Air­craft­man Steve Buck­ley, Crown Copyright/MOD 2012]
Source: Min­istry of Defence, UK
Click to enlarge

This is the first time fight­er planes have been sta­tioned at RAF Northolt since the Sec­ond World War.

The jets’ arrival marks the start of spe­cial­ist train­ing which will result in increased fly­ing activ­i­ty over Lon­don and the Home Coun­ties.

Code­named Olympic Guardian, the nine-day exer­cise will put air­men, sol­diers and sailors through their paces in the skies over the South East. The exer­cise runs from 2 to 10 May, and it is like­ly that peo­ple will notice an increase in high­ly vis­i­ble air activ­i­ty (par­tic­u­lar­ly on 5 and 6 May).

The exer­cise will test the pro­ce­dures mil­i­tary air­crews will use to inter­cept and com­mu­ni­cate with air­craft breach­ing restrict­ed air­space dur­ing the Olympics, and the actions they must take in response. Pilots enter­ing restrict­ed air­space can expect to be inter­cept­ed by Typhoon fight­ers or mil­i­tary heli­copters.

The air secu­ri­ty plan for the Olympic Games builds on the Roy­al Air Force’s exist­ing defence of UK air­space, which includes round-the-clock radar sur­veil­lance and Typhoon fight­ers held at high readi­ness every day of the year.

The exer­cise inte­grates the addi­tion­al forces being used to ensure the safe­ty of the Olympics, as part of the Min­istry of Defence’s role to ensure a safe and secure Games this sum­mer.

These include:

  • the Typhoon fight­ers which arrived at RAF Northolt today
  • RAF Puma air­craft — togeth­er with Roy­al Navy and Army Lynx heli­copters — car­ry­ing teams of RAF Reg­i­ment snipers to inter­cept air­craft in restrict­ed air­space, and
  • air­borne sur­veil­lance air­craft includ­ing RAF E-3D Sen­try air­craft and Roy­al Navy Sea King ASaC (Air­borne Sur­veil­lance and Con­trol) heli­copters.

On the ground, the RAF is pro­vid­ing addi­tion­al mobile ground radar sys­tems (Type 101 radar), while the Army is deploy­ing air observers and high veloc­i­ty and Rapi­er mis­sile sys­tems, which also pro­vide radar detec­tion capa­bil­i­ty, to pro­vide addi­tion­al lay­ers of radar cov­er­age. A final deci­sion on the deploy­ment of these capa­bil­i­ties has yet to be tak­en by the Gov­ern­ment.

The Sec­re­tary of State for Defence, Philip Ham­mond, said:

“Whilst there is no spe­cif­ic threat to the Games, we have to be ready to assist in deliv­er­ing a safe and secure Olympics for all to enjoy.

“The fact that our state-of-the-art Typhoons will be sta­tioned at RAF Northolt under­lines the com­mit­ment of the Min­istry of Defence and our Armed Forces to keep­ing the pub­lic safe at a time when the world will be watch­ing us.”

Air Vice-Mar­shal Stu­art Atha, Air Com­po­nent Com­man­der for Olympics Air Secu­ri­ty, said:

“As we under­take this essen­tial train­ing, there will be a vis­i­ble and audi­ble pres­ence of RAF Typhoon and mil­i­tary heli­copters oper­at­ing above Greater Lon­don and the Home Coun­ties. There will also be flights occur­ring through­out the exer­cise peri­od to allow pilots and oth­er forces to become famil­iar with oper­at­ing in the Lon­don and Home Coun­ties air­space.

“We have sought to lim­it the amount of fly­ing to the min­i­mum required to ensure that our Forces are ready for their impor­tant role deliv­er­ing air secu­ri­ty for the Olympics, bal­anc­ing this against the need for us to reduce dis­tur­bance to a min­i­mum. But we hope that peo­ple will under­stand the need for this very impor­tant train­ing, and we thank them for their con­tin­ued strong sup­port.”

Press release
Min­istry of Defence, UK