Citizens of London, remain calm: this is an exercise

It’s about to get even busier in the skies over London, with a major (well, by UK standards at least) exercise to test Olympic security plans to be conducted from 2-10 May.

Dubbed “Olympic Guardian”, the activity will include operations with a pair of Eurofighter Typhoon interceptors from the Royal Air Force’s Northolt base on the western edge of the capital. Their arrival from RAF Coninsgby should certainly turn a few heads on the A40, as will subsequent demonstrations of the type’s quick reaction alert role (picture courtesy of BAE Systems).


Typhoon break 560.jpg“Most of the exercise will be played out in the public domain and the military aspects of it will result in a visible presence of armed forces personnel, ships and aircraft,” the Ministry of Defence says.

Other kit likely to be seen in the skies above London and the home counties will include Royal Navy Westland Sea King 7 airborne surveillance and control system and RAF Eurocopter Puma transport helicopters, operating from Ilford. RN Lynx will also be flying from the deck of the helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, which will be alongside in Greenwich for the duration.

But spotters and shoppers shouldn’t get too excited, as the MoD notes that “there will be minimal low flying by various military aircraft” and that “this will be carried out at times which keep the disturbance to the minimum possible”.

The security implications of hosting the Olympics have recently received major press coverage in the UK, after a pair of Typhoons rudely broke the silence during a cross-country supersonic dash to intercept a civilian helicopter a couple of weeks ago. Sonic booms are something that people simply aren’t accustomed to hearing these days.

Opposition has also been voiced by some local residents faced with the prospect of having British Army Starstreak surface-to-air missile launchers temporarily located on the roof of their tower block near the Olympic stadium. I’m pretty sure though that people living in the aptly-named Shooters Hill can’t have been surprised that Rapier missile batteries will be in their vicinity this week.


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