UK MoD to deploy missiles from rooftops to guard Olympics

29 April 2012 (Last Updated April 29th, 2012 18:30)

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering the deployment of surface-to-air missile batteries from the rooftops of residential flats in East London over the coming days to defend the 2012 Olympic Games against airborne terrorist attacks.

The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) is considering the deployment of surface-to-air missile batteries from the rooftops of residential flats in East London over the coming days to defend the 2012 Olympic Games against airborne terrorist attacks.

An MoD spokesman said, in accordance with earlier announcements, ground-based air defence systems could be deployed as part of a multilayered air security plan for the Olympics, including fast jets and helicopters, which will protect the skies over London during the Games.

"Based on military advice, we have identified a number of sites and, alongside colleagues from the Metropolitan Police, are talking to local authorities and relevant landowners to help minimise the impact of any temporary deployments," the spokesman added.

"As part of our ongoing planning, we can confirm site evaluations have taken place. However, no final decision on whether or not to deploy ground-based air defence systems for the Games has been taken."

According to the spokesman, less than ten locations have been selected to host missile batteries in areas around the Olympic Park and not all of them are residential buildings.

The missiles are capable of shooting down aircraft and can offset 'pop-up strikes' from helicopters and will be operated around the clock by ten unarmed soldiers, who might be guarded by armed police, according to the MoD.

The ministry has informed Bow Quarter complex residents in a leaflet that the Lexington Building Water Tower has been chosen for the High Velocity Missile (HVM) system deployment, as it offered "an excellent view of the surrounding area and the entire sky above the Olympic Park."

The military is planning to conduct a six-day trial of its ground-based air defence system for the Games, beginning on 2 May 2012.

Britain had previously confirmed the deployment of 13,500 troops on land, at sea and in the air to help protect the Olympics alongside police and security guards.

Typhoon fighter jets, helicopters, two warships and bomb disposal experts will also be put on duty as part of the security operation.