News story

099/2012 - Defence assets in place as Olympic air security operations get under way

Armed Forces equipment which will support the security effort for the London 2012 Olympic Games has been deployed during the course of this week – with the operation continuing into the weekend.

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Today (Friday) will see the arrival of HMS Ocean in the River Thames and tomorrow (Saturday) the introduction of new airspace restrictions which will help safeguard the security of the Games.

As part of the Armed Forces’ wide-ranging support to the civilian and police-led Olympics security effort, the assets on standby to enforce new air movement restrictions over London – including Typhoon fast jets - will be fully in place by the weekend when the new temporary restrictions come into force.

The deployment of this kit and associated personnel follows a military exercise – “Olympic Guardian” - in early May during which unarmed equipment was put into place for a period of nine days over which the air security plan was tested.

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

Whilst there is no reported threat to the London Olympics, the public expects that we put in place a range of measures aimed at ensuring the safety and security of this once-in-a-generation event. I am pleased to be able to confirm that the equipment necessary to operate our comprehensive, layered air security plan is now in place. I believe this will provide reassurance to residents of, and visitors to, London and a powerful deterrent.

There are now 17,000 military personnel involved in the Olympic security effort, every one of whom will play a part in ensuring the Games go smoothly and are the national sporting celebration they should be. They deserve everyone’s gratitude.

So far this week, Typhoon fast jets and Royal Navy helicopters have arrived at RAF Northolt, Puma helicopters at Ilford, the installation of Rapier ground based air defence systems at four sites in and around London has taken place alongside the arrival of Starstreak High Velocity Missile at two sites in London.

Helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, the Royal Navy’s largest ship, will provide maritime command and control, accommodation, as well as helicopter and small boat basing. It is due to pass through the Thames Barrier at around 8pm and arrive at Greenwich, where it will moor, by around 9pm.

The mobilisation of volunteer reservists in support of the Olympics is also under way.

Notes to editors

  • Yesterday, the Defence Secretary laid a Written Ministerial Statement in the House of Commons which provided an update on military support to the Olympic security effort. Details or this are available at or on request from the MOD Press Office.

  • The UK Government has made the delivery of a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games its paramount objective. As a result the Government has indicated that airspace restrictions will be placed around all Games venues. The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA), National Air Traffic Service (NATS) and the MOD are working with airspace users to tell them about the restrictions and how people can continue to use UK airspace during the Olympics. More information about the restrictions, and the supporting material that pilots will need to be able to fly safely during that time, can be found on the following website:

  • For more information, contact MOD press office, Operations Desk, on 0207 218 9707.

Published 13 July 2012