Olympics: Missiles placed in London park

2012-05-03 22:11

London - British military chiefs said they hoped the deployment of surface-to-air missiles in a London park on Thursday would "allay people's fears" as the armed forces geared up for the 2012 Olympic Games.

The Rapier and smaller High-Velocity Missiles were deployed as part of Exercise Olympic Guardian, a nine-day training operation to test the response to a possible attack during the Games.

The missiles were shown off in Blackheath, southeast London, on high ground overlooking Greenwich Park, where the equestrian events will be held, and the steel-and-glass towers of the Canary Wharf financial services district.

The military hardware caught the attention of passing dog walkers on the common.

Colonel Jon Campbell, commander of the Joint Ground Based Air Defence, said: "We have done as much as we can to allay people's fears.

"The Rapier system has a world-class radar on it and is particularly good at picking up low and slow-moving objects in the sky.

"It means we're able to get the very best picture of what is happening in the skies of London."

The London Games run from July 27 to August 12.

Air Vice Marshal Stuart Atha added: "We want the focus to be on Usain Bolt this summer and not us.

"We're very proud to be part of this plan to deliver a safe and secure Olympics."

Blackheath Common - where the annual London Marathon begins - is one of four planned sites around London for Rapier deployment.

As part of the training exercise, Typhoon fighter jets are stationed near the capital, along with military helicopters and the amphibious assault ship HMS Ocean.

Meanwhile three sports test events got under way on Thursday: water polo and wheelchair tennis on the Olympic Park and Paralympic archery at the Royal Artillery Barracks.

The hockey competitions, featuring top international sides, were into their second day.

Read more on:    olympics 2012  |  security

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