Missiles over London: a new Olympic event

Ground Based Air Defence, High Velocity Missile
MOD information: you have missiles!
MOD information: you have missiles! (Image of leaflet via Brian Whelan)

Today Brian Whelan woke up to find information from the Ministry of Defence waiting by his letter box.


The leaflet informed him that during the London 2012 Olympic games the army will be putting missiles on the roof of his building and there will be soldiers on duty there 24 hours a day. He was not asked about this in advance, or given a choice, simply informed that his building was the best place to site these missiles. From what Brian said it might not be the safest place for these missiles.




Even worse, it seems that there may already be military equipment in the building.


The missiles to be used are Ground Based Air Defence, High Velocity Missile (HVM) of the type shown in the picture below.


Ground Based Air Defence, High Velocity Missile
GBAD HVM missiles of the type to be installed on Brian's roof. (Image of leaflet via Brian Whelan)

Leaving aside the lack of consultation about this and the failure to ask the residents, we get to the question of what good these missiles could actually do. Presumably these missiles are to guard against aircraft piloted or hijacked by terrorists which might be flown into Olympic venues 9/11 style. In the event that such an aircraft was identified, unless it was shot down over open ground the wreckage will fall directly onto London streets and buildings. These hardly look like long range missiles; they look like the target must be in visual range. (Correct me if I am wrong here.) We knew from previous announcements that there would be missiles on board ships in the Thames, but I certainly didn’t realise that there would be more dotted around London. I expected the missiles that had been mentioned to be of the sort that could be fired at a plane a bit further away where plummeting debris might not have such an awful effect. Use of these missiles to bring down a hijacked jet would simply move the devastation from the intended target to somewhere else in London. Then we must ask how the army will identify a target. What is the criteria? A plane that has wandered off course? A passenger jet that doesn’t answer a challenge by radio in time? A microlight with no radio? A news helicopter? The scope for mistakes here is huge and the resulting carnage would be awful. In my opinion, if the MOD intend these missiles to be used at all then they are incredibly stupid and thoughtless. If they are not intended to be use then they are highly dangerous security theatre with a massive scope to go wrong.

I have been alerted by Games Monitor to information from the Blackheath Society last month. They write:

Blackheath has been awash with rumours that air defence missiles will be placed on the Heath to protect the capital during the Olympics.
To the credit of our Lewisham Councillors, security services personnel were brought in to give a briefing to the Blackheath Assembly on 13 March.

Blackheath is one of six sites being evaluated for a possible missile defence system for the duration of the Olympics and some radar equipment was tested on the Heath last week.

We understand that either all six will be chosen, or none. The Blackheath site is opposite Holly Hedge House, the police base for the Olympics. Oxleas Wood is another possible site.

There is already opposition to the missile deployment at Oxleas Wood, and their Facebook group has more information: No Missiles in Oxleas Woods!

Katie Draper is another person who has been informed today that there will be missiles sited on top of her home.



Soldiers on the streets of London

In reaction to the news that there would be 14,000 troops deployed in London during the Olympics as security personnel, I filed a Freedom Of Information request to find out whether these troops would be armed and what powers they would have. I recieved a reply from the Home Office so here it is.

Firearms use by military personnel at the 2012 Olympics

Freedom of Information (FOI) Request: Olympic safety and security

Military personnel deployed as security staff to assist the Police or for logistical support will not routinely carry firearms and firearms will not be available to military personnel deployed as Security staff to assist the Police or to provide logistical support. Because of this, the question about ammunition is not applicable.

Military personnel do not have any powers of arrest above and beyond those of an ordinary citizen under common law. The MOD has tried and tested arrangements in place for providing military support to the Police and other civil authorities, which means it is possible that military personnel providing assistance to the Police may be deployed outside of areas where Olympic events take place.

It is interesting to note that the soldiers will not be armed and will not even have powers of arrest beyond those of the ordinary citizen. I am also alarmed to see that soldiers may be used outside of areas of London where the Olympic games are being held.

Related articles

A Latent Existence | Olympic threat to freedom and liberty

A Latent Existence | Olympic Opulence: Bread and circuses without the bread

Telegraph: Missiles stationed on residential roof for Olympics

BBC: London 2012: Missiles may be placed at residential flats


Author: Latentexistence

The world is broken and I can't fix it because I am broken. I can, however, rant about it all and this is where I do that when I can get my thoughts together. Most of the time you'll find my words on Twitter rather than here though. I sometimes write for Where's The Benefit too.

9 thoughts on “Missiles over London: a new Olympic event”

  1. I think there’s a bigger picture. A hijacked jet aimed at a stadium full of people can’t be stopped without cost elsewhere unless shot down outside London. Armed forces are. covering both options.

  2. the russians are coming to invade that is why we need moar anti-air missiles situated everywhere!!!!!!!!!

  3. Perhaps this type of anti aircraft missile defence perhaps will be aimed more towards small aircrafts and helicopters where they come from within London. That would make more sense to me.

  4. Re: “I am also alarmed to see that soldiers may be used outside of areas of London where the Olympic games are being held.”, in reference to the FOI reply stating “it is possible that military personnel providing assistance to the Police may be deployed outside of areas where Olympic events take place.”

    That’s always true, it’s not an Olympics thing. The arrangements for the army providing support to the police could be used anywhere, any time. They’re the arrangements that were used to allow the SAS to storm the Iranian embassy in 1980.

  5. I have a few questions, does the person who posted about the missiles going on top of his building live in the tower that is shut? or does he live in a different one? Does he own the complex or is he a tenant? I only ask because if he is a tenant he should take it up with his landlord, and the fact that a tower is unoccupied (?) makes it an ideal location.

    Considering how close the Olympic venue is to central London, and the various routes in and out of the London airports, how could you site missiles further away and over sparsely occupied land? What do you do about a light aircraft or helicopter, packed with HME, flying at low level for an Olympic venue? What do you do about an airliner that only departs from its flightplan at the last minute? The HVM has no explosive warhead as such, a maximum range of 5000m and a ceiling of 1000m, If there is an attack using hijacked aircraft what are the choices? 80,000 in the Olympic stadium, or?

    I have to wonder why you’re alarmed at forces personnel being used for security, they have been used in similar capacities for years, why should it suddenly be alarming now? I think you need to reread, “…which means it is possible that military personnel providing assistance
    to the Police may be deployed outside of areas where Olympic events take
    place.” I think this indicates that the troops will be providing perimeter security at Olympic locations. I did similar things during my 17 years in the armed forces, so did troops before me, and they still do now.

    1. What kidnapped airliner? What helicopter or light aircraft packed to the gunnels with explosives and flying at low-level towards a stadium of 80,000? In your dreams mate. For your information, there is no Taliban Air-force. no Al-Queda fighter jets, and no need whatsoever for short-range fire-and-regret missile systems on anyone’s roof you jobs-worth.
      Get a grip.

  6. I thnk you are just out to make a name for yourself!  You actually live in what will be one of the safest buildings in London.  If the army want to place some soldiers at the top of my place with a view to shooting some terrorists, you know what?  I would offer them breakfast every morning.

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