Missiles for London Olympic Security Ruffle Residents





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Published on May 3, 2012

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Ground to air missiles—which could bring down an attacking plane—are on show around London as part of the military's Olympic security testing. But some residents in east London are anxious -- and vocal -- about missiles in their vicinity.

In a security tour de force display, Britain's military put on a show of ground-to-surface missiles in the heart of London on Thursday.

The move was part of a week-long security exercise for the Olympic Games.

Rapier radar and missiles, and High Velocity Missiles (HVM) are placed on Blackheath, with the business district of Canary Wharf visible in the background.

There are five other sites around London where missiles will be placed to protect the Olympic Park in the summer.

Air Vice Marshall Stuart Atha says excercises like this are an important part of maintaining deployment capability.

[Stuart Atha, Air Vice Marshall]:
"The first reason for doing it is just to test our system. Just to see are we ready? Would we be ready in the unlikely event that we have to use them? So that's the first thing. But by demonstrating that we have a credible and ready system, we would hope that in that unlikely event that there is someone out there with a malign intent for the Olympics, they would think again."

The military is stressing that the missiles would only be launched in case of an extreme threat, such as a 9/11 type scenario.

One of the locations the High Velocity Missiles may be placed is on the tower of an upscale apartment development near the Olympic Park.

It is the first time such missiles have been deployed in London since the end of World War Two, shocking some residents at the Bow Quarter housing development.

One resident, Brian Whelan, has spoken out strongly against the plan and has consulted a lawyer over potentially blocking the move.

[Brian Whelan, Building Resident]:
"I couldn't imagine what it would be like to walk past armed police to get into my apartment and sleep at night knowing there's missiles above my head, in what is an old red brick match stick factory. So, you know, it wasn't built as a military location. It's an old building. It's been struck by lightning, part of the masonry is crumbling, so I am not sure it is suitable."

The Defence Ministry said in a leaflet sent to occupants on Saturday, that it had chosen the former water tower in the Bow Quarter complex because it offered "an excellent view of the surrounding area and the entire sky above the Olympic Park."

Since the outcry, the Ministry of Defence has sent a small team of people to talk to concerned residents.


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