Philip Hammond (Secretary of State, Transport; Runnymede and Weybridge, Conservative)
In December 2011, I informed the House about the military contribution that was being planned in support of the police-led safety and security operation being put in place for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic games. I can now confirm that, following further planning and exercising, the Government have agreed to the deployment of ground-based air defence (GBAD) systems as part of this contribution.
The deployment will consist of four Rapier and two high-velocity missile (HVM) systems which will form part of an integrated and multi-layered air security plan that includes Typhoon aircraft (at RAF Northolt) and helicopters (at Ilford TA centre and from HMS Ocean) as well as a network of air observers and radars. This plan provides the most effective capabilities to deliver a safe and secure airspace during the games.
Both the Rapier and HVM systems were deployed to six carefully selected sites for the live military exercise, Ex Olympic Guardian, which took place between 2 and
The Government recognised at the outset that the deployment of military equipment and personnel across London could be unsettling. The deployment of military assets, including GBAD, is a temporary measure to provide security over the period of the games. Since December, the Ministry of Defence (MOD), with the Metropolitan police, has been engaging local communities, landowners, relevant council leaders and Members of Parliament to allay concerns, provide reassurance about these deployments and, as far as possible, take measures to minimise the local impact. The MOD remains committed to this engagement and is pleased that the majority of the public recognise and support our important contribution to keeping the games, London and the UK as secure as we can. A small number of activists object to the deployment of these defensive measures and a legal challenge to the Government’s decision to deploy GBAD has been initiated. The MOD will defend these proceedings vigorously and is confident of defeating them.
The coming weeks will also see the return of HMS Ocean to the Thames, Typhoon aircraft to RAF Northolt and helicopters to Ilford TA centre. The mobilisation of volunteer reservists in support of the Olympics will also begin in earnest. The defence contribution to the wider police-led safety and security operation is on a similar scale to that of other recent Olympic games. It is a balanced and proportionate measure which will deter would-be aggressors and reassure domestic and international audiences that we are ready to play our role in ensuring a safe, secure and enjoyable 2012 Olympics.