Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Olympics 2012: Blackheath Missile Crisis etc

RAF snipers will hover above Olympic sites in Lynx Mk7 helicopters

A reader reported seeing an armed military helicopter flying over our area last week. Possibly it was part of the MOD's evaluations to station Rapier surface-to-air missiles in one or more of six sites as part of the security measures for the Olympics. Two of the sites identified are on the heath itself and at Oxleas Woods (see BBC news).

The Blackheath Bugle has been closely following the story throughout March. The main concern as reported by the press is that local politicians were not consulted, but in reality the worry is that should short range missiles actually have to be deployed to bring down a hijacked aircraft, the plane(s) will fall in densely populated areas – possibly on us! Indeed, what better gift to a hijacker -on-a-suicide-mission can there be than the certain knowledge they will be shot down – after all, their target may not necessarily be the Olympic stadium.

The other concern is that official sources have stated the battery of missiles would be guarded by unarmed military personnel (thus presenting a possible target for attack themselves).

Meanwhile, during the Olympics the Royal Marines will be based on the Navy's largest vessel, HMS Ocean (a 'platform helicopter assault' ship) to be moored "just off Greenwich", and RAF heli-snipers will be deployed above East London and Greenwich, capable of "killing an enemy" more than a mile away (and over half a mile at night). Well, that'll put a stop to any rioting in Woolwich in August!

As of December 2011 the total number of armed forces expected to be involved in the security operation overall had increased to 41,700, pushing the security budget to over £1 billion (see The Telegraph). We can expect to see the armed forces patrolling in Greenwich too (7500 will be working as security guards checking visitors to Olympic venues), so...that'll be nice.

If the idea of ground-to-air missiles being stationed up the road (along with the build-up of military hardware and personnel in the area) does not phase you, and your feathers are not ruffled by the inevitable disruption to your daily transport routine, you may just find the prospect of the drone of helicopters coming and going and circling above us day and night may tip the balance. The Games are running from 27 July – 9 September, so if you don't have tickets and you aren't "getting involved" in any way, you only have around 125 days left to plan your escape.

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