Aircraft flouting Olympic airspace restrictions face being shot down

 

Aircraft that fail to comply with procedures within a restricted airspace zone around the Olympic site in London could be subject to “lethal force” from the military, it was revealed today.

RAF Typhoon fast jets and RAF Puma helicopters with snipers armed with hi-tech rifles will be among the military aircraft patrolling the restricted zone which comes into force from tomorrow.

Intercepted aircraft will be expected to comply with the directions of the military aircraft.

"As a last resort, we will have lethal force as an option," said Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, the Olympics air security commander.

Asked who would give the order for lethal force to be used, AVM Atha said: "The highest level of Government makes that decision."

He said taking lethal action would be a "worst-case scenario" and that a best-case scenario would be to intercept and gain knowledge of the seriousness of the situation away from the built-up area of London.

AVM Atha was speaking at RAF Northolt in west London where some of the aircraft that will help patrol the restricted area were on display.

The restricted zone, in operation from midnight tonight to August 15, comprises a small inner zone covering central London and the Olympic site in Stratford, east London, and a large zone covering a swathe of south-east England.

The restricted zones are designed for general aviation which includes light aircraft, gliders and balloons. No commercial flights will be affected.

There will also be restrictions at the Olympic sailing venue at Weymouth in Dorset from tomorrow until September 8.

The air security plan includes:

:: RAF Typhoon fast jets based at Northolt;

:: RAF Puma helicopters with sniper teams, based at Ilford in east London;

:: Army Rapier and Starstreak ground-based air defence systems at six London sites;

:: Royal Navy Sea King helicopters based at Northolt;

:: Helicopter carrier HMS Ocean, the Navy's largest ship, which will be on the River Thames in London as a base for helicopter operations as well as accommodation for personnel.

At Northolt today, a Home Office spokesman said that for the Olympics "we are planning on a terrorist threat environment that is severe".

He added that it was better to be at the severe level in case the threat level needed to be increased.

But he went on: "We are not suggesting that there is any particular threat or risk to the Games that we know about."

The Civil Aviation Authority has written to all private pilots and distributed more than 60,000 leaflets to warn about the restrictions.

Under the plan, general aviation will not be allowed in the inner zone, although passenger planes heading for Heathrow and London City Airports will not be affected.

Private pilots wanting to fly in the larger restricted zone will have to file a flight plan and comply with Ministry of Defence instructions.

Details of how the Typhoon and the military helicopters will act if they are forced to intercept aircraft were released today.

Aircraft intercepted will have to rock their wings, follow the military aircraft and turn away from London.

Flares and lasers could be fired by the military aircraft, then, as a last resort, if an aircraft fails to comply with the directions of the military aircraft, it may be considered to be a threat to security, which may result in the use of lethal force.

Civil Aviation Authority airspace policy assistant director Phil Roberts said today that there has been a good response from the general aviation community to the plan.

"We shall be monitoring it over the weekend to see how it's going. We have made it clear that we are prepared to suspend pilots' licences in certain circumstances."

A smaller set of airspace restrictions will be put in place from August 16 to September 12 for the Paralympics.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond said: "Whilst there is no reported threat to the London Olympics, the public expects that we put in place a range of measures aimed at ensuring the safety and security of this once-in-a-generation event.

"I am pleased to be able to confirm that the equipment necessary to operate our comprehensive, layered air security plan is now in place.

"I believe this will provide reassurance to residents of, and visitors to, London, and a powerful deterrent.

"There are now 17,000 military personnel involved in the Olympic security effort, every one of whom will play a part in ensuring the Games go smoothly and are the national sporting celebration they should be. They deserve everyone's gratitude."

The MoD said HMS Ocean is due to pass through the Thames Barrier and arrive at Greenwich in south east London at around 9pm tonight.

The mobilisation of volunteer reservists in support of the Olympics is also under way.

PA

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Arts and Entertainment
Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese and DiCaprio, at an awards show in 2010
filmsDe Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
News
i100
News
In this photo illustration a school student eats a hamburger as part of his lunch which was brought from a fast food shop near his school, on October 5, 2005 in London, England. The British government has announced plans to remove junk food from school lunches. From September 2006, food that is high in fat, sugar or salt will be banned from meals and removed from vending machines in schools across England. The move comes in response to a campaign by celebrity TV chef Jamie Oliver to improve school meals.
science
Sport
England captain Wayne Rooney during training
FOOTBALLNew captain vows side will deliver against Norway for small crowd
Life and Style
Red or dead: An actor portrays Hungarian countess Elizabeth Báthory, rumoured to have bathed in blood to keep youthful
health
News
peopleJustin Bieber charged with assault and dangerous driving after crashing quad bike into a minivan
News
peopleHis band Survivor was due to resume touring this month
News
people'It can last and it's terrifying'
Life and Style
fashionModel of the moment shoots for first time with catwalk veteran
Sport
Radamel Falcao poses with his United shirt
FOOTBALLRadamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant in Colombia to Manchester United's star signing
Life and Style
fashionAngelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Science Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Science Teacher - Full Time - Lo...

Maths Teacher

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Randstad Education is looking for a Seco...

General Cover Teacher

£120 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking f...

Primary Year 5 Teacher - Lambeth - September 2014

£117 - £157 per day + Competitive London rates based on experience: Randstad E...

Day In a Page

Chief inspector of GPs: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

Steve Field: ‘Most doctors don’t really know what bad practice can be like for patients’

The man charged with inspecting doctors explains why he may not be welcome in every surgery
Stolen youth: Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing

Stolen youth

Younger blood can reverse many of the effects of ageing
Bob Willoughby: Hollywood's first behind the scenes photographer

Bob Willoughby: The reel deal

He was the photographer who brought documentary photojournalism to Hollywood, changing the way film stars would be portrayed for ever
Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Hollywood heavyweights produce world's most expensive corporate video - for Macau casino

Scorsese in the director's chair with De Niro, DiCaprio and Pitt to star
Angelina Jolie's wedding dress: made by Versace, designed by her children

Made by Versace, designed by her children

Angelina Jolie's wedding dressed revealed
Anyone for pulled chicken?

Pulling chicks

Pulled pork has gone from being a US barbecue secret to a regular on supermarket shelves. Now KFC is trying to tempt us with a chicken version
9 best steam generator irons

9 best steam generator irons

To get through your ironing as swiftly as possible, invest in one of these efficient gadgets
England v Norway: Wayne Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

Rooney admits England must ‘put on a show’ to regain faith

New captain vows side will deliver for small Wembley crowd
‘We knew he was something special:’ Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing

‘We knew he was something special’

Radamel Falcao's journey from teenage debutant to Manchester United's star signing
'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes': US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food served at diplomatic dinners

'I’ll tell you what I would not serve - lamb and potatoes'

US ambassador hits out at stodgy British food
Radio Times female powerlist: A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

A 'revolution' in TV gender roles

Inside the Radio Times female powerlist
Endgame: James Frey's literary treasure hunt

James Frey's literary treasure hunt

Riddling trilogy could net you $3m
Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

Fitbit: Because the tingle feels so good

What David Sedaris learnt about the world from his fitness tracker
Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Saudis risk new Muslim division with proposal to move Mohamed’s tomb

Second-holiest site in Islam attracts millions of pilgrims each year
Alexander Fury: The designer names to look for at fashion week this season

The big names to look for this fashion week

This week, designers begin to show their spring 2015 collections in New York