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
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Standing the test of time: Michael J Fox and Christopher Lloyd in 'Back to the Future'
filmReview: A week late, Secret Cinema arrives as interactive screening goes Back to the Future
News
Chancellor George Osborne, along with the Prime Minister, have been 'complacently claiming the economy is now fixed', according to shadow Chancellor Ed Balls
i100... which is awkward, because he is their boss, after all
Travel
travel
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
filmBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
Arts and Entertainment
Preparations begin for Edinburgh Festival 2014
Edinburgh festivalAll the best shows to see at Edinburgh this year
News
i100
News
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleBenidorm, actor was just 68
Environment
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Arts and Entertainment
arts + ents
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

Renewable Energy Construction Manager

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Senior Wind Energy Due Diligence Project Manager

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Offshore Wind Project Engineer

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Subsea Proposals Engineer

£50000 - £55000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: The Green Recruitmen...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices