- Tower Hamlets
A battery of missile defence systems temporarily stationed at Blackheath have been put on full public display as part of a 9 day series of security exercises in preparation for the start of the Olympic Games. Members of the military made themselves available to answer questions from the press and public and send out the clearest message that the forthcoming Olympic Games will be protected from any threat, however extreme and devastating.
Defence systems are to be sited at six locations across London for the games including at the Lexington Building in Tower Hamlets, the Fred Wigg Tower in Waltham Forest and Barn Hill, Epping Forest.
Speaking to our reporter Delores William, Major David Joyce from 16 Artillery regiment explained the siting of missiles on Blackheath “was not set in stone” and a final decision on the placement of the defences would come after the exercises. He added that the highly visible defences “are designed as a deterrent as they are not aware of any specific threats.”
The location on Blackheath Common was chosen for its strategic importance: it is a wide open space and east London, where the games are to be held, sits in a geographical bowl.
The weapons on display are Rapier missiles and High Velocity missiles (HVMs) one element to a package of defences including StarStreaker missiles – to be situated on top of buildings such as the Lexington building in Bow – and RAF Typhoon aircraft supported by Royal Navy Lynx and RAF Puma helicopters armed with snipers.
The announcement of these defence systems has been met with some resistance by people living close to the sites, such as the widly reported case of a Bow resident taking legal action against his housing managment for allowing missiles to be stationed on top of his housing block.
Defence secretary Phillip Hammond said in a statement: “We believe they will reassure the public and those attending the Games, while providing a powerful deterrent.”
Reporting by Delores William and research by Simon Newton.