RAF Typhoon fighters have arrived at RAF Northolt to take part in a major military exercise.
May 2: RAF Typhoon fighters arrived at RAF Northolt today to take part in a major military exercise to test security for the forthcoming Olympic Games.
The arrival of the jets – which heralds the first time fighter planes have been stationed at RAF Northolt since the Second World War – marks the start of specialist training which will result in increased flying activity over London and the Home Counties.
Codenamed Exercise Olympic Guardian, the eight-day exercise will put airmen, soldiers and sailors through their paces in the skies over the south east. The exercise runs until May 10 and it is likely that people will notice an increase in highly visible air activity at peak times (particularly on May 5/6).
The exercise integrates the additional forces being used to ensure the safety of the Olympics – these include RAF Puma aircraft – together with Royal Navy and Army Lynx helicopters – carrying teams of RAF Regiment snipers to intercept aircraft in restricted airspace, and airborne surveillance aircraft including RAF E-3D Sentry and Royal Navy Sea King ASACS (Airborne Surveillance and Control System).
On the ground, the RAF is providing additional mobile ground radar systems (Type 101 radar), while the Army is deploying air observers, High Velocity Missile (HVM) and Rapier missile systems, which also provide radar detection capability, to provide additional layers of radar coverage. A final decision on the deployment of these capabilities has yet to be taken by the Government.
Secretary of State for Defence, Phillip Hammond, said: “Whilst there is no specific threat to the Games, we have to be ready to assist in delivering a safe and secure Olympics for all to enjoy. The fact that our state-of-the-art Typhoon’s will be stationed at RAF Northolt underlines the commitment of the Ministry of Defence and our Armed Forces to keeping the public safe at a time when the world will be watching us.”
Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, Air Component Commander for Olympics Air Security said: “As we undertake this essential training, there will be a visible and audible presence of RAF Typhoon and military helicopters operating above Greater London and the Home Counties. There will also be flights occurring throughout the exercise period, to allow pilots and other forces to become familiar with operating in the London and Home Counties airspace. We have sought to limit the amount of flying to the minimum required to ensure that our Forces are ready for their important role delivering air security for the Olympics, balancing this against the need for us to reduce disturbance to a minimum. But we hope that people will understand the need for this very important training, and we thank them for their continued strong support.”
The exercise will test the procedures military aircrews will use to intercept and communicate with aircraft breaching the restricted airspace during the Olympic Games, and the actions pilots must take in response. Pilots entering the restricted airspace can expect to be intercepted by Typhoon fighters, or military helicopters.