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London 2012: Military exercise to prepare for potential Olympics threat

10:30 02 May 2012

A RAF Puma helicopter (foreground): two of the models will be based in Ilford throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Credit: UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

A RAF Puma helicopter (foreground): two of the models will be based in Ilford throughout the Olympic and Paralympic Games (Credit: UK MoD/Crown Copyright)

Archant

The armed forces have today begun a massive training exercise across London to test their responses to potential threats during the Olympic Games.

East London residents will today get a taste of the security that will surround this summer’s Olympic Games.

All three arms of the military will be taking part in the eight-day exercise called Olympic Guardian which is designed to test their response to potential threats that could arise during the Olympics.

Although the Ministry of Defence has said there is no specific threat to the Games, it must nevertheless be ready.

As part of the exercise, the Army, Navy and Air Force will be deploying helicopters, jet fighters, warships, ground-based radar systems and surface-to-air missiles to allow the servicemen and women operating them to become familiar with working in the area.

While some residents in the area will see RAF Puma helicopters take to the skies in test flights others will see soldiers manning batteries of Surface-to-Air missiles on roof tops.

Although a final decision on deploying the missiles will be made at the end of the exercise, May 10, some residents have already expressed concerns that they could become targets.

Two RAF Puma helicopters will police the airspace around the Olympic Park in Stratford as they train to guard against terrorist threats and “unauthorised flights”. The aircraft have already been taking part in familiarisation flights from their Ilford base.

The helicopters, which are normally based at RAF Benson in Oxfordshire, will be operating from the Territorial Army base in Ilford from July 12 until the end of the Games.

Many residents in the area will see and hear the exercise during the May Bank Holiday weekend as the RAF’s Typhoon jets, RAF Pumas, Army and Royal Navy Lynx helicopters fly between 2,000ft and 4,000ft above ground so as not to interfere with civilian flights.

In a linked development, soldiers from the Woolwich based 2nd Battalion The Princess of Wales’s Royal Regiment will be taking part in a test event at the Olympic Stadium during the weekend to help with venue security.

During the Games there will be a total of 13,500 military personnel deployed to augment the 12,500 police officers who will be working with the Metropolitan Police.

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