Defence Secretary Observes Olympics Air Security Exercise
The Secretary of State for Defence, the Rt Hon Philip Hammond MP, took to the skies overYorkshiretoday to observe members of the Armed Forces training for their role providing air security for the Olympic Games.
Codenamed Taurus Mountain 2, the exercise tested the ability of the Army, Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force to respond to an airborne threat. RAF Typhoon interceptors and helicopters were scrambled to intercept and identify a suspicious aircraft, guided by controllers and observers based both in the air and on the ground.
The Defence Secretary observed the exercise from an RAF E-3D Sentry aircraft on a two-hour mission flying from RAF Waddington inLincolnshire. He then met some of the Armed Forces personnel who will be manning aircraft, radars and other equipment as part of Defence's contribution to the Home Office and Police-led security plan to enable a safe and secure Olympic and Paralympic Games later this year.
Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond MP, said:
“Exercises like this are designed to put our highly professional Armed Forces and their state-of-the-art equipment through their paces so they are prepared to play a key role alongside the civilian authorities in making sure we can all enjoy a trouble-free and secure Games this summer.
“Although there are no specific threats, the public should be reassured that air security around the Games is in safe hands. And what I have seen today, speaking to personnel both in the air and on the ground, underlines just that.”
The Air Security Plan is multi-layered and based on existing arrangements which are always in place to ensureUKairspace is protected. From bases across theUK, powerful ground-based radars will combine with sophisticated surveillance aircraft to provide a detailed picture of what is going on inUKairspace. Typhoon interceptors – which are always on alert around the clock throughout the year - are joined by sniper-carrying helicopters to provide a powerful system to intercept, identify and respond to any potential threat which might emerge.
Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha is the Air Component Commander, the senior RAF officer charged with delivering the Air Security Plan. He said:
“Of course, providing air security over theUKis something the RAF does every minute of the day, every day of the year. Today’s exercise, which sees us operating alongside both Army and Royal Navy colleagues and assets, allows us to develop our existing procedures to meet the particular requirements of the Olympics, and thus ensure that we play our part in delivering a safe and secure Games.”
Armed Forces units taking part in the exercise include:
Typhoon jets from RAF Coningsby,Lincolnshire.
Puma helicopters from RAF Benson, Oxfordshire, with snipers teams from the Royal Air Force Regiment at RAF Honington,Suffolk.
Royal Navy Lynx helicopters from RNAS Yeovilton,Somerset.
Royal Navy Sea King ASaC helicopters from RNAS Culdrose,Cornwall.
Sentry E-3D aircraft from RAF Waddington,Lincolnshire.
Air Surveillance and Control System (ground-based radar), from RAF Boulmer, Northumberland.
1 Air Control Centre (ground-based radar), from RAF Scampton,Lincolnshire.
Joint Ground-Based Air Defence (missile systems), of 16 Regiment Royal Artillery, from North Luffenham,Rutland.
Grob Tutor aircraft from RAF Leeming,North Yorkshire.