Olympic missiles 'based on apartment roof''
30 April 2012
The Ministry of Defence may base an air defence missile system on the roof of an apartment building in East London in order to defend the Olympics from a terrorist attack, it has been revealed.
Residents of the Lexington Building in Bow, East London, have complained at MoD plans to base Starstreak surface-to-air missile systems on the roof of one of their buildings.
The missiles will be moved into place this week ahead of a major Olympic Security training exercise, set to run from 2-10 May. Afterwards the MoD will decide whether or not it is necessary to deploy anti-air missiles as part of its contribution to Olympic security at all.
Until the decision is made, the ministry will continue evaluating sites throughout London where it may deploy a combination of Rapier and Starstreak missile batteries for up to two months during the Olympic and Paralympic Games.
The Starstreak missiles on the Lexington building will be controlled 24 hours a day by 10 unarmed soldiers, with security support provided by armed police, according to an MoD leaflet sent to residents.
The site is said to have been selected because it offers "an excellent view of the surrounding area and the entire sky above the Olympic Park".
Some of the flats' 700 residents have expressed concern, however, that the missiles may make them a target for terrorists.
"People here are very worried. It may put us in the spotlight for some bad people," Neil Midgley, 43, told The Sun.
"If the MoD goes ahead after this week's tests we'll have two months of soldiers and surface-to-air missiles 24/7 on our roof."
Resident Brian Whelan told The Telegraph: "I've looked these up and I don't think they're the kind of thing you can fire over a highly populated area like Tower Hamlets – think of the debris. …It's totally unsuitable."
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said "As announced before Christmas, ground-based air defence systems could be deployed as part of a multi-layered air security plan for the Olympics, including fast jets and helicopters, which will protect the skies over London during the Games.
"Based on military advice, we have identified a number of sites and, alongside colleagues from the Metropolitan police, are talking to local authorities and relevant landowners to help minimise the impact of any temporary deployments.
"As part of our ongoing planning, we can confirm site evaluations have taken place. However, no final decision on whether or not to deploy ground based air defence systems for the games has been taken."