You can’t fail to have heard the RAF Typhoon interceptors flying above us on Saturday. This is all part of an Olympic air security exercise that will be taking place between now and May 10. The flight last night was the only intended late night exercise. Below is the press release that was issued by the Ministry of Defence on April 27:
“During this summer’s Olympic and Paralympic Games, UK Armed Forces will be playing a key role assisting the police and other Government departments to ensure these internationally important events are safe and secure. There is no specific threat to the Games, but we have to be ready.
As part of this contribution, the Ministry of Defence will bolster its existing arrangements for ensuring the security of UK airspace. RAF Typhoon interceptors are always on alert for this purpose, but during the Games a number of these aircraft will be deployed to RAF Northolt, west London, and helicopters from the Royal Navy, Army and Royal Air Force will operate from several sites in and around London.
In preparation for their important role, a series of exercises has been taking place, bringing together all of the military assets such as helicopters, fighters, ground-based radar systems and air defence missile systems. During early May, this training will culminate with a large military exercise in London and the Home Counties. Codenamed Exercise Olympic Guardian, it will be an important opportunity before the start of the Games for Defence forces to rehearse and ensure they are operationally ready.
The exercise will commence on 2 May and complete on 10 May, spanning the May Bank Holiday weekend. During this weekend 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.
Both air and ground based elements will be involved in training exercises designed to test the Defence response to an unknown aircraft entering the restricted airspace which will be established in order to ensure that the Games are safe and secure. There will be a number of such training ‘serials’ each day, though the amount of flying has been reduced to the absolute minimum necessary to ensure that our forces are ready for their important role.
RAF Typhoon, RAF Puma, Royal Navy and Army Lynx and target aircraft, will fly between 4,000ft and 2,000ft above ground level for the majority of the Exercise to de-conflict with existing civilian air movements over London; however, military aircraft will occasionally operate at 1,000ft above ground level and, for a very brief period on three occasion, will descend to 500ft to achieve the necessary training objectives. It is recognised that military aircraft operating at this level could cause concern to the general public; therefore, time spent at the lowest levels will be minimised. However, members of the public should be reassured that safety remains are utmost priority, and our pilots and aircrew are well-trained and experienced in these sorts of operations.
We recognise that this activity may cause a disturbance. We have taken steps to ensure that flying activity takes place at times that keep this disturbance to a minimum. On current planning, one of the Typhoon training serials to be undertaken on 5 May is scheduled for the late evening, but will finish no later than 2230hrs. We regret any disturbance caused, but we hope that the public will understand why this important training has to take place.”