Olympic Plan To Put Missiles On Block Of Flats

The army is planning to position soldiers and surface-to-air missiles on top of a block of flats to prevent any airborne terror threat during this summer's Olympic Games.

Residents of the block in Bow in east London received a leaflet on Saturday informing them up to 10 soldiers and police will be stationed at the building.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) leaflet says the missiles will only be fired as a last resort, according to journalist Brian Whelan, one of the 700 residents of the block.

He said: "They are going to have a test run next week, putting high velocity missiles on the roof just above our apartment and on the back of it they're stationing police and military in the tower of the building for two months.

"It's a private, gated community with an old watch tower which is now a lift shaft.

"We have an MoD leaflet saying the building is the only suitable place in the area.

"It says there will be 10 officers plus police present 24/7. I'm not sure if they are going to live in the building.

"We have a gym and a pool and people have seen them there so it makes you think it will be some sort of Army base - it's not ideal."

Mr Whelan said the leaflets were handed out by the company which manages the flats.

"The general tone of it all was 'Great news, aren't we lucky', but that's not normal, it's not something people should have put on them," said Mr Whelan.

He added: "I've looked these (the missiles) 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."

A spokesman for Tower Hamlets Council said: "As part of the Olympic security programme we understand the MOD will be deploying a range of security measures across the six host boroughs.

"However, because of the sensitive nature of this information we are unable to give details at this time."  

Sky's Niall Paterson says news of the missiles in Bow comes ahead of an Olympics security exercise next week which will see "typhoon jets flying over London and HMS Ocean venture up the Thames".

Paterson said six sites have been identified in east London as suitable for ground-based air defence systems (GBADS), although the MoD insists no final decision has been taken.

An MoD 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."

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