Military snipers are to be deployed in helicopters during the London Olympics and if required will shoot pilots of low-flying aircraft that might be involved in terrorist attacks, it emerged on Monday.
A team of seven snipers is being given “comprehensive on-the-ground and in-the-air training” as part of the all encompassing security operation being undertaken by the police and the army.
General Sir Nick Parker, who is in charge of co-ordinating the armed forces during the 2012 Games, described the role of the snipers as he revealed the six sites where anti-aircraft missiles may be based as part of the security operation.
The four that are in open spaces – at Blackheath, Lea Valley reservoir, Shooters Hill and Epping Forest – will be home to a battery of Rapier surface-to-air missiles, which are the UK’s primary air defence weapon.
Smaller high-velocity missiles (HVMs) will be put on the top of residential buildings in Tower Hamlets and Waltham Forest.
Parker said the missiles would only be fired as a “very last resort”, and any decision to use them would have to come from the “very highest level” – on the authority of the prime minister.
“We put snipers into the helicopters … they won’t all be flying at the same time. It is a standby capability and you operate one sniper in each aircraft. This is part of our layered response. The very final thing would be to shoot the pilot and we are conducting some comprehensive training on the ground and in the air so these snipers can do their job.”
Read More: Guardian