The workaday residents of London are again being asked to participate in the defense of the city. Bow Quarter in East London is a white collar, somewhat pedestrian neighborhood populated by young families and professional types, but this summer residents very well might see their sleepy enclave militarized. Over the weekend the Ministry of Defense notified residents of a few different neighborhoods around London's Olympic Park that they could become home to batteries of high-velocity surface-to-air missiles. In other words, Londoners are getting rockets on their rooftops.
London's security operation for the Games (running from July 27 to August 12) is pretty spectacular, and the military will be playing a central role alongside police and more conventional security officers. Britain's MoD has already confirmed that up to 13,500 troops, two warships, Typhoon fighter jets, military explosives ordnance disposal teams, and combat helicopters will all be deployed around the country for the duration of the Olympics. But the militarization of their rooftops came as a surprise to residents, who were informed via the post that roughly 10 troops and a variety of hardware could be installed atop their buildings for up to two months this summer.
This week the MoD intends to conduct live tests (with dummy missiles, of course) to see if the proposed command and control network for the high-velocity missile (HVM) system will actually be able to counter low-flying threats to the airspace over the games. Bow Quarter is reportedly the leading contender among the roughly half dozen candidates, as a water tower on top of the neighborhood's Lexington Building offers the best unimpeded view of the airspace over Olympic Park, some two miles away.
It's a stark reminder that the Olympics aren't all fun and games. Should any aerial threat emerge over the park itself, the MoD anticipates the HVM system to be the last line of defense.
I don't think the idea will be received well. Not to mention that in our current capability, the idea that missiles have to be mounted on private rooftops to get to a hijacked plane before it could possibly be flown into something is just stupid. If the plane is already so close to something that you need the interception speed and explosives of a missile to deal with it, then London would have already lost positive control, right? The blown up plane has to go somewhere too. And the missiles themselves become the highest possible goal the terrorists could gain that day? The list against this one will be long.
At modern warmachine prices, wouldn't it be cheaper to put an SAS squad on every airliner cockpit door, than the price of just one missile? Seriously, what would that cost? PLUS, with the SAS squads, the UK doesn't have to worry about that whole plane-wreckage-fireball-mass-casualties guarantee of the missile idea. Hey! Don't forget that you can still shoot down a plane or twelve if you want to, England.
I can see it as a last-resort but its a huge cost for just a paranoid feeling. I mean what is going to get that deep into the airspace? It would require getting past the modern radar systems, the warships, the Typhoons, and the choppers. Plus there is the fast that missiles have a knack for turning targets into flaming masses of metal that have to land somewhere in a densely populated city. Nice concept but it might be better to beef up the other lines of defense. Too much can go wrong.