The UK government is considering sitting surface-to-air missiles on residential flats for the duration of the Olympic games in London. The news has come not through any official announcement from the Ministry of Defence, but from local residents.
People who live in the Tower Hamlets region of east London in blocks of apartments have received flyers which state that a "Higher Velocity Missile system" could be placed on the water towers situated on the roofs of apartment blocks.
Despite the leaflets being issued, the BBC reports
that a spokesman from the Ministry of Defence has said that no decision has been taken and that the information to residents simply highlights the possibility.
According to The Daily Telegraph
, the government have 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."
However, eyewitnesses have seen soldiers carrying equipment into residential buildings. The weapon being considered is a High Velocity Missile (HVM) system. The Daily Mail
describes the says the HVM system as one designed to counter threats from very high performance, low-flying aircraft.
Residents are concerned with the proposal, both in terms of being a potential terrorist target themselves and due to the damage that would occur to their properties, such a debris, which would arise if a missile was fired.
One resident, Brian Whelan, is quoted by ITV News
as saying "At first I thought it was a hoax. I can't see what purpose high-velocity missiles could serve over a crowded area like Tower Hamlets. They say they'll only use them as a last resort, but... you'd shower debris across the east end of London by firing these missiles."
The deployment of missiles may well be part of a well thought-out defense policy by David Cameron's government. It seems, however, that this policy has yet to be shared openly with the people affected.