Ground based air defence systems have been put to the test as part of a wider exercise to ensure the security and safety of the 2012 Olympic Games.
The Rapier Air Defence systems operated by 16 Regiment Royal Artillery (16 Regt RA) have been placed in six locations around the Olympic park in order to protect it against any threats from the air. The air security plan was tested during Exercise OLYMPIC GUARDIAN, a nine-day exercise designed to ensure the equipment is capable of defending the site and also to reassure the public ahead of the games.
Members of the public were invited to view the Rapier system close hand in order to gain a better understanding of its capabilities. They also had the chance to meet soldiers from16 Regt RA who will be stationed on Blackheath Common and the other sites for the duration of the games.
Major Shaun Lamb, the Battery Commander said: “There has been a lot of public and media interest, which is a new experience for the guys, but they have really enjoyed talking to the public and are looking forward to guarding London during the Olympics.”
The network of ground-based air defence systems is responsible for tracking, and if necessary, engaging unauthorised or hostile aircraft that enter the air exclusion zone around the Olympic park. The Rapier system is able to identify targets up to 15km away and engage supersonic aircraft with one of its eight missiles in all forms of weather both day and night.
They will be manned by rotating teams of soldiers from 16 Regt RA, who are based in North Luffenham, Rutland.