29 Apr 2012

UK puts missiles on London rooftop to guard Olympics

5:40 pm on 29 April 2012

Britain's military has told residents of an upscale apartment development in east London it is installing a rooftop missile battery at their housing complex to defend the Olympic Games that start in July.

The Ministry of Defence says the site near the Olympic Park is one of a number around the capital the army is considering as bases for surface-to-air missiles to protect the games from an aerial attack.

It is the first time such missiles have been deployed in London since the end of World War II.

Some of the apartment block's residents say they are shocked.

One, Brian Whelan, said there was no consultation - all residents got was a leaflet.

He says the measure is excessive and he can't imagine the circumstances that would require missiles to be fired over a highly populated area.

Defence Secretary Philip Hammond first announced the plans in November, saying Britain would follow the precedent set by previous Olympics such as the Beijing games in 2008 where surface-to-air missiles were stationed a kilometre south of its showpiece stadiums.

The rooftop missile battery is one of a number of extraordinary measures Londoners can expect during the high-profile sporting festival, including restrictions on road lanes for Olympic use and a security bill of more than £1 billion.