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SO18 Aviation Security

SO18 Aviation Security is a Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) Operational Command Unit (OCU) that protects and polices London Heathrow Airport and London City Airport. Its base of operations is at Heathrow, with a sub command operating out of North Woolwich Police Station that serves London City Airport.

Part of SO18's role includes deploying Authorised Firearms Officers (AFO) on armed foot patrols inside the terminal buildings, typically in 2-person teams.

SO18 also operates a fleet of Armed Response Vehicle teams that patrol the roadways in and around the airport. The ARVs may also be called on to respond to firearms incidents in local boroughs. ARV models include BMW 5 series estates and Mitsubishi Shogans.

Aviation Security also has a sniper capability. SO18 Rifle Officers may deploy to provide overwatch in response to a firearms incident in the terminal buildings or a hijacked aircraft out on the tarmac.

It is rumoured that some SO18 AFOs have been trained as air marshals and have been deployed aboard flights in an armed plainclothes security role.

SO18 are armed with the Glock 17 9mm self-loading pistol as the standard sidearm. Long arms carried include the G36C semi-automatic carbine or the MP5SF semi-automatic carbine. The X25 taser and pepper spray are also carried.

Video: Aviation Security
(MPS video providing an overview of SO18 Aviation Security)

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