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Snipers Take To The Skies Above London For Olympics Exercise


The most recent in a series of Olympics security exercises are taking place in London and on the south coast. Exercise Olympic Guardian is a nine-day exercise designed to test readiness and procedures for the combined military and police forces protecting the Games.

Yesterday in London, HMS Ocean squeezed through the Thames Barrier before moving into position at Greenwich, where she will be berthed for the duration of the Games later this summer.

Operating from HMS Ocean for this exercise are 4 Royal Navy Lynx and 4 Army Air Corps Lynx helicopters. These helicopters will practise patrolling the Thames with snipers from 539 Assault Squadron Royal Marines, 43 Commando and the RAF Regiment aboard. During the Games, the Royal Marinessnipers will be ready to identify and engage any waterborne terrorist threats threats from low flying light aircraft will be dealt with by the RAF Regiment snipers.

In the event of an authorised intrusion into London's airspace, the helicopter-borne snipers will fire a flare round from a combat shotgun across the nose of the suspect aircraft. If the aircraft still fails to alter course they will disable its engine with a round from a L115a3 sniper rifle. As a last resort the snipers can escalate to taking out the pilot with a head shot. Other elements of the layered air defence over the capital include surface-to-air missile batteries placed on rooftops and Typhoon fighter aircraft flying combat air patrols.

Royal Marines from 539 Assault Squadron and the Met's River Police will secure the Thames river network with patrol boats. In an earlier series of exercises, Royal Marines and armed police from the Marine Policing Unit boarded suspect vessels on the Thames.

Armed police from C019 and special forces, including the 22nd Special Air Service will be stationed in the capital, ready to counter any terrorist threat.

HMS Balwark is also carrying out exercises off the south coast of Dorset. Dring the Games, HMS Balwark will act as a floating base for civil and military forces protecting the Olympic sailing events at Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour. Royal Marines have been patrolling the venues in offshore raiding craft during the ongoing security exercises.

It was reported last year that elements of the Special Boat Service (SBS) will also be on hand to protect the sailing events.

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