RAF jets, snipers ready to use ‘lethal force’ to guard Olympics

Updated: Jul 14, 2012, 15:02 PM IST

Britain’s Royal Air Force, military helicopters with highly-trained snipers and the Navy’s largest warship, HMS Ocean, have all been pressed into service to thwart any attempt to disrupt or attack the London Olympics.

A leading RAF officer has warned that pilots who break no-fly rules over London during the Olympics risk being shot down in a show of “lethal force”.

The Typhoons are to deter attacks by fast jets while snipers in Puma and Lynx helicopters will tackle “low and slow” airborne threats, such as microlights or single-propeller planes which stray into the restricted zone, The Sun reports.

The Olympics air security commander, Air Vice-Marshal Stuart Atha, said: “As a last resort, we will have lethal force as an option.”

Asked who would give the order for lethal force to be used, he replied: “The highest level of Government makes that decision.”

He was speaking at RAF Northolt in west London, where the Typhoons will be based.

The snipers will be armed with the Sharpshooter rifle and a combat shotgun. The Sharpshooter is highly accurate over a range of up to a mile and its 7.62mm bullets would target a pilot who refuses to co-operate.

The Civil Aviation Authority has sent a leaflet to all private pilots, spelling out what they must do if intercepted, The Sun reports.