It was a trip down memory lane this morning when I heard that the Army were going to deploy air defence missiles onto blocks of flats around the site of the Olympics.
Having served with both shoulder launched weapons and the longer range Rapier missiles, I ran a quick mental check as to which one I’d prefer on my roof.
There’s no doubt about it, the shoulder launch version is much quieter than the longer range Rapier which requires a generator running 24 hours a day to keep it active. Fired from the shoulder the High Velocity Missile (HVM) makes no noise until it’s fired. The Rapier however has a radar tracker that seeks out targets at all times and therefore needs the generator to power it.
The HVM only needs a detachment of 3 or 4, whilst the Rapier comes with about 8, sometimes more to keep it running. And of course there’s always the need to create an area to administer the troops. So the Rapier guys need more space!
But what about capability: can they knock down aircraft if they have to?
The answer for both is an unequivocal “Yes”. There’s even a true story from the Falklands War of the precursor to HVM killing 2 aircraft with one missile! That’s how good these missiles are and the guys who man them.
So they are both fit for purpose, but if I had my choice I’d go for the HVM guys: so much less obtrusive!
But later today I started to hear some “comment” from politicos in East London stating “the Army should expain X,Yand Z about the threat and the likely response”. What absolute rubbish.
An enormous decision has been taken, in response to a possible threat, that we need to deploy missiles around the Olympics to ensure that no hijacked aircraft can hit possible targets anywhere in London.
Questions from vacuous, minor politicians seeking some airtime are irrelevant.
There is definitely a potential and credible threat and we need to defend against it. Missiles on the roof are one answer, but so are better Border Controls.
Thankfully the Ministry of Defence will get the air defence sorted, but I’m not sure our borders are as well defended as they need to be.
Perhaps we could train some troops to sort out passport control?