Missile questions for our MPs

UPDATE: The response to this post from Heidi Alexander MP can be read here.

So we are to have missiles in our beautiful shared garden.

Clive Efford (Labour, MP for Eltham) criticised the Defence Minister for placing missiles in Olxeas Wood. But what about the ones planned on Blackheath?

Heidi Alexander (Labour, MP for Lewisham East) tweeted the following today:

MoD were looking at Blackheath suitability for potential olympic missile defence site last week. No decision yet taken. link
Have asked MoD for face to face briefing. link
I know it sounds surreal but sadly true. Nothing has been decided yet though. link
MoD describe it as some form of ground based air defence system. That’s all I know at the moment. link

Lewisham East Constituency

A commenter on my facebook page suggested the possible location of the missiles:

“The radar trial took place on Thursday just north east of the army cadet centre. the launcher was sans missile ( thank goodness)” — John Morris

As can just about be seen on the Ordnance Survey Election Maps, if the missile site is located north-east of the Territorial Army Barracks, this places it firmly in Heidi’s constituency.

However, assuming it is a Rapier missile, it has a range of 500m (seems very short to me?), meaning that it could also potentially kill people in the neighbouring “Greenwich and Woolwich Borough” constituency, the MP of which is Nick Raynsford (Labour).

I’d dearly love to attend the assembly meeting tomorrow, but I’m unlikely to be able to make it. If Heidi Alexander is at the assembly on Tuesday, here are some questions, you might like to consider asking:

* Who owns the land that the missiles will be placed on?
* Were any special orders required to place the missiles on the land?
* Who owns the missiles?
* Is there any way that you could have prevented this from happening?
* When did you first hear about it, and how was it presented to you?
* Do you think it is an appropriate course of action, taken by a supposedly sovereign nation, during peace time?

Guardian 13th Nov 2011: US officials worried about security at London 2012 Olympics

Washington’s need for reassurance is exasperating British officials and anti-terrorism officials, who have privately raised concerns about the meddling, as well as the size of the US “footprint” in the UK during the games next year.

BBC News 14th Nov 2011: Ground-to-air missiles ‘may protect’ London 2012 games

Mr Hammond was asked by his predecessor to confirm whether there would be a “full range of multilayered defence and deterrents” in place for the 2012 Games including surface-to-air missiles.

He replied: “I can assure him that all necessary measures to ensure the security and safety of the London Olympic Games will be taken including – if the advice of the military is that it is required – appropriate ground-to-air defences.”

UPDATE: Reply from Councillor Chris Maines on my facebook page:

I can confirm that there will be an opportunity to ask questions at the Blackheath Assembly tonight – a senior police officer will be present. However, this is an MOD issue and they are a difficult organisation to engage in full consultation. Since my briefing last week I have raised question at cabinet committee level although it seems as a matter of national security it is difficult to get definative responses, Cllr Chris Maines – Chair, Blackheath Assembly

BBC News article including quote from Heidi Alexander about the missiles
Olympics missile sites considered for Blackheath and Shooters Hill

On Facebook, Kevin Bonavia (local councillor) says that an MoD representative will attend the Assembly tonight.


Filed under blackheath, Olympics

34 responses to “Missile questions for our MPs

  1. ThePirateKing

    I don’t understand why you sound negative about this Mr Bugle.

    If the church is attacked by a giant cat – as seen in your photo – then you will be the first person saying what a good job the missiles were there.

  2. k f banhart

    Oh shut up you bunch of clowns. Install the missiles, let’s have a look. It will be different and it will be interesting. Let’s have a bit of fun with lots to talk about, there’s not a lot else. Where in the hell is your sense of the ridiculous and adventure. Bring it on!

    • Indigo

      Plenty of adventure in my life without needing to make all the open green spaces round here terrorist-magnets.

      • scott

        I can’t see them being terrorist magnets at all. A river crossing or the public transport network is at more risk.

        That said due to TFL, the Olympics will be a big enough disaster without any terrorist actions. It will be a long 6 weeks for everyone.

      • Anonymous

        Ok, let’s put this into perspective. You’re a terroist – who would you rather attack?..a fully armed and guarded missle base or a busy train station?

  3. k f banhart

    I agree with the previous.

  4. @HTFB

    The TA site is about 500m west of your marker, between Hare and Billet Road and Mounts Pond Road. The consensus on the internet seems to give Rapier a more plausible range of 6.8km.

    It’s not exactly Greenham Common, is it?

  5. Rupert Fiennes

    “Do you think it is an appropriate course of action, taken by a supposedly sovereign nation, during peace time?”

    You are joking, right? The definition of a “sovereign nation” is one that is willing and able to defend it’s borders. You could try hurling copies of the Guardian overhead at a suicide plane as it roars overhead enroute to the Olympic stadium, but it’s unlikely to do much good.

    Minimum range is 500m for Rapier, maximum more like 8000m

    • Rapier missile range 500 m (max.) to 8 m (min.)
      from the MoD site: http://www.army.mod.uk/equipment/artillery-air-defence/1513.aspx

      What good do you think debris from an exploding plane over London would do? I’d rather shake my copy of the Graun at them.

      And it’s “its” not “it’s”.

      • A little common sense

        Yes. Heaven forfend that an internet comment should contain a grammatical error. Especially given the figures you’re quoting are clearly incorrect. It is not physically possible for something to have a maximum range of 8m and a minimum range of 500m Doesn’t stop you quoting it as fact it seems. Just think about it please. Perhaps there’s a missing ‘k’ on the max figure?

        Oh and by the way – what’s worse – a plane crashing into an Olympic(tm) stadium and taking out everybody there, or a plane being shot out of the sky and taking out a lot of other people on ground? My many is on the latter being a better situation.

      • Franklin

        This is shocking!!

        When did the British Army go METRIC?!?

        The end is NIGH!

        Next thing you know we’ll have a German Queen…

        PS. I’d hate to be the guy who has to fire that thing at an enemy eight metres away.

    • Indigo

      “The definition of a “sovereign nation” is one that is willing and able to defend it’s borders.”

      What, like Iraq?

      Actually, the definition of a sovereign state is a state with a defined territory on which it exercises internal and external sovereignty, a permanent population, a government, and the capacity to enter into relations with other sovereign states. Not quite what you said.

  6. Lot of fuss about nothing. A missile is just for show. If it ever needed to be fired the plane pilot has done his job.

    Do you really think Johnny Terrorist is going to worry about being blown up over Greenwich or in the Olympic Stadium?? The publicity of any crash, wherever it was, would be enough. Do you really think people would say, “The terrorist failed because he got a missile up his arse three miles short of Stratford and killed loads of cockneys rather than spectators?””

    Rapier are crap anyway, far too delicate. I think the MoD meant to say they go wrong after eight metres…..

  7. When Dolittle launched a carrier based raid on Tokyo in WW2 he mounted two broomsticks painted black in the rear turrets of the bombers to scare away anyone who wanted to launch a sneaky attack. It also saved weight.

    Perhaps we’re going to do the same. I mean who will know if the the missiles aren’t made out of old cereal boxes and sticky-backed plastic?

    I agree about the consultation….er, lack of, but then in today’s Big Brotheresque society as soon as the words ‘terrorist’ or ‘defence’ are uttered then any rights we have go out of the window.

    • Franklin

      Or maybe they’re made from the Bugle’s disused Grauniads and buckets of flour paste, and this blog post is just a major disinformation campaign?

  8. Adrian

    According to my local friendly arms dealer the range is 6.8 KM and is classed as long range surface to air missile. Nice to see that the army’s (did I get the apostrophe right?) view of “long Range” is just over 4 miles!

    Can’t see why everyone is in a tiz-waz over this. Its clearly a credible defence against a potential threat. The problem will be threat identification, given that there are two airports that definitely fly over this area. The possibility for misidentification and shooting down a civilian airliner are scary.

    Mind you, it should improve the noise abatement tactics of some of the local pilots. “Throttle back, we are being tracked”.

    • Indigo

      “Its clearly a credible defence against a potential threat. ”

      Unless your threat is a chap who isn’t bothered about never going home to tell his mates about his mission to bring an airliner down on London in full view of tv cameras broadcasting live around the world.

      There is an awful lot of gung-ho denial by commentators about the missile battery. I am not saying that it is unnecessary but this is an appalling escalation of the military apparatus. Also, why are there no Rapier missile batteries on Parliament Hill or College Green? I cannot believe that the terrorist threat is only from the south-east.

  9. Paddy

    No doubt this will get NOGOEs backing and full support. NOGOE recently posted some ill advised tweets about their dismay that an irish building firm had been given a contract to carry out some work for the Olympics in Woolwich – their concern being that the firm had irish roots, which was surely a potential security risk to the Olympics (unbelievable, but true). In light of these comments they must be delighted that the government are taking such proactive measures against perceived security threats.

  10. creepylesbo

    You’d have thought they’d just sneak it into the TA centre grounds behind the walls and no one except the TA recruits would be any the wiser…

  11. skittles

    agree 100% with you BB and Indigo.
    When I’d stopped laughing at how surreal this all is and how many Colonel Blimps seem to live within our green midst, I got angry. There’s nowt as permanent as temporary measures.

    • Franklin

      Umm, aren’t permanent measures as permanent as temporary measures?

      And are you implying that the MoD secretly wants to install a missile battery on the heath permanently? That seems a pretty far-fetched – and dare I say it, scaremongering – suggestion.

      • Indigo

        “and dare I say it, scaremongering – suggestion.”

        “Scaremongering” is a word that all the Olympics apologists and cheerleaders – LOCOG, the amenity society executives, Councillors Roberts and Fahy of Greenwich – are over-fond of using to describe doubters and the opposition. And, had anyone predicted Rapier missile batteries, everyone would have said that was “scaremongering” but now we are told that we are to have them. By the way, what is the recommended exclusion zone around an anti-aircraft missile battery? How likely is it that homes and business within a mile of the Rapier missiles installation will be ordered to clear out until late September?

      • Franklin

        “Apologists and cheerleaders” are words that one fanatical anti-Olympics campaigner is over-fond of using to describe anyone who wants to discuss the real Olympics-related issues affecting Greenwich in a reasoned, calm way.

        If suggesting that everyone who lives within a mile of the heath – the entire population of Blackheath village and central Greenwich – is going to be “ordered to clear out” for three months isn’t scaremongering, I don’t know what is.

  12. Bongo

    Well, I suppose it is easy to get worked up over something when one does not take time to research things properly. The batteries will not be aremed because they are not there to fire missiles, they are there because they are equipped with a radar system that can detect low-flying aircraft.

  13. Anonymous

    It all probably was as follows:

    The Army found the Missile Launcher, somewhere in the back of one their sheds, they have cleaned , polished and painted it, taken it out on to the Heath to test it, and at some point , they will let one of the local kids, press the button and fire one of the wooden dummy missiles and it will land with a thud eight metres away on the sweet smelling freshly mown grass of the Heath.

  14. Gordon

    I wish those bemoaning the deployment of the Army’s Air Defence systems would get their facts correct.

    Rapier FSC is a SHORAD (Short Range Air Defence) missile system. It is a 24-hour, all-weather guided weapon system with a primary role of providing limited area Air Defence (AD) cover against fixed wing aircraft, helicopters and unmanned Air Vehicles (UAV). It has a missile range of 8km (5 miles) and a radar range of 15km to allow for the engagement of a target at the maximum missile range.

    The Starstreak HVM (High Velocity Missile) is also a Shorad system designed to counter threats from low-flying aircraft and fast ‘pop up’ strikes by helicopter attacks. It has a Semi-Automatic Line of Sight Beam Riding guidance system and is not a 24 hour, all-weather system.

    These two system will provide an inner ring of defence to a much lager overall air defence strategy to counter any terrorist strike from the air, which will include the intelligence services, the many civilian, naval & RAF radar systems and fighter aircraft.

    This co-ordinated defence will provide a real deterence to any thoughts of a terrorist strike from the air and that is why the missile systems should be allowed to deploy. In fact in the local ‘News Shoppers’ recent poll on the subject 53% people were happy for the systems to be deployed whilst only 33% opposed it and with 14% undecided.

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