View Full Version : Just as well we practiced those Olympic Flight Plans...
14th Nov 2011, 15:45
This just posted on the BBC website.
BBC News - Ground-to-air missiles 'may protect' London 2012 games (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-15724639)
...and before you ask no, I don't know any websites where you can buy portable chaff or any other countermeasures. Certainly nothing on Transair.
The implication in this news report is that the cousins are bullying the poor old UK over security which presumable includes the bizarre GA restrictions which extend over most of Southern England.
I really can't get my head around this. When we had the Royal Wedding anyone who's anyone was obediently lined up in the pews in Westminster Abbey at 11am on the day, yet there was only a modest prohibited zone around London. Now for the Olympics, we have a full blown Falklands-style exclusion zone complete with state-of-the-art missiles to boot. I eagerly await the new interception procedures which will tell us what to do when a missile is coming towards us.
I can only presume that they haven't insured the stadium?
14th Nov 2011, 16:13
You couldn't make it up.
14th Nov 2011, 16:34
Good grief. While I don't underestimate the ability of the UK to bugger up the event, until that's actually happened I think that (as a rule in general actually) it's time to invite the US go mind their own £"$"ing business!
14th Nov 2011, 16:46
I don't know any websites where you can buy portable chaff
There is a Chinese site offering 1,000 tons of aluminium ribbon for sale! You will need to know the radar frequency being used to cut the ribbon to probably half wavelength.
Option 'B' is to find a wind farm and loiter over that with your transponder switched off. If NATS is to be believed (they are demanding transponders up to 10,000' over wind farms because they say primary radar does not work over them - Wash Area TMZ consultation [of course transponders are mandatory anyway over FL010]) you will become invisible.
Sir George Cayley
14th Nov 2011, 17:53
Talking about chaff and radar presupposes that's the method used to steer the SAM. I'm no expert but I'm sure there are other systems in use and no doubt some black systems too.
I'm all for a chat about the Olympics, but I still think we should be mindfull of the direction some threads could take.
14th Nov 2011, 18:49
Don't worry guys. The minister was quite clear. They will only use the SAMs if it's necessary.
I can only wonder what it has come to if they ever feel the need to use them when it's unnecessary.
14th Nov 2011, 21:29
Given how many GA flights routinely get lost every day, the rules of engagement will need to be fairly, shall we say, "robust" :)
My guess is that it will be done mostly with helicopters, and the military ones are quick enough to intercept most piston GA traffic.
More tricky will be fast moving traffic... and god knows what they will do if somebody gets lost in IMC and remains non-radio, and is heading in the wrong direction. Tricky!
Still, we should be grateful they let us fly at all. In Greece, 2004, they just shut down all of GA.
14th Nov 2011, 21:46
IO540, The report says ground to air missiles, not air to air.
14th Nov 2011, 21:49
Yes, but visual ID will be, hmmm, considerably desirable, wouldn't you say?
Current SAM technology isn't capable of having a look in the cockpit to see if the pilot has short curly black hair and shaved armpits.
14th Nov 2011, 21:50
George, you are of course quite correct. We shouldn't behave badly on the forum and I do regret the chaff comment.
The thing that worries me about the announcement today is that it does create the possibility (and precedent), however remote, that someone flying a PA28 with their son for a day out to Duxford next summer could find themselves shot down. Cambridge is nearly 50 miles north of London for goodness sake. I think the problem is that there are so few of us and that the authorities and airspace users aren't working together, despite the great efforts AOPA and others. I can't imagine the transport secretary making an announcement that he will order tanks onto all bridges on the A12 during the Olympics. Anyone not prominently displaying their Olympic tickets in the front window of their car will get a nasty shock from the barrel of a Challenger tank.
A and C
15th Nov 2011, 10:31
I think that the reason for the large restricted zone is to give the authoritys to take approprate action such as intercepting the "lost" aircraft before it gets close enough to leave the authoritys no choice but to have to use force.
All this about missiles is just to seem to be tough on terrorists for the press, just a second or two of thinking about writing the rules of engagment for releasing a SAM into the busy London TMA presents all sorts of problems, if the missile malfunctions you risk bringing down an airliner onto the city and that is without thinking of the risks to people on the ground of bringing down a legitimat target.
Even engaging a light aircraft from a helicopter has risks after all think of the damage a 20mm cannon shell that missed its target could do flying down an East London high street.
This whole issue is about acting early to threats and being able to make an apropriate responce be that to frighten away a "lost" pilot or to destroy a real terror attack over open fields.
All that having beed said I an sure that driving a large van bomb to East London would be a lot more effective and practical than using a light aircraft.
15th Nov 2011, 18:11
15th Nov 2011, 18:24
Pfffft, Someone needs to tell our Leaders that Britain is not the 51st state. Hint to Americans.......you dont have to come here
15th Nov 2011, 20:44
Oh strewth - Complaining about chaff comments is just silly !
Not exactly new technology - do you imagine anyone contemplating trouble at the Olympics isn't aware of it. Or if our 'lords and masters' and those who advise them HAVEN'T managed to think about that, Gawd 'elp us !
2high2fast - quite right. The twits who come up with this stuff deserve to be wound up. And the Yanks should be told to wind their necks in.
What a load of complete idiots!!! I well remember just after 9/11 flying in a jet out of London and climbing through 24K.
Some pea brained plonker in his wisdom decided to put a 20 mile restriction zone around the centre of London.
We had kit on our jet that could hit the front door of parlament! cruising up the side of the zone it would have taken us in a dive 3.5 minutes to cover the distance to parlament so why????.
Now we have this latest idiotic suggestion. i suggest the powers that be take a serious look at the security on London underground. Any old terrorist could happily drag a case into a 200 PAX underground train totally unchallenged and blow himself and the rest up in seconds.
Why bother with things in the sky?
Maybe it would be better to have Sky to earth missiles to defend targets on the ground not in the air?
Sir Niall Dementia
16th Nov 2011, 09:10
I flew on the filming team for the Athens Olympics and there were SAMs in use there. we had areas where we had to black out the aerial cameras as the competition routes went right past the SAM sites and we weren't allowed to show them.
The airspace for Athens was dead simple, cylinders of airspace were set up around each event going from surface to infinity, the only VFR traffic allowed into the cylinders was us using special squawks, if any one else entered the space they would be "dealt with" Our controlling authority was the military unless we needed to cross the international airport when the airport took over. The cylinders were all on the Jepp chip in a Garmin 430 and all showed as I flew into Athens airspace from Corfu.
Each cylinder became live as we briefed for the technical rehearsal which happened for every event and then ceased as we flew back to base an hour after the event proper had finished, effectively a 5-9 hour restriction depending on the length of the event.
All restrictions ended an hour after we finished filming the closing ceremony, we flew the helicopters back to the UK on the Wednesday after the closing ceremony and life in Athens was back to normal.
here is a linky thing to an article in Helicopter Life Summer 2010 on what the job was like Helicopter Life (http://www.helicopterlife.com/2010_02/greece.html)
16th Nov 2011, 09:53
The fact that there are SAM sites and other counterterrorist measures surrounding an event like the Olympics doesn't surprise me. Nor does it surprise me that there are flight restrictions (first draconian, then lessened) and other restricting measures that are, at a first glance, aimed at limiting the ability of terrorists to perform terrorist acts, or at reducing their impact. (Whether these measures are actually effective or to a large extent security theater is a side issue.)
I'm also not surprised that stuff like this is not openly announced but is carefully leaked. It's all part of the great mindf*ck that is going on between the terrorists, the counter-terrorists and the general public.
But what I'm most curious about is the Rules of Engagement that these counter-terrorists teams (including the SAM teams) operate under. I mean, if there's a lone guy in an empty square, clearly outfitted as a terrorist, waving a bomb or something about, making threats, then you shoot him. Easy. But not all (or should I say: none) of these situations are as clear-cut, and there usually is a very high risk of collateral damage and political fallout.
So there's this aircraft straying into airspace where he should not be. It might be a genuine navigation error, it might be a terrorist. How can you tell one from the other? After all, deciding to shoot a C152 out of the sky which later turned out to be grandpa taking his granddaughter for a spin and getting lost is going to cost you a significant amount of votes. Not to mention the damage (and possibly lifes lost) on the ground from the debris: The bits of the ex-C152 have to go somewhere. And it doesn't take all that much burning avgas to start a major fire on the ground.
So where do you draw the line? What criteria do you use to decide whether to fire a SAM or not? Do you take into account the amount of "professionalism" of the flight leading up to the infringement (correct squawk codes, R/T, flight plan, navigation, ...), the altitude, the area the aircraft is flying over, the size of the aircraft? Who makes that final decision, and what is the expected time they have to accumulate all the information to make an informed decision? To what extent are the decision makers protected from legal proceedings, media and political fallout if their split second decision turned out to be controversial or outright wrong?
That's the sort of thing that isn't leaked. Obviously. But I would not be surprised if the ROEs are actually much more restrictive than what we all think them to be. After all, terrorist attacks are much rarer than navigational errors. And I would even not be surprised if the ROEs, for all practical purposes, do not include the option of actually firing those SAMs.
16th Nov 2011, 16:26
I suspect that any light aircraft infringing the restricted zone may find a military helicopter alongside. The GPMG in the side door should encourage rapid obedience to any signals given to the offender. No need for SAMs.
16th Nov 2011, 16:36
What's the betting come the day of a threat that we'll have "the wrong type of cloud"?