RAF jets to protect skies during Games

FIGHTER jets from RAF Coningsby will be at the forefront of an estimated £1 billion security operation to combat the threat of terrorism at the London Olympics.

State-of-the-art Typhoon aircraft have recently returned to the base after taking part in a top-level Olympic Training exercise.

The jets - capable of speeds of more than 1,500mph - will patrol the skies above London during the Games.

Wing Commander Dickie Patounas, officer commanding the 3 (fighter) squadron at Coningsby, said: “We will deploy again in July at Northolt. We will be on stand-by. We are always on stand-by. As we speak now, we have two Typhoon aircraft on alert (at Coningsby).

“That is 24-7, 365 days a year. It keeps it interesting.”

Confirmation of involvement at the Olympics came just 48 hours after 3 squadron staged its centenary celebrations at Coningsby.

One of the pilots who will be on duty at the Olympics is Flt Lt Marc Wilson.

He said: “We’re just one part of the team that will be providing support at the Olympics, along with a lot of other people.

“Hopefully, we won’t be called into action and we will be sat about, purely awaiting a call. If we are required, we will be ready.”

Flt Lt Wilson was most recently involved in action in Libya. He revealed: “I did two stints in Libya. I personally flew about 20 combat missions, from reconnaissance to actual strike missions.

“The surface-to-air threat was significant but it is part of the job. There is danger inherent in it.

“It was fairly steady and unexciting which is just how I like it. Hopefully, the Olympics will prove to be the same.”

The Government has identified terrorism as the ‘biggest threat’ to security at the Olympics.

The estimated cost of providing security has increased from an initial £267m to £1.2billion.

A Home Office spokesman said: “The focus of the Government and everyone involved is to deliver a safe and secure Olympics. “We are working to a robust and comprehensive safety and security strategy. We want to reassure everyone that we will leave nothing to chance.”