Monday, July 23, 2018

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RAF Northolt Outlines Olympic Plans

The Royal Air Force base in Northolt has been speaking with local resident groups this week in an effort to circulate details on the base's plans in the run up to the Olympics.

It was announced last year that a squadron of supersonic Typhoon fighter jets will be stationed at Northolt throughout the Olympic period as a first response to any security concerns during this summer's games.

Speaking at a community liaison event on Thursday (26th April), Sqn Ldr Richard Willis released the below FAQ information sheet for immediate circulation to forewarn residents of any potential noise disturbances, both during the Olympics and in preparation in the months leading up to the event.




How are the military contributing to the Olympics?

The safety and security of the Olympic and Paralympics Games and those taking part, including London residents, is paramount, which is why, the Secretary of State announced last year the deployment of military Units to London to support the overall security plan. These include Typhoon aircraft, HMS Ocean, helicopters, Marine units on the Thames and Ground Based Air Defence systems.

Similar capabilities have been made available at every Olympic Games since the Atlanta Games in 1996. At the time, he stated that the Services would support the Police in providing security on the Thames, in the Air over London and at Games venues.

What is RAF Northolt’s role?

At the end of 2011 the Secretary of State announced that Typhoon fast jets would be forward based at RAF Northolt to provide a Quick Reaction Alert force to protect the airspace over London. In addition Sea King early warning helicopters and some Army support elements will be accommodated at the base.

What is the Defence Live Exercise?

In preparation for the deployment, it will be necessary for the crews to conduct familiarisation flights. These familiarisation flights will take place during a live exercise which will take place from 2nd to 10th May.

This live exercise will allow testing of all the parts of the plan which involve the Armed Forces in their role during the Games.  Helicopters and supporting crews will also operate from Ilford Territorial Army Centre for an as yet undecided part of that exercise.

Flying at RAF Northolt

- Typhoon – Typhoon jets will arrive at RAF Northolt in the afternoon of 2 May for the Live Exercise and depart on 10 May. They will return in mid-July for the Olympic period. During 2-10 May Typhoon will fly regularly in order to train the pilots in safe operation from RAF Northolt. Flying during the actual Olympic period is expected to be far less frequent as the Typhoon force will be primarily reactive to any incident.

- Sea King – The Royal Navy Sea King air surveillance helicopters will exercise their role throughout 2-10 May and are expected to fly occasionally. Due to their role they will get airborne quickly and operate at high level over London.

- Islander – The Islander will continue to fly as required.

- 32 (The Royal) Squadron – 32 (The Royal) Squadron will continue to operate from RAF Northolt.

- Commercial Aircraft – The number of movements at all airports in the London area is being carefully controlled and centrally coordinated during the Olympic period. Due to the increased military flying from RAF Northolt the number of commercial flights is expected to decrease over the period. It is anticipated that some national delegations and Heads of State will use RAF Northolt to attend the Games.


The operation of Typhoon from RAF Northolt will inevitably cause some disturbance due to the engines being much noisier than the aircraft that normally operate from the base. Whilst some flying after dark will be necessary, flying for the Live Exercise will not normally continue beyond 1100pm and will be restricted to a small number of take-off and landings. Flying during the Olympics will be mainly reactive and infrequent although it may happen at any time of day or night. In extreme circumstances, Typhoon is cleared for supersonic flight, but this is only allowed when the aircraft is at high altitude and not in the proximity of Northolt.


In order to ensure the safety of pedestrians and road users from jet engine exhaust, it has been necessary to remove a 60m section of hedge on the West End Road and replace with specialist fencing with an inner mesh that is designed to dissipate the jet exhaust and, in the unlikely event, capture any debris that is blown backwards. As an added measure, the eastern Runway Arrestor Bed has been temporarily turfed, but will maintain the same aircraft stopping characteristics. Working with both the London Borough of Hillingdon and Transport for London we have agreed special signage that will be placed along the West End Road and A40 to alert both pedestrians and road users to unusual and noisy air activity.

Will there be an opportunity for local people to visit and see the aircraft?

The support of local people for the Royal Air Force and RAF Northolt in particular is greatly appreciated and the fact that the base has existed since early 1915 means that a close bond has developed. To thank the community for their understanding during the Live Exercise it is planned to allow pre-booked visitors onto the base on the morning of 10 May to view the Typhoon and other aircraft. Access to this event will be booked through local residents associations, Councillors and schools. Details will be published through community representatives and on the RAF Northolt website. Typhoon pilots and personnel from RAF Northolt will be available during this event to answer questions relating to our role in support of the Olympic Air Security Plan.

When will things return to “normal”?

The Live Exercise will run from 2nd May to 10th May and local people will notice some intense periods of flying activity throughout the exercise. After the exercise, Typhoon will depart and activity will revert to a more normal level. However, in the build up to the Olympic and Paralympic Games the level of activity will increase again and is expected to return to normal in mid-September once the Paralympic Games conclude.

Personnel at RAF Northolt will keep local representatives advised of any significant changes to the planned key dates or events.


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