* Surface-to-air missiles to be deployed if military advise
* Would follow precedent of Beijing and Athens games
* Olympics official denies U.S. unhappy with security
By Tim Castle
LONDON, Nov 14 Britain is ready to use
missiles to protect next year's London Olympics from an airborne
attack, Defence Minister Philip Hammond said on Monday, amid
reports the United States was unhappy with security plans for
"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," Hammond told parliament.
It would be the first time surface-to-air missiles have been
deployed in Britain since the end of the Second World War, a
defence ministry spokesman said, adding that no decisions had
been made yet.
Hammond's announcement came as the Guardian newspaper
reported the United States was concerned about security at the
games and planned to send up to 1,000 of its agents, including
500 from the FBI, to protect American contestants and diplomats.
London's Olympic security coordinator Chris Allison
dismissed the report, saying he was about to fly to Washington
in a prearranged trip to give an update on planning for next
"We're not hearing any concerns being expressed from them at
all," he told BBC radio, adding that there would only be a small
number of foreign security liaison officers at the games.
A decision to install air defence weaponry in London would
follow a precedent set by previous Olympic hosts. China deployed
a battery of surface-to-air missiles a kilometre south of its
showpiece venues for the Beijing games in 2008.
Greece placed dozens of U.S.-made Patriot missiles around
Athens around six weeks before the 2004 Olympics, the first
summer games after the September 2001 attacks on the United
One option for providing surface-to-air defence in London
could include stationing one of Britain's new missile-equipped
Royal Navy Type 45 destroyers in the River Thames estuary near
the games, the defence ministry spokesman said.
Another choice would be to use the British Army's land-based
Rapier surface-to-air missile launcher.
More than 6,000 British soldiers dressed as civilian
security guards are expected to boost security at London's
Olympic venues, a source told Reuters earlier this month,
supplementing force of at least 10,000 civilian guards and
Britain remains on high alert for a terrorist attack despite
its international threat level being lowered from severe to
substantial, the third-highest level, meaning an attack is a
strong possibility and could occur without warning.
The country has been a terrorist target for many years, with
its role in Iraq and Afghanistan, as a leading U.S. ally,
increasing the threat from Islamist militants.
Four young British Islamists killed 52 commuters in suicide
bomb attacks on London's transport network in July 2005, the day
after the capital was awarded the 2012 games.
(Additional reporting by Michael Holden; Editing by Jon