A senior Army officer has warned that unmanned drones carrying deadly poison could be used in a devastating terrorist attack during the Olympic Games.
Lieutenant Colonel Brian Fahy delivered the grim warning at a meeting intended to allay the fears of residents worried about the Army’s plans to place missiles on the rooftops of flats.
He said it was ‘feasible’ that remote-controlled aircraft filled with poison and small enough to fit into a backpack could be used as a biological weapon in the capital.
Watch out: Armed police officers patrol outside the Olympic stadium in the Olympic Park, London
Crosshairs: Royal Artillery Bombardier Johnathan demonstrates a High Velocity multiple surface rot air missile system to local residents at Buxton school in Leytonstone
He told The Mail on Sunday: ‘An Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can be put in a backpack. They come in all sorts of sizes and it’s feasible they could be filled with something noxious and flown by remote-control.’
Lieut Col Fahy – the officer responsible for community relations during the Games – made his remarks on Friday in Leytonstone, East London, near one of six sites which could see the deployment of surface-toair missile batteries in order to shoot down aircraft attempting to infiltrate an Olympic ‘no fly’ zone.
Fears: An unmanned drone could be used by terrorists to deliver a biological weapon strike, a senior army officer warned
During the meeting at Buxton School, his team showed locals a ‘dummy’ missile battery and allowed children to play on the unarmed weapon.
Lieut Col Fahy declined to elaborate on what type of poison might be used during an aerial attack.
He said: ‘For the duration of the Olympics anyone flying into controlled airspace is to file their flight plan with the Civil Aviation Authority.
‘The range of threats varies in size and capability. It could be a commercial airliner hijacked by somebody with malicious intentions or a protest group using a microlight to get their name in the papers.’
His poison warning came as it was revealed that SAS troops have had anthrax emergency training at the Government’s top-secret military research establishment at Porton Down, Wiltshire.
Sources say the elite soldiers wore biochemical protection suits, gloves and masks during exercises over the past few months to prepare for any attack using the deadly bacteria.
Such an incident could threaten the lives of thousands of people attending the Games this summer.
Lieut Col Fahy told The Mail on Sunday: ‘We have worked up a comprehensive plan to protect against the potential hijacking of a commercial airliner down to slow-moving microlights or radio-controlled planes.’
Battle stations: The army placed a surface-to-air missile on top the Fred Wigg tower block in Waltham Forest, est London as part of a series of security tests for the 2012 Olympics
Defence: The surface-to-air missile on top of the Waltham Forest tower block are one of a link of armaments designed to create a ring of steel around the Olympic site
Repurposed: The Fred Wigg Tower in Waltham Forest, London, has been chosen as one of six sites around London to form a ‘ring of steel’ to safeguard the Olympic Games
Asked if they would fire a missile at a protester flying a microlight near the Olympic site, Lieut Col Fahy said: ‘We would not take it out. For something like that we would scramble helicopters to go and look at it.
‘There will be an RAF sniper on board if there was serious evidence to suggest something like that represented a threat. That information gets passed on and it’s a political decision to engage.
‘It’s the same politicians who will decide whether we fire surface-to-air missiles at a potential threat. It’s a decision that I’m quite happy not to make. It will weigh very heavily.’
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond has made it clear he is ready to give the order to shoot down any aircraft threatening the Olympics with a 9/11-style attack.
Practice: Setting up ahead in Blackheath, of a training exercise designed to test military procedures prior to the Olympic period
Training time: A member of the Royal Artillery aims the Starstreak High Velocity Missile System, part of the ground based air defence systems that may be deployed during the Olympics, at Blackheath, London
Lieut Col Fahy also revealed that armed police would guard any missile sites being used in case any attempts were made to steal them or protest against their deployment.
He added: ‘What we are doing is unusual. Londoners are not used to seeing a lot of soldiers around. Some people feel uncomfortable about the missiles but the vast majority, I think, appreciate we are doing this.’
HMS Ocean, one of the UK’s biggest warships, is based in the Thames, with the capability to fire a hail of missiles at a terrorist aircraft.
The awesome array of military hardware ready to thwart an attack includes four RAF Typhoon jets, three Royal Navy Sea King and two RAF Puma helicopters.
A Ministry of Defence spokesman said last night: ‘We are prepared for any eventuality.’