LONDON (Reuters) - Britain’s controversial Olympic security procedures swung into action on Wednesday when a fighter jet was scrambled to intercept an aircraft that had entered restricted airspace.
The Typhoon jet was ordered to intercept the aircraft after it failed to contact air traffic controllers, the Ministry of Defence said.
Communications were then restored and the fighter jet told to stand down.
Olympic organisers have been criticised for militarising the Games after missile batteries were installed in residential areas around Olympic sites to guard against aerial attacks. Thousands of troops have also been deployed to secure the Games.
“We can confirm that one Typhoon launched shortly before 1130 today,” a defence ministry spokeswoman said. “This was in response to a commercial aircraft that was out of communication with air traffic control services. Communications were quickly restored. No further action was required.”
Security officials are on high alert ahead of and throughout the July 27 to August 12 Games. Experts warn that the Olympics are the type of high-profile event that could be targeted by militants. London transport bombings killed 52 people in 2005, a day after Britain found it had won the right to host the Games.
Olympic teams from countries in or near regions of political turmoil, such as the Israel, are particularly wary. This year is the 40th anniversary of the 1972 Munich Games attack by Palestinian militants that killed 11 Israeli team members.
British warships, fighter jets, surveillance aircraft and helicopters are on standby in case of security breaches.
Anti-war protesters have accused the Ministry of Defence of creating a climate of fear, and the ministry itself is trying to lower its profile.
Reporting by Mohammed Abbas; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall