RAF jets scrambled in Met Police hijack training exercise

Typhoon jets were scrambled from RAF Coningsby as part of a training exercise to test the emergency services' response to a plane hijack.

The scenario was simulated on Friday night, as aircraft were scrambled from the Lincolnshire airbase to escort a passenger aircraft to London Heathrow.

Once it landed, specialist units from the Metropolitan Police boarded the 160-seater plane.

These included hostage negotiators, investigators and firearms officers.

Ch Supt Ian Howells, who leads the Met's Aviation Policing Command, said it was not carried out in response to any specific threat, but formed part of regular training to test procedures and enhance collaboration between the agencies involved.

He said: "All year round, the Met arranges and takes part in exercises to put the specialist training of officers to the test, in a range of different scenarios.

"Exercises such as this allow us to ensure that, with our partners, we are well-prepared to respond to all types of emergencies - at our airports, or elsewhere in the capital."

Called Exercise Night Star, the operation made sure everyone was prepared, RAF Coningsby Group Captain Billy Cooper said

"Ever since 9/11 there has been a focus particularly on rogue airliners and the threat that they might pose," he added.

"Of course, it could be that the worst could happen so it is absolutely critical that we are ready 24/7, 365 days a year."

RAF Typhoons are on permanent standby to respond to any potential threat in or near UK airspace.

They are regularly called upon to rapidly react to belligerent, unknown or non-communicating aircraft and frequently participate in planned training exercises.

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