Offensive Air Operations Of The Falklands War
SUBJECT AREA Aviation
WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR
Offensive Air Operations
The Flaklands War
Major Walter F. DeHoust
2 April 1984
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Marine Corps Development and Education Command
Quantico, Virginia 22134
TABLE OF CONTENTS
LIST OF FIGURES iii
1. HISTORICAL BACKGROUND 1
2. THE AIR WAR: A SUMMARY AND COMMENTARY 27
INITIAL ACTION 27
A HARRIER WAR 34
ARGENTINE TACTICS 36
THE AIR ENCOUNTERS 43
OTHER AIR OPERATIONS 70
3. ANALYSIS 80
A. CHRONOLOGY OF SIGNIFICANT EVENTS 101
B. PRINCIPAL COMBAT AIRCRAFT OF THE WAR 106
C. COMBAT LOSSES 107
LIST OF FIGURES
FIGURE 1. DISTANCES BETWEEN LOCATIONS 40
FIGURE 2. SOUTH ATLANTIC OCEAN, APPROXIMATE
POSITIONS OF SHIP SINKINGS, THE
TOTAL EXCLUSION ZONE (TEZ) AND RN
CARRIER OPERATING AREA 63
FIGURE 3. FALKLAND ISLANDS, APPROXIMATE
POSITIONS OF SHIP SINKINGS AND
PRINCIPAL SETTLEMENTS 68
I would like to thank eight of my fellow class members
for the help they volunteered, often unsolicited, in the
research of this subject. This included the lending
research materials, their own expertise and their own ideas.
Maj Mike Williams, USMC
Maj John Bouldry, USMC
Maj Ron Cruz, USMC
Maj Jon Petrie, Royal Australian Regiment
Maj Chris McDowall, Royal Marines
Maj Jim Wilson, USMC
Maj Tim Hannigan, USMC
LtCdr Jim Haggart, USN
The intent of this paper is to study the offensive air
action of the Falklands War. However, a complete analysis
of this aspect of a conflict cannot be accomplished without
reference to the other facets. Therefore, the investigation
of the air war from the offensive viewpoint also required a
look at the defensive measures of both sides as well as the
varied tactics that evolved from these measures. Little
reference, however, is made to the ground effort as this
was a conflict with two separate confrontations: the
Argentine attack of the British fleet; and, the movement of
the British ground force on Port Stanley.
This study is divided into three sections. The first
deals with the historical background. This is necessary
because it is extremely difficult to find an obvious
motivation for the battle for such a small, dreary, isolated
and seemingly unimportant area.
The second concerns the conflict itself, with an
account of the major air action involving the weapons of
offensive air power: fixed wing jet, fixed wing, and
helicopter support aircraft. Interlaced with this account
is commentary on the action, the tactics and the innovations
implemented by both sides in the pursuit of their aims.
The third section is an analysis of the major issues of
the war. It summarizes the reasons for the British victory,
a triumph that was extremely difficult to attain. It also
addresses the reasons for Argentine failure despite the fact
that the air war was so resolutely pursued by them.
There is no paucity of material on the subject especi-
ally from the British point of view. Understandably,
however, Argentine sources are scarce. The critiques of
their losing effort are probably still locked away in Buenos
Caution had to be taken since most sources were
produced with great rapidity. Books and articles were
extremely informative but, for the most part, not well
documented. Many were provided by British war correspond-
ents and even their on-the-scene accounts of the same event
conflicted. Much of the journal writings were analytical in
form, with similarity in many of the conclusions. Technical
journals provided useful information on the effects of
weapons systems; however, these had to be examined with a
watchful eye for prejudice. Many of the manufacturers of
these systems are advertisers in these publications.
Two themes seem to prevail from this study. First, the
war emphasized that human principles and nationalistic
beliefs, when challenged, are themselves likely causes for
armed conflict. Second, modern technology provides the
military with highly effective weapons systems but these
systems may only be effective when employed against the
technology they are designed to combat. Therefore, British
fleet defense weapons, designed to combat the sophisticated
Russian threat such as the Backfire and Badger, were
challenged beyond their limits by the World War II bombing
tactics employed by the Argentines.
The Falkland Islands conflict between Argentina and
Great Britain has been described as "...a quarrel between
two bald men for possession of a comb..."1 This seems an
accurate description as the islands are not noted for their
great worth, either economically or strategically. The only
industry there is sheep raising and the rolling, grassy
terrain coupled with a harsh, wintery climate lends the
islands to little other use. Off-shore oil has been
mentioned as a major motivation for British interests in
keeping the Falklands. This theory has been partly refuted
by a report of the mid-70's by Lord Shackleton of the
British Foreign Office. The report indicated that proof of
the existence of hydro-carbons had not yet been established
and even if it were, extraction in so harsh an environment
might be too costly.2
Time and changes in the world power structure have
wilted many beliefs in the strategic importance of these
islands. Great Britain's Lord Anson, the first lord of the
admiralty in the middle 1700's, felt that "even in time of
peace [the islands] might be of great consequence to this
nation and in time of war, would make us master of the
seas."3 These words reflect the belief that a port in the
Falklands would handily serve as a base of refuge and a
convenient replenishment facility for ships rounding Cape
Horn. Since Great Britain no longer covets nor is outfitted
to maintain a position of overseas maritime dominance, Lord
Anson's thesis has lost its validity in today's world.
Similarly, Argentina would not appear to gain any
strategic advantage in controlling these islands. The
presence of British citizens is not a threat to Argentina.
The historical use of the islands by the British reflects
merely a peaceful use by a small group of British
descendants who prefer their insular habitat. A perceived
threat to Argentina from the islands is ludicrous.
Conversely, its existence in this form seems a suitably safe
feature for islands 400 miles from Argentine shores.
Both Britain and Argentina have used the islands in
conjunction with Antarctic exploration but these have been
primarily scientific ventures. Both countries have reason
to covet the islands as a gateway to the Antarctic and its
mineral worth but it is not safe to assume their future
plans for the Antarctic Peninsula were motivation for the
conflict. This seems more likely to be a reason for
continued negotiation and not war.
Why then would two nations, allied by trade agreements
and with similar beliefs with respect to world order become
lethal enemies over a useless territory? A look at the
history of the islands and British/Argentine relations
provides an answer, as the series of events dating to the
late 1600's set the historical precedence for the conflict.
A British seaman, Captain John Strong, first set foot
on the Falklands in 1690. He charted the sound between the
two main islands and sailed off having made no formal claim
to the area. Spain was the principle colonial power of the
region, and twenty-three years after Strong's arrival, an
adjunct of the Treaty of Utrecht, ending the war of the
Spanish Succession, affirmed Spain's control of the
territories in the Americas.
The French disregarded the agreement however. A French
nobleman, Antoine de Bougainville, formally claimed the
islands for Louis XV in 1764. He even established a
settlement there, Port Louis, north of what is presently
Port Stanley on East Falkland.
One year later, Great Britain's Commodore John Byron,
arrived on West Falkland and, without knowledge of the
French settlement, raised the Union Jack, called the area on
which he stood Port Egmont and, like his predecessor Strong,
sailed off to continue his planned journey. One year later,
Captain John McBride was sent to consolidate Byron's claim
and discovered the French on the neighboring island.
The Spanish meanwhile, were infuriated that the Treaty
of Utrecht had been violated. After negotiations with the
French, Madrid received Port Louis in return for monetary
compensation for de Bouganville. The Frenchman was
extremely glad to be rid of his settlement for the harsh
climate and its desolation had dampened his enthusiasm for
Spain continued to enforce the Utrecht agreement by
ousting the British on West Falkland. This caused harsh
reactions within the British government. Threats of war
were made, but a year of diplomacy finally quelled the storm
and resulted in an agreement permitting the British to
return to Port Egmont.
In 1790, Britain, in what is termed the Nootka Sound
Convention, renounced any colonial ambitions in South
America and the adjacent islands of the continent.4 This
agreement was without substance, however. In the ensuing
years, the British continued to maintain a colony on the
"adjacent" Falklands. Perhaps Lord Anson's theory was still
prevalent or perhaps, even then, a strong nationalistic
feeling of "pride of ownership" caused the British to covet
control of the islands.
In 1808, Napoleon's invasion of Spain precipitated the
quest for independence of the Spanish colonies in South
America. After nearly 20 years of fighting Spanish
royalists, an independent government in Buenos Aires gained
control of the area which forms present day Argentina. With
this declared independence, Buenos Aires claimed control of
the former Spanish possession, the Malvinas Islands.
In 1823, Argentina appointed Louis Vernet, the first
governor of the Malvinas (Argentina does not recognize the
name Falklands). The British Consul in Buenos Aires,
Woodbine Parish, felt the need to re-establish Britain's
claim to the islands by protesting Vernet's appointment.
Vernet was not impressed by such protests and, in an act
demonstrating the strength he felt in his new position, he
detained an American ship, HARRIET, for alleged illegal seal
hunting. He confiscated all material aboard and returned
with the vessel to Buenos Aires. The American Consul there
took exception with this act and dispatched the U.S.S.
LEXINGTON (which sat conveniently in Buenos Aires Harbor) to
prosecute restitution. Captain Silas Duncan, in a bold and
seemingly unwarranted manner, sailed into Puerto Soledad,
recovered the confiscated material, destroyed the Argentine
guns, blew up their powder, sacked the settlement buildings,
arrested most of the inhabitants, declared the islands "free
of all government" and sailed away.5
Alerted by Parish of this turn of events, the British
returned to the Falklands in 1833 with two warships, the
TYNE and CLIO. Led by Captain James Onslow, they ousted the
Argentine settlers. Since then the Falklands have been
inhabited solely by the British.
Since the mid 1800's, the question of sovereignty of
the Falklands/Malvinas has arisen on numerous occasions.
Neither side was willing to compromise with respect to
territorial claims and the sovereignty issue. Finally the
United Nations, with resolution 2065 in 1965, directed both
to negotiate in search of an acceptable agreement.
This began what has been described as the "Seventeen
Years War", a period of inconsistent negotiations marked by
numerous changes in negotiators, mostly on the British
side. One of the first of these, Lord Caradon, a British
representative to the United Nations, succinctly stated the
British position when he said: "The interests of the
inhabitants of these islands is paramount." One year later,
his Argentine counterpart voiced his opposing position:
"There is not the least doubt that the territory of the
Falklands is much more important than the inhabitants."6
Argentina has held to her claim of sovereignty through-
out the 17 years of negotiations. Britain has, however,
changed her position to suit the policies of the reigning
political party. Negotiations taking place in 1964 by Lord
Chalfont, a Foreign Office minister, were conducted on the
premise that British "national interests overrode the
interests of the islanders."7 Later in 1966, British
Foreign Secretary Michael Stewart, toured Latin America and
recognizing the economic value of trade with the continent,
criticized the foreign service for being too enthralled with
politics at the risk of trade.
With the fall of the Harold Wilson administration in
1969, the new conservative head of the Foreign Office was
Sir Alec Douglas-Home. He officially downgraded the
importance of the UN directed talks, declared that
sovereignty would not be an issue and emphasized that the
islanders would be directly involved in any negotiations.
He appointed David Scott, the under-secretary in charge of
"dependent territories", to continue negotiations with
Buenos Aires. Scott soon realized that sovereignty was
still an issue in the eyes of the Argentines and that mere
decrees from London could not change the matter.
The Argentine position was formulated by the Foreign
Minister, the conservative, nationalistic, Nicanor Costa
Mendez. He envisioned pursuit of his country's territorial
claims as a way of strengthening his country's identity and
a means to counter the appeal of Peronism.8
Scott actually negotiated with the Argentine ambassador
to Great Britain, Edwardo McLonglin and Juan Carlos
Beltramino, an official from their embassy in London. He
proved an adept negotiator capable of putting aside the main
issue of sovereignty in the belief that improved relations
between Argentina and the Falklanders would eventually ease
the difficulty in overcoming this obstacle. Scott saw the
means to this end to be increased trade between the Islands
and Argentina, geared to improving the life style of the
Falklands' inhabitants thus, eventually lessening their
abhorance for Argentine rule.
The fruit of his efforts was the Communications Agree-
ment of 1971. This accord with Buenos Aires stipulated that
Britain would build an airstrip on East Falkland Island and
initiate a new shipping link to the islands provided that
Argentina would operate an air service to the new air-
Unfortunately, the British Foreign Office could not
honor the airport agreement because of a lack of funds
stemming from an earlier underestimation of the amount of
money necessary. The Argentines offered to lay the strip
themselves, but they needed the reinforcing steel mesh
required to support the surface of the runway. The British
obtained the required steel from the United States and
prospects for the agreement seemed bright.
In May, 1972, the Argentine naval transport, CABO SAN
GONZALO, sailed from Buenos Aires with 40 workmen and
technicians as well as 900 tons of construction and air
control equipment.10 In a move nearly as impetuous as the
pilaging of the American Silas Duncan, Sir Michael Hadow,
the British ambassador to Argentina, refused the entry of
the Argentine ship at Port Stanley. He evidently feared
that the construction crew in some way represented Argentine
accession to control of the islands.
Hadow's action raised some question within the Overseas
Development Agency of the Foreign Office in London as to the
need for a permanent airport on the islands. Despite having
signed the Communications Agreement, the British saw no
fault in changing its stipulations and eventually approved
the construction of a shorter and less expensive runway.
Even at its reduced size, the Falklanders identified the
airport and air service as merely indications of Argentina's
increasing influence on the islands.
The islanders regarded the arrival of any group of
Argentines as an incursion of their territory. The
negotiator Scott thought this sensitivity might disappear
with time; unfortunately, his assumption was not correct.
He may have begun to realize this when the planned ceremony
to open the new Port Stanley airstrip turned into a trivial
fiasco more humorous than important.
The Argentine officials proceeding on the first flight
of the air service turned out to be Argentine senior
military officers in full uniform. Hearing of this, the
Falkland Islands' governor, Toby Lewis, was ordered to hoist
the Union Jack and appear at the ceremony himself in full-
dress gubernatorial regalia. The islanders themselves
feared that ceremonially clad Argentines represented a
covert invasion, perhaps even supported by the British
Foreign Office. The islands' secretary, John Laing felt a
demonstration was likely and called out the Marine guard,
apermanent detachment of military stationed on the Falklands
to maintain order. Scott's hopes that relations between the
islanders and the Argentines would improve must have been
dampened as this attempt at a positive step forward fell
victim to unfounded fears.
This incident in part indicated the problems in
negotiations to solve the Falklands' dispute. There were
actually three parties involved, the two countries and the
islanders themselves. The British government supported by
British public opinion, declared that sovereignty should
never be relinquished. Their argument for retention of the
islands was threefold:
1st - Great Britain was first to discover the islands.
2nd - British subjects were the sole occupants there-
fore the doctrine of perscription applied.
3rd - Self-determination of the islanders, two-thirds
indigenous, dictated British sovereignty.11
Argentina's arguments stemmed from their right to
ownership as heir to Spanish colonial possessions and to
colonize them, the Treaty of Utrecht, the Nootka Sound
Accord and their belief in territorial integrity, an
interpretation of the wording of Article 2.4 of the United
The Falklanders themselves play a key role only because
the British choose that they should do so. Their plight is
a great concern to homeland Britains who believe their right
to self-determination can never be abandoned. This feeling
is mostly nurtured by the British government, using it as an
argument in negotiation but also in soliciting support from
The events of March and April 1982, leading to the
conflict seemed to illogically gather momentum without
sufficient cause. In mid March, 1982, an Argentine scrap
metal agent, Constantino Davidoff, arrived at Leith, on
South Georgia, aboard the Argentine Navy transport BAHIA
BUEN SUCESO accompanied by 41 Argentine civilians and 80
tons of equipment. His intent was to remove for scrap the
remainder of an old whaling station, abandoned in 1965,
honoring a previous contractual agreement with a shipping
firm, Christian Salvesen.13 Davidoff had obtained
permission to do so from the British Embassy with the
stipulation that the expedition obtain further go-ahead from
the British Antarctic Survey base on the island. For some
unknown reason, the party failed to contact the British base
and in the process of setting up for work one of the workers
hoisted the Argentine national flag.
Arguments abound as to the intent (or lack thereof) of
the flag raising incident. One contention is that it was a
"...navy-inspired gesture intended as a privation to
Britain..."14 Another view postulates that it was a
..."merely spontaneous show of nationalistic verve,"15 the
position earnestly supported by Davidoff. Whatever the
content, the British chose to think the worst. They were
"put off" by the incident and when Rex Hunt, the British
governor at Port Stanley was informed, he immediately
demanded that the Argentines get proper authorization and
that they take down their flag. They agreed to the first
requirement but refused to remove the latter, making one
wonder -- had the flag been lowered, there might not have
been a war.
Nevertheless, the years of unproductive negotiation
between the two governments had established irreversible
feelings of mistrust. The British ordered the Argentines to
leave and the Royal Navy ice patrol ship ENDURANCE was
dispatched to the area.
The dispatch of the ENDURANCE was significant in two
respects. It delayed activation of the British Defence
Ministry's plan to remove the ENDURANCE from service as part
of naval cutbacks.16 It also greatly surprised the
Argentines who, believed there would never be a serious
confrontation with the British.17
Argentina in fact had developed a plan for an invasion
of the Falklands in the late 1960's. This plan was thought
to be realistic because of the success of the Indian
government's military invasion of Portuguese GOA in 1961.
India's operaton had taken place without condemnation from
other countries leading some Argentines, especially naval
officer Jorge Anaya, to believe a similar act, based on
territorial integrity, could be carried out in the
Falklands. This plan was originally conceived by then
Captain Jorge Anaya, who, at the time of the Argentine
invasion in 1982, had risen to the rank of Admiral and was
the ranking officer of the Argentine Navy and a member of
the ruling Junta.
The plan was simple. It included in sequential order a
surprise landing on the islands, the removal of all of the
inhabitants, their transport to Montevideo and their
replacement with Argentine settlers. In a naive comparison
with the 19th Century, the Argentines reasoned the
Britishhad taken similar actions in 1833!
There is speculation that the ruling Argentine Junta,
plagued by internal unrest, economic woes including
inflation and a threatened labor strike, had planned to
activate the plan sometime between July and October
1982.18 The unexpected sequence of events in March
supposedly caused them to take advantage of this opportunity
and launch their operation ahead of schedule.
This idea is denied by General Galtieri, the leader of
the Junta. He refused to admit any plan for invasion
existed and rejected any idea that public discontent with
his military regime prompted the invasion as a diversionary
tactic. Galtieri's explanation was that the incident on
South Georgia in March sparked the Argentine invasion, with
their sole aim to merely shock the British into negotiating
more seriously about the Falklands.19
When the Argentine intelligence discovered the movement
of the ENDURANCE, the Junta responded by diverting the navy
auxiliary polar supply ship, BAHIA PARAISO to waters near
South Georgia. If necessary, she would come to the aid of
the Argentine civilians. A Marine detachment was aboard to
carry out this mission and, with the ENDURANCE on its way
carrying its own Marines, the threat of a confrontation on
South Georgia became a reality. Two other Argentine ships,
the missile corvettes DRUMMOND and GRANVILLE, were sent in
support of the BAHIA PARAISO. In Argentina, leave was
cancelled for Argentine sailors and a build-up of stores
commenced at the major naval and air bases of Puerto
Belgrano and Comodora Rivadavia.
British intelligence noted these actions. Prime
Minister Thatcher's cabinet discussed the situation and
agreed to send three submarines to the South Atlantic
immediately. The cabinet still hoped to avert a confronta-
tion and felt these submarines would provide a sufficient
deterrent for any planned Naval actions by Argentina.
The Argentines also acted swiftly. If an invasion was
to be successful and relatively unopposed, it could not wait
for the British to re-inforce the Falklands' garrison. Two
naval task forces were assembled in late March; Task Force
40 would capture Port Stanley, with Task Force 20 in
support. Task Force 40 was to gain control of the airport
and civilian populace. Rear Admiral Carlos Busser,
Commander of the Landing Force, instructed his Marines that
their mission should be carried out "without death or
destruction if possible."20 The Argentines were also
concerned about the Falklanders and it has been said that a
court-martial would be awarded to any Argentine soldier
injuring a civilian.21 The Argentine hope was to quickly
overwhelm the British defenders by sheer advantage in
The Task Force proceeded south on 28 March. Nineteen
U.S.-built LVTP's were to be the primary landing craft and
were embarked aboard an LST. But weather became a problem,
the Argentine ships ran into heavy seas set in motion by 40
knot winds. The speed of the ships had to be slowed and the
time of the landing delayed by one day.
Any thought of a surprise invasion was negated by a
series of events which alerted the British garrison on the
island. The LVTP's were embarked aboard their carrier at
night to avoid detection but the event was either leaked to
or discovered by the Argentine press which immediately
published the occurrence.22 The movement of the Argentine
fleet was also discovered and Governor Hunt was appraised of
the situation. In a classic of British wit and under-
statement, he informed the Royal Marine officers in charge
of the Falklands' detachment of the impending invasion with
the words, "It looks like the buggers really mean it." The
Argentines also abandoned the use of emissions control
procedures enroute and resorted to full power ship-to-ship
broadcasts a day before the invasion, making their movement
and intentions easy to interpret.23
Once the Argentines began their invasion, on April
2,British response in the Falklands area could only be
directed at delaying the inevitable. The usual detachment
of 40 Marines stood as doubled, only because one unit was
being relieved on a scheduled rotation. The British
wereable to delay the progress of the invasion, holding off
anArgentine Battalion of approximately 700 men for a period
of three hours from the time of the initial landing until
they finally surrendered. The British suffered but one
serious casualty while the Argentines lost two men.24
Meanwhile, the British detachment of 23 men landed from
the ENDURANCE on South Georgia was to soon be challenged by
the Argentines. The BAHIA PARAISO at Leith with its
embarked detachment of 45 Marines, prepared to take control
of the island. This was strategically important to the
Argentines for any future control of the Falklands would be
difficult if the British could establish a base of operation
just 200 miles to the east.
The British detachment's commander, Lieutenant Keith
Mills, faced an unenviable task. He had received confusing
orders on his mission: on the one hand, he was to shoot
only in self-defense; on the other, he was not to
surrender.25 Faced with this seeming contradiction of
fighting man's logic, Lieutenant Mills prepared for the
On the morning of April 3, a reconnaissance flight was
conducted over the island by an Argentine Alouette
helicopter. The British must have been amply camouflaged,
as the flight returned reporting no indications of British
movement. Captain Alfredo Astiz, the Argentine commander
radioed news of the Falklands surrender and urged the
British detachment to do the same. With no response, he
proceeded with his own small invasion. Argentine Marines
were transported to shore, 15 at a time, by Puma
helicopter. The second wave was about to be landed when the
British troops opened fire, downing the Puma. Two
Argentines were killed in the crash and the aircraft
The Royal Marines also opened fire on the support ship
GUERRICO, hitting it on her port side with three anti-tank
missiles and small arms fire.26 The British pursued their
defense with great fervor, holding off a superior size force
for two hours before surrendering. For his efforts,
Lieutenant Mills received the Distinguished Service Cross.
With the events of April 2 and 3 1982, the seventeen
years of attempted negotiations collapsed. Two skirmishes
had already occurred and the major battle was soon to come.
The history of the Falklands/Malvinas shows these
islands to have inexplicably created problems of greater
intensity than their worth. Early explorers and adventurers
who lived there thought the place a cruel and unforgiving
wasteland, but still two countries haggled for centuries
over their possession. From their discovery, these islands
seem to have been a catalyst for chest-heaving nationalism
on the part of both Great Britain and Argentina. To the
Argentines, the British took what was rightfully theirs; to
the British, years of inhabitation by a handful of British
descendants validated their claim to islands 8,000 miles
from British shores.
Actually, the islands represent nothing of worth to
either side; therefore, they are nearly irrelevant as
territory in the dispute. What is important is that they
have evolved into a symbol of national honor for both sides
and symbolism in world conflicts often transcends strategic
or economic worth.
The early confrontations of British and Spanish and
later British and Argentines, as well as years of half-
hearted negotiation sparked by constantly changing political
importance, were preludes to an unexpected war. Early
confrontations were maritime in nature but the latest and
most serious brought into play the three prominent aspects
of conventional warfare; air, sea and land forces.
Of these, some of the most intense encounters, the most
damaging events for both sides and many of the keys to
victory are found in the air war. The Argentines did not
pursue a ground defense of great intensity and the sea
battles expected by the British never materialized.
A chronology of the air war follows. It accounts for
all aspects of offensive air operations on both sides;
tactical jet, fixed wing support and helicopter support
operations. It illustrates the constraints on warfare
imposed when the conflict is of a sudden nature. Both
combatants found themselves in a "come as you are" battle
they didn't expect and, therefore, had to fight with what
was available to them at the time.
This required much guide on the part of both sides.
They modified the available aircraft to fit their immediate
needs. they used some aircraft in other than the intended
employment to alleviate shortcomings. This ingenuity was
complimented by an unrelenting resolve on the part of both
combatants to secure victory.
1Simon Collier, "The First Falklands War? Argentine
Attitudes," International Affairs, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Summer
1983): p. 459.
2Peter J. Beck, "Britian's Antarctic Dimension,"
International Affairs, p. 438.
3Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, The Battle for the
Falklands, (New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1983), p. 6.
4Peter Calvert, "Sovereignty and the Falklands
Crisis," International Affairs, Vol. 59, No. 3
(Summer 1983): p. 410.
5Hastings, Falklands War, p. 5.
6Ibid., p. 15.
7Ibid., p. 16.
8Ibid., p. 17.
9Ibid., p. 22.
10Ibid., p. 25.
11Ibid., p. 38.
12Denzil Dunnet, "Self-Determination and the
Falklands," International Affairs, Vol. 59, No. 3
(Summer 1983): p. 425; Calvert, Sovereignty, p. 410.
13Hastings, Falklands War, p. 54.
14S.Robert Eliot, "A Strategic Assessment of the
Falklands War," in War in the Eighties: Men Against
High Tech, ed. Brian MacDonald (The Canadian Institute
of Strategic Studies, 1983), p. 5.
15Robert L. Scheina, "The Malvinas Campaign,"
U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, (Naval Review 1983):
16Hastings, Falklands War, p. 43.
17Los Nombres de la Derrota, cited by Simon Collier,
The First Falklands War?, p. 461.
18Hastings, Falklands War, p. 31.
19Collier, International Affairs, p. 461.
20Scheina, Proceedings, p. 100.
21Hastings, Falklands War, p. 73.
22Scheina, Proceedings, p. 101.
23Hastings, Falklands War, p. 72.
24Ibid., p. 73.
25Ibid., p. 74.
26Scheina, Proceedings, p. 103.
The Air War - Summary and Commentary
The Argentine Air Force initiatied the pre-conflict air
action with C-130 reconnaissance flights over the islands in
March 1982. Later the Argentines used not only C-130's but
B-707's, Lear Jets, Fokker F-27's and P-2 Neptunes all in a
reconnaissance role unsuitable to the design of the air-
craft. They also had S-2 aircraft, more combatable with
this mission, but they were not used extensively because of
unreliable radar. "Reconnaissance aircraft" were assigned
to Air Exploration and Reconnaissance Group-1, significant
because it was formed in April, after the British Task Force
was already enroute to the South Atlantic.1 The work of
the group continued throughout the war both in reconnais-
sance and pathf inding roles. One C-130 and one Lear Jet
were lost to Sea Harrier fire while attempting to survey the
British fleet. Several B-707's used in a deep reconnais-
sance role were also intercepted but not fired upon by Sea
Harriers as the British ships transited the Atlantic.2
On April 3, the first helicopter action in the war
occurred, again initiated by the Argentines. They used the
Puma for troop inserts on South Georgia with a Navy Alouette
conducting pre-assault reconnaissance. This Puma was the
first casualty of the war, succumbing to small arms fire
from Royal Marines. Two Argentine Marines were killed in
Throughout April, Argentine transports, mainly C-130
Hercules, flew continuously to build up the size of the
force and the amount of equipment on the Falklands. Their
efforts were highly efficient. An aircraft landed at the
Port Stanley Airfield every two hours with turnarounds on
the ground taking only 30 minutes.4
OPERATION PARAQUAT, the British plan to re-take South
Georgia brought the first British air action and also her
first aircraft losses. On April 21, two Wessex HU.5's
landed SAS patrols on Fortuna Glacier. Severe weather
necessitated the extraction of the patrol, the following
day; however, both Wessex were lost while attempting to take
off in white-out conditions. In continued deplorable
weather to include 100 mph winds, another Wessex, nicknamed
"Humphrey", successfully made three trips from its ship, HMS
ANTRIM to the Glacier and recovered the reconnaissance
The work of "Humphrey" was not done. On April 25, she
commenced the search for, and successfully discovered, the
Argentine submarine SANTA FE. After dropping two depth
charges, three additional helos joined the action with two
Wasps from the ships ENDURANCE and PLYMOUTH damaging the
submarine with wire guided missiles.
"Humphrey" continued in action by putting troops ashore
on South Georgia. The Argentines were to have their revenge
however, as later in the war ANTRIM would be hit by air
attacks with "Humphrey" being pelted by fire from an A-4
Another British initiative, and one showing their
talent for improvisation, was the use of the Vulcan for
bombing attacks primarily directed at the Port Stanley air
facility. These attacks originated from Ascension Island,
the British "stationary carrier" in the Atlantic. The
flight from Ascension to the Falklands was 3,800 miles and
required extensive in-flight refueling from Hadley Page
"Victor" aircraft. The British, however, had not exercised
aerial refuel of the Vulcan since 1967 and much of the probe
hardware and interior plumbing had deteriorated over time.
Ten Vulcan B-2's were selected from available assets
and hastily but successfully prepared for their mission.
Spare parts were found to be a great problem. The solution
was "cannibalization" from other Vulcans, including museum
pieces. Five of the originally selected ten aircraft were
assigned to Falklands' service and the others retained as
backups. These five were outfitted with inertial navigation
systems purchased from British Airways. They were also
modified to accept an electronic countermeasures pod used to
jam Argentine anti-aircraft artillery radars. Crews from
the Royal Air Force were specially selected for the mission.
Thus, within five days of the inception of the plan to use
the Vulcans, the pilots were actively engaged in bombing and
The first two Vulcans arrived at Ascension on April 29.
Their operations, code-named BLACK BUCK began on May 1. The
flight from Ascension to the Falklands required ten Victors
for refueling, the last "plug-in" occurring 300 miles from
the Falklands to insure the capability to fly a good portion
of the return trip without refueling. Additionally, the
aircraft would have the fuel to divert to Brazil in case of
difficulties. Four additional refueling engagements were
necessary on the return trip and the Victor tankers also had
to pass fuel between each other to insure rendezvous with
the bombers and their own return.
BLACK BUCK 1 was intended to be a two bomber mission;
however, the primary aircraft was forced to abort and the
reserve completed the mission. The vulcan carried 21 one
thousand pound iron bombs and flew a high, low, high
profile, proceeding to the area at 25,000 feet, dropping to
250 feet to avoid Argentine radar and then climbing to
10,000 feet for bomb jettison. The first bombing of Port
Stanley airfield took place at 4 A.M. on May 1, with only
one of the 21 bombs scoring a direct hit on the runway. The
British Vulcan pilots had to reach an acceptable level of
skill in both aerial refueling and bombing with only three
weeks to train. They had evidently become proficient in
refueling but still lacked the skills necessary to bomb a
target effectively at night.
The second BLACK BUCK raid took place on May 4, with a
slightly different profile. The aircraft ingressed at
16,000 feet and dropping its payload from that altitude.
These bombs had a more scattered pattern and damage to the
runway was not discernible. The third raid, scheduled for
May 13, was aborted due to poor weather enroute.
After the first BLACK BUCK raids, the British became
concerned with the Argentine radar on the Falklands. They
again modified two aircraft (reserves in Great Britain) to
handle at first the MARTEL AS.37 anti-radar missile and then
the Naval Weapons Center - Texas Instrument AGM-45A Shrike.
The latter was chosen as it had proven itself during
Viet Nam, while questions arose as to the former's ability
to function after an eight hour flight at 25,000 feet.
Planned attacks on Argentine radar were to take place
on May 28, May 31 and June 2. BLACK BUCK 4 was aborted due
to damage to the Victor refuler's probe. BLACK BUCK 5
arrived in the target area and Shrikes were fired. However,
the Argentines had resorted to a successful tactic of the
North Vietnamese: after detecting the inbound aircraft on
radar, they simply shut down the radar negating the ARM's
effectiveness. Any damage inflicted by the Shrikes was
never verified. BLACK BUCK 6 also encountered refuel probe
problems with the tip of the Vulcan's probe breaking off
during the attempt to engage the drogue. The Vulcan had to
divert to neutral but anti-Argentine Brazil where the
aircraft and crew were delayed a week and the Shrike
confiscated.6 The last BLACK BUCK raid, on June 11, again
had the airfield as target with unreported results.
There are mixed opinions as to the purpose or success
of the Vulcan raids. To the British, the raids were
fruitful, especially the first, in which the airfield at
Port Stanley was cratered. They believed that the
Argentines intended to operate Mirage III's and perhaps
Super Etendard's from the airfield and the cratering by the
Vulcans iron bombs prevented such use. Had the Mirages
operated from Port Stanley to carry out its intended mission
of intercepting the Vulcans7, substantial loss of the
bombers may have been incurred.
However, the success of BLACK BUCK can be at best
described as minimal. The seven attempted missions
included three aborts, three of undetermined results and one
of minimal success (the first). The runway was continually
used by Argentine C-130's until the end of the war. The
Argentines would leave the runway covered with piles of dirt
during the day causing British intelligence to surmise that
repairs were still in progress. This deception mislead the
British as to the condition of the airfield and the success
of their raids.
The most critical judgment of the use of the Vulcan
centers on the argument that their use was "...largely to
prove [the air force] had some role to play and not to help
the battle in the least."8 This illustrates the practice
of armed services to actively seek a "piece of the action"
when a conflict arises, even if their capabilities or
mission are not compatible with the circumstances of the
conflict. Using BLACK BUCK as an example shows the effects
of this practice can be trivial and the results not worth
the effort involved.
A HARRIER WAR
The performance of British Harriers has been highly
praised and publicized. The versatility of this aircraft
solved one of the greatest problems facing the British: the
provision for fleet air cover. Protection of the fleet was
most worrisome as the Royal Navy had, because of budget
cuts, relinquished a need for large carriers and the
airborne early warning/fighter support that could be
provided by the large platforms. The British had pursued
this program from the mid-sixties, with Jon Knott, Defense
Minister at the time of the Falklands crisis, a staunch
proponent of the reductions.
Justification for the tailoring was not only monetary
but linked to perceptions of British strategy. The
possibility of Great Britain ever undertaking a conflict
outside the range of their own land-based air cover (without
allied support) was considered extremely remote.9 The
future of the Royal Navy would be concerned predominately
with her NATO role, particularly as an anti-submarine
warfare force against the Soviets.
Lacking carrier support left the responsibility of
fleet defense with the Sea Harrier, and-the Royal Navy had
only thirty-four of these aircraft. They were able to
transport twenty-eight of these to the South Atlantic.
The British, and reasonably so, feared the superiority in
numbers of the Argentine air assets, estimated to be between
150 and 200 aircraft10; however, they were limited in the
possible alternatives to increase the number of tactical
aircraft in the South Atlantic.
Their solution was the conversion of the Royal Air
Force's Harrier GR-3's. This aircraft, designed for a close
air support role, was not outfitted as an air defense weapon
system. They were, however, in the process of being phased
out so were readily available for modification. An air-to-
air weapon capability had to be incorporated. This was
accomplished by installing hardware to accommodate the the
Sidewinder on the outboard pylons. However, the most rapid
method to make the wiring modification left the GR-3
incapable of carrying any other weapon system.
The GR-3 inertial navigation system was also unsuit-
able for operations on the pitching deck of a ship, for
accurate alignment was impossible. But again British
ingenuity came to the forefront. Ferranti, the manufacturer
of the original system, quickly developed a reference
system named FINRAE which would assist the GR-3 in shipboard
alignment. This system was merely an aid, but not the cure
for this problem. The GR-3 was now able to depart the ship
and return safely but pilots still had to rely on the
compass and time/distance checks as well as rudimentary
weapon-aiming to carry out their mission. The exact number
of GR-3's that were modified has not been specified;
however, a total of twelve can be accounted for as reaching
the Falklands, although four of those arrived after
hostilities had ceased.11
The Sea Harrier itself was not without problems in its
role of fleet defense. Its pulse radar was designed to find
the Russian Bear at altitudes of 5,000 feet or more and was
not suited to acquire low flying aircraft over water. When
flying over land, ground clutter also rendered the radar
useless. Furthermore, acquisiton required a cue from an
additional source (airborne early warning) and the British
did not have this capability. Harrier pilots did employ a
look-down, shoot-down tactic but they did so by visually
acquiring the target and not using radar.12
The Argentines quickly realized after their first
attacks on the British fleet that they would have to fly
low and fast if they were to survive the threat of anti-
aircraft guns, missiles and Harriers with their AIM 9-L's.
Above 50 feet, the pilots felt they could be shot down.
However, when they dropped below 50 feet, their bombs did
not have time to arm. Even at 50 feet salt spray blocked
the ability to see through their gunsights. To overcome
this, pilots drew two lines on their windscreens, bracketing
the ship between the lines on ingress and releasing their
bombs as the ship passed under the nose of the aircraft.13
They also proceeded inbound at nearly 500 knots a speed
which made accurate bombing extremely difficult but also
increased their chances of survival for pilot and aircraft.
The Argentines concentrated their air planning efforts
against aircraft carriers, logistics support ships, ships
close to land, enemy aircraft and finally frigates and
destroyers.14 Their attack aircraft were armed with iron
bombs in the case of the A-4, Mirage V and Canberra, and
Exocet missiles in the case of the Super Etendard. The
British concentrated, as previously mentioned, on destroying
Argentine aircraft and were armed with the AIM 9L air-to-air
These priorities gave the British the edge as the
Argentine aircraft, especially the often used A-4 heavily
laden with bombs and fuel, were not configured for an air
engagement with Harriers outfitted for such encounters.
Argentine Navy A-4 pilot, Captain de Corbeta Alberto Jorge
Phillipe, described their predicament as follows:
We found ourselves in a disadvantage;
it was impossible to combat against the
Harriers. Not because they were tremendously
superior to our A-4's but because we carried
a heavy cargo of bombs and fuel on a clean
The Argentines attempted to use Mirage III's in the
escort role, but this proved to be unsuccessful. This
aircraft is best suited for maneuvering at high altitude
while the Harrier is more efficient below 10,000 feet.
Tactics in the Falklands saw Mirage III's operating at
20,000 feet or more while attempting to provide cover for
attack aircraft proceeding to the target at much lower
levels. With the attack aircraft they were supposed to
cover flying low, the Mirage pilots were forced to descend
into the lower regime most favorable to the Harrier to carry
out their fleet defense mission. When they did so, the
British took full advantage of the situation. A description
of an engagement on May 1 illustrates this:
Captain Gustavo Cuerva and his wingman,
ler Ten. Carlos Perona received information
from Falklands/Malvinas radar that there were
Sea Harriers at twelve o'clock. Cuerva spotted
two Sea Harriers and fired two missiles which
missed. The Harriers then curved around and
fired their Sidewinders - one exploded near
Cuerva causing sever damage.... Perona's Mirage
was hit by the missile from the second Harrier
and the aircraft exploded into a ball of
flames.... On the sixth mission of the day
Jose Ardiles was killed in his Mirage by a
Sidewinder from another Sea Harrier. As a
result of these heavy losses...it was decided
to pull the Mirage III's back to the mainland
to stand alert for a possible Vulcan attack...16
The Mirage III's utilization was curtailed for the most
part after their first costly encounters with the Harrier.
They were then assigned to protect the mainland from British
Vulcan attack, a largely useless employment as the British
felt it in their best interests not to agitate world opinion
with any such encroachment of the Argente mainland.17
The distance to the war from the mainland also placed
the Argentines at a severe disadvantage. The British
carrier strength was limited with only two platforms, the
HERMES and the INVINCIBLE, available for the conflict; but
these compensated for the extreme distance of the Falklands
from Britain. The carriers brought the Harriers closer to
the battle and provided a means of refueling and maintaining
them which, in part, overcame the Argentine advantage in
numbers. The Sea Harriers were able to fly about six
sorties a day of approximately 90 minutes each. They
alsomaintained an 80% availability rate18 attributable as
much to the skill of the aircraft mechanics as the
durability of the aircraft itself.Fortunately for the
Argentines, there existed sufficient airfields on their
southern coast to use in prosecuting their attackers. Even
with the locations of the most used airfields, San Julian,
Santa Cruz, Rio Gallegos, Rio Grande, Ushuaia and Comodora
Rivadivia, Argentine pilots, especially those in the A-4,
were repeatedly close to their limits of endurance. A
Click here to view image
contributory problem was the Air Force's lack of refuelers.
They had only two KC-l30's in their inventory. Furthermore,
three of their aircraft, the Mirage III, Mirage V and
Canberra could not accept fuel in flight. They could
however, carry external fuel stores, but this reduced the
weapons they could carry.
The Argentines were then forced to fly very precise
routes as even those aircraft that could refuel were limited
in flexibility because of the lack of tankers. This tended
to make their attack routes predictable, an advantage to the
Harrier pilots using visual search. The Harriers would wait
for incoming aircraft at points on the north and south
coasts of West Falkland, landfalls used by the low-flying
attackers to check their navigation. More often than not
the Argentines flew to these points and the Harriers awaited
By far, the most successful Argentine attacks were
accomplished by A-4's and Super Etendards. Their tactics
differed because of aircraft weaponry and British air
defense. The Skyhawks used World War II low level bombing
tactics with the idea that numbers were needed to overwhelm
the British anti-air missiles and artillery. They modified
their approach somewhat with the experiences of the first
encounters of the war. The theory prior to the confict soon
changed; initially it was
"imperative to each missilistic frigate -
or similar ship - with a minimum of seven
aircraft, in order to be able to succeed.
[Later]...our modest experience informed
us that the most practical, economic and
effective attack unit demanded the use of
only three aircraft..."19
The Etendards, armed with the Exocet missile which
could be fired from a stand off position, flew more
circuitous routes. They utilized in-flight refuel, path-
finding and target identification from the P-2 Neptune
followed by a low level attack from twenty miles or more to
achieve surprise. Both Skyhawk and Etendard tactics proved
successful. Their ability to surprise the British fleet
became a great concern for their adversary.
So too was the determination and bravery of the
Argentine pilots who flew the missions. The Argentines
could expect considerable losses on each attack but this did
not seem to quell their resolve. As an Argentine pilot,
Major Juan Sapolski recalled:
We knew the prospects of successfully
hitting the targets were good but the
prospects of returning were dim. So,
we could say that the only impulse we
had was to strike, strike and strike
as many times as we could. This spirit
of attack ... was an innate condition,
a natural condition, brought about by
our sense of duty.20
So the setting for the air war was established. The
Argentines pursuing the British fleet at low level, the Sea
Harriers attempting to protect the fleet with a paucity of
THE AIR ENCOUNTERS
Action May 1
The first encounter involving both air arms occurred on
May 1. After the British had bombed Port Stanley airfield
and Goose Green airstrip, the Argentines attempted to
retaliate. They launched attacks by both Mirage V's
escorted by Mirage III's (as previously noted) and Canberra
bombers. Grupo 8 de Caza of the Fuerza Aerea Argentina
(hereto referred to as FAA) launched six flights of two
Mirage III's each to escort Mirage V's. The Mirage pilots
faced numerous problems. The weather was marginal and the
pilots were concerned with the runway length at Rio Grande,
the origin airfield. Normally the runway for the Mirage is
2500 meters and is equipped with arresting gear. The runway
at Rio Grande was only 2000 meters with no arresting cable
installed. The mission profile for the M-III's called for
ingress at 25,000 feet, giving them twelve minutes maximum
time on station allowing for 50 knot winds enroute. Winds
encountered on May 1 were up to 110 knots thus making their
return trip difficult.21
Despite these shortcomings the launch was successful.
The Mirages coordinated with Argentine radar on the
Falklands as they approached the islands. Falklands radar
identified enemy aircraft four times enroute and each time
the Argentine aircraft passed above the Harriers. Captain
Gustavo Cuerva and his wingman, ler Ten. Carlos Perona,
were the first of their flight to encounter the British
aircraft. Their description of the battle has previously
been related (see Footnote 16). They fired two MATRA R.530
missiles which missed their targets. The British
Sidewinders were more successful, destroying both Argentine
aircraft. Lt. Dave Smith of the Royal Navy's 800 Squadron
based on the HERMES explained the failure of the Argentine
missiles. The MATRA's utilized were semi-active, radar
guided AAM's. Once launched, they must be guided to the
target by the firing source, usually with the aircraft's
fire control radar.22 In this case, "the Argentine pilots
broke away rather than continuing to illuminate their
targets until impact."23 This engagement was felt by the
British to be "the closest thing to a dog-fight in the whole
operation."24 After this, attacking Argentine aircraft
jettisoned their bombs to increase maneuverability and
turned away rather than engage the Harriers.25
Missions were also flown on May 1 by Canberras from
1 Escuadron de Bonbardeo in an attempt to bomb the British
Task Force. Captain Alberto Boigorri was on the first
Canberra mission. Six aircrat departed Trelew, on the
southeastern coast of Argentina, in two flights of three
aircraft each. He related his experience that day as
About 250 miles from the target the #3
in the flight called a missile headed my
way - I looked toward the right and saw
the missile hit the #2 aircraft... The
bomber continued off my right wing with an
engine in flames as it started down - I saw
them both eject before it hit the water.
Above I saw the Sea Harrier looking to see
whose turn it was next! I broke right and
told my #3 to break left ... I saw the Sea
Harrier above us but apparently it could
not see us on its radar screen so we got out
of there. After making sure the Sea Harrier
was not around, we turned around and tried
to locate the pilot and navigator but we
could not find them - they were lost.26
As a result of the action on May 1, the Canberras, like
the Mirage III's, found the maneuvering against the Sea
Harriers to be beyond their capability. They changed
tactics, and were subsequently employed mostly at night
against the ships farthest from the islands dropping their
1,000 pound bombs from 500 feet.27 This tactic was, for
the most part, unsuccessful.
Action May 4
After May 1, the fixed-wing air war was basically a
three aircraft affair with A-4's and Super Etendards pitted
against the Harrier. The British first felt the sting of
the Argentine assaults on May 4, when the destroyer HMS
SHEFFIELD was sunk. A Neptune P2V ASW patrol aircraft
detected the electronic emissions of a destroyer 100 miles
south of Port Stanley and approximately 380 miles east of
Rio Grande Naval Air Base. Two Super Etendards, each armed
with an Exocet missile and flown by Captain de corbeta
Augusto Bedacarratz and Ten. de navio Armando Magora
launched from Rio Grande. They flew a straight course to
their target at low level, refueling fifteen minutes into
the flight. The weather deteriorated as they progressed
with the ceiling reduced to 500 feet and the visibility only
300 feet. Forty-five minutes into the flight they received
a target update from the Neptune. Two medium sized ships
and one larger one were 155 miles away. The Neptune
signaled the Etendards when they were within proper range to
pop-up to radar acquiring altitude to detect and lock on the
ships. The Etendard's Agave radar designated the target and
passed the range to the Exocet before the attack. Once
launched, the missile tracked to its target using its active
The missiles were fired at a range of between 20 and 30
nautical miles, with one penetrating the side of the
SHEFFIELD. The SHEFFIELD was using a satellite communica-
tions system to protect against radio direction-finding by
the Argentines. Unfortunately, use of this radio precluded
use of its countermeasures warning gear which had
momentarily been turned off. Consequently, the SHEFFIELD
did not activate a CHAFF screen as did her escort as the
Exocet approached.28 The missile penetrated the SHEFFIELD
damaging vital electrical power, communications, lighting
and fire fighting equipment. Strangely enough, the warhead
failed to explode. The residual fuel from the rocket motor
is thought to have caused the fire which eventually led to
the destruction and loss of the ship.29
The sinking of the SHEFFIELD by Etendards exemplified
the ingenuity of the Argentine Navy; this occurred not so
much in the planning of the mission but because they were
able to operate the aircraft at all in the conflict. The
Argentines had been training in the Etendard since 1980.
Their pilots had utilized French flight trainers between
November 1980 and August 1981, but they had received only 45
hours of actual flight time in the aircraft. Between August
and November 1981, five Super Etendards and five Exocets
were shipped to Argentina; only in December 1981 did
Argentine pilots begin flying the aircraft. They flew
mostly test flights during the first two months of 1982.
Finally on March 30, the commander of the first Etendard
Squadron, Captain de fragata Jorge Colombo, was ordered to
make the weapons system operational. The task was not easy
as France, in agreement with the sanctions of the European
Economic Community against Argentina, had terminated export
of the aircraft along with associated support. The French
technicians in Argentina were no longer allowed to advise
the Armada. Captain Colombo and his men were required to
interpret French manuals to integrate the Exocet. Even
though they had flown in France, none of the pilots had ever
operated the Super Etendard's attack system.30
The British also suffered the loss of their first Sea
Harrier on May 4. Lt.Cdr. "Nick" Taylor was shot down by
ground fire while attacking the Goose Green airstrip. The
Argentines had been using the airstrip since April as an
operating base for their PUCARA aircraft.
Action 9-12 May
Although primarily utilized in the air-to-air role, Sea
Harriers were also used against surface vessels. The
British had announced a 200 mile radius maritime exclusion
zone around the Falklands to become effective on April 12.
On May 1, the blockade was expanded with the declaration of
a Total Exclusion Zone (TEZ). In the interests of protect-
ing the fleet and enforcing the Total Exclusion Zone, Sea
Harriers strafed and bombed numerous vessels utilizing both
cannon fire and bombs.
On May 9, the Argentine commerctal trawler NARWAL, also
referred to as an intelligence gathering ship by British
sources31, was strafed and sunk by a Sea Harrier piloted
by Flight Lieutenant David Morgan. The trawler had been
sighted by a British frigate ten days earlier and warned to
leave the area. The NARWAL remained in trace of Her
Majesty's fleet, evidently for intelligence gathering
purposes, and Morgan was ordered to engage her. He bombed
and strafed the target, then boarded the craft with a
detachment of Royal Marines transported via helicopter.
Thirty Argentines were fround aboard, among them an
Argentine Navy lieutenant commander believed to be an
On May 10, another Argentine vessel, the RIO CARCAMIA,
moored in Port Rey, was attacked by Sea Harriers and had to
be abandoned. The ship was re-attacked on May 16, and
sunk. Another ship, the transport BAHIA BUEN SUCESO, which
had run aground in Zorro Bay, following a severe storm, was
considerably damaged by attacking Harriers.
On May 12, the Argentines resumed the offensive, when
two waves of A-4 Skyhawks attacked HM's ships BRILLIANT and
GLASGOW. These ships were deployed together as part of a
revised plan for ship defense. A type 42 destroyer, such as
BRILLIANT, was armed with the Sea Dart anti-aircraft missile
with an effective range up to 40 miles. It was, however,
extremely vulnerable to low level attack which this system
could not detect. The type 42 was therefore paired with a
Type 22 destroyer such as GLASGOW armed with the Sea Wolf
missile to cover the critical low level area.
The Argentine attack proved both the wisdom and
weakness of this defense. The two British ships were
stationed on the gunline on the east side of the islands.
They were bombarding the shore when attacked. The four
Skyhawks came in low and broke into pairs aiming at both
ships. Sea Wolf missiles from the BRILLIANT immediately
destroyed two aircraft. The third aircraft inexplicably
flew into the sea. The fourth then climbed from the
encounter and disappeared into the clouds. The Sea Wolf's
powers against the low level attacker had proven successful.
One hour later, however, a second wave of A-4's attacked.
They were below the umbrella of the Sea Dart. Sea Wolf was
activated but the system "reset and refused to fire."33
Anti-aircraft machine gun fire cracked from the deck but
the penetrating Skyhawk released three bombs which
miraculously hit the water and bounced over BRILLIANT. A
fourth smashed through the hull of GLASGOW, passed through
the ship and fell in the sea without exploding.34 GLASGOW
began to take water and had to move to the east for
temporary repairs. The British had found the Sea Wolf was
very effective in engaging single targets, but its computers
were overloaded by an onslaught of four aircraft or more.
Action May 21
The British made the initial landing on the western
side of East Falkland at San Carlos Water on May 21. This
was also a day of extensive air attacks by the
Argentines,and a day that proved expensive in terms of
losses on both sides.
The narrow inlet at San Carlos with its surrounding
high ground served as a useful refuge for the British
ships. It was particularly effective against the Super
Etendard whose radar could not "see through" the clutter
caused by the hills. To defend the landing, the British
established a line of defense in Falkland Sound which took
the brunt of the attack from the "Argies".
The attacks began at mid-day on the 21st, well after
the British had commenced their landing (H-Hour 210639Z
May 82). The first casualty was the County Class Destroyer
ANTRIM which was bombed and strafed, along with her famous
The second attack of the day was by FAA Skyhawks which
attacked HMS ARGONAUT assigned to take the crippled ANTRIM's
position in the mouth of San Carlos Bay. The wave of seven
Skyhawks approached from the south. The ARGONAUT's radar
picked up their ingress and a Sea Cat AAm was fired which
downed one of the A-4's. The six other Skyhawks released
their bombs. The action has been described thusly:
Incredibly, these hit the water and bounced
over the ship. Every man on the upper decks
was deluged with water. [An astounded British
seaman] watched a black object hurtling over
his head, it "almost parted me hair."35
Ten bombs fell in the sea around ARGONAUT, but two
struck their target without exploding. The ARGONAUT went
dead in the water with serious damage to the boiler room and
Sea Cat magazine section. She had to be towed to the
relative safety of San Carlos water after dark.
The proceedings of May 21 also involved the first
introduction of the Argentine Navy A-4Q's in the battle.
The flight was led by Captain de Corbeta Alberto Philippi.
They flew at 27,000 feet, unescorted, to within 100 miles
of the Falklands and then descended to 100 feet. The pilots
did not know the exact position of the ships; however they
utilized Cape Belgrano and Soledad Island as navigation
checkpoints and the flight proceeded northeast toward San
Carlos. As they approached, they spotted British ships to
the west of San Carlos in Falkland Sound and began their
attack. Captain de Corbeta Philippi described the events:
...At 1,000-1,500 meters from the target,
I ascended to 300 feet and I concentrated to
arrange the crosshairs of my sight on the
stern, without thinking of anything else, it
was aligned. When the center of the cross-
hairs was superimposed on the target, I
pressed the button that launched the bombs.
I increased speed and commenced a violent
turn to escape to the right, descending to
once again fly just above the waves...
Meanwhile, I listended to the voice of my
fellow pilot Jose Cesar Arca shouting,
"Very good, sir." I looked over my shoulder
and saw the frigate with much smoke in the
Each plane attacked the same frigate, which turned out
to be the ARDENT. Their bombs struck the stern of the ship;
again they failed to explode but caused severe damage to her
anti-aircraft missile systems. The damage was irreversible
and the ship eventually abandoned, the second sunk by the
However, despite limited successes, the chances for
success of the Argentine pilots were growing increasingly
slimmer. If they did not face anti-aircraft missiles and
gunfire, the Harriers confidently awaited their intrusion,
with their Sidewinder missiles alteady proving to be an
effective weapon. The British launched the VSTOL aircraft
at 20 minute intervals throughout the day and, despite this
successful surge operation, their limited numbers could not
totally prevent the continued intrusion of Argentine
attackers. They could however, prevent their departure. A
costly war of attrition then ensued, one which took its toll
on Argentine pilots and aircraft.
Captain de Corbeta Philippi's flight was successful on
ingress but not so fortunate as they attempted to depart the
area. As they followed the same route as their ingress, a
flight of Harriers intercepted them. Philippi recounted:
I immediately ordered external cargoes
ejected and to escape with the hope of
reaching refuge in the clouds that were
in front of us. But I felt an explosion
in my tail and the nose of the airplane
elevated uncontrollably; I needed the
support of both hands on the stick that
was unresponsive. I looked to the right
and saw a Sea Harrier at 150 meters coming
in for the kill. ...I reduced speed [and
ejected]. I felt a forcefull explosion
when the canopy ejected, and, immediately
there was a forceful pain in the nape of
my neck. My final thought before passing
out was, "I am falling like a rock."38
The pilot of the second aircraft was shot down and
lost, while the third was hit by small arms fire and had to
eject, to be rescuded by an Argentine helicopter, one of the
few located on the islands.
Captain Philippi landed in the sea 100 meters from the
coast and swam to the shore. He walked for two days before
finding refuge with Tony Blaile, a New Zealander and local
ranch manager. Blaile contacted the Argentines at Puerto
Argentino (Port Stanley) by radio and Philippi was rescued
by an Air Force helicopter.
Accounts vary as to the number of Argentine aircraft
lost during the raids of May 21 with totals ranging between
fourteen and sixteen aircraft.39 Sea Harriers claimed
eleven planes shot down, attributing part of their success
to the predictable routes of the Argentines were forced to
fly because of previously mentioned navigation problems. On
the other hand, the Argentines had sunk one ship and damaged
several others. They had little difficulty in finding the
British ships which were bracketed in Falklands Sound and
San Carlos water.
Action May 23
Air action was curtailed for one day as bad weather set
in but it rose again to full fury on May 23. The Armada
Argentina (Argentine Navy) returned to the fight with five
of Captain Philippi's eight Squadron aircraft remaining
after the combat pf May 21. FAA aircraft, including Mirages
and Skyhawks also joined the action.
The Armada's Skyhawks changed their tactics slightly,
utilizing an Air Force KC-130 to refuel en route to the
islands. They proceeded north up Falkland Sound as a flight
of four and split into flights of two simultaneously
attacking HM's ships ANTELOPE and BROADSWORD. The aircraft
were subject to a rage of crossfire as now both shipboard
and land based positions fired as they approached. The
first wave of aircraft were repelled by anti-aircraft fire
and one was downed by a Sea Cat missile as it turned away.
The second wave was able to penetrate the British defenses
and successfully hit both ANTELOPE and BROADSWORD. ANTELOPE
was hit by two bombs, neither of which exploded but each of
which caused considerable damage. One of the attacking
A-4's was downed by 20mm oerlikon anti-aircraft cannon fire,
the aircraft striking the aftermast of the ship as it
attempted to pull off after being hit. The other Skyhawk
made a successful attack and returned safely to its base.
The fate of the ANTELOPE remained uncertain. A
disposal team was brought in to try to diffuse the
unexploded bombs. In their attempt, the first bomb
detonated, killing one of the ordnance crew. A tremendous
fire broke out which eventually led to explosions in the
magazine sections. The resultant damage was beyond repair
and by the next morning, the ANTELOPE began to settle into
British accounts put the number of FAA and Armada
losses at seven for the day. Still the persistence of the
Argentine pilots and their ability to penetrate the defense
greatly alarmed the British. As of May 23, they had lost
three ships and incurred considerable damage to others.
Continued losses such as these would seriously lessen their
chances of success in the campaign.
The major area of concern among the British staff was
the placement of the carriers HERMES and INVINCIBLE. They
had been operating nearly 200 miles to the east of the
Falklands at the edge of the exclusion zone so that their
position would be difficult to reach or locate. Their
safety was considered paramount, as a loss of either would
give the Argentines a great advantage in the air war. Their
distant location however, left them with less time on
station and the constant changing of aircraft at combat air
patrol stations left holes in the British defense. The
alternative supported by some commanders was to move the
carriers closer to shore, giving the Harriers more time to
loiter while decreasing the time its took them to react to
enemy attack. Rear Admiral John Woodward, the Task Force
Commander, considered the change but decided to continue
with the plan to protect the carriers by keeping them
further away from the Falklands, their safety remaining his
Action May 24-25
May 24th brought further attacks by Mirage V'S and
Skyhawks. Captain Horacio Gonzalez, a Dagger pilot remarked
that his run on San Carlos "was like running a gauntlet...
he brought his flight of four through fifteen ships, dodging
between them after dropping bombs to avoid anti-aircraft
fire."41. The most successful attacks of the 24th were
made by Skyhawks who, on one pass, hit both the SIR GALAHAD
and SIR LANCELOT, amphibious logistics ships unloading
supplies at San Carlos. Again, as often happened, the bombs
did not explode and the ships escaped a more destructive
The British claim eight more Argentine aircraft
destroyed that day, three each by Harriers and Rapier
surface-to-air missiles and two by Bofors anti-aircraft
The following day, a national holiday for the
Argentines honoring the overthrow of Spanish authority,
brought extensive attacks from the FAA and Armada. Their
attacks seemed more purposeful as specific targets had been
selected. The pilots did not merely fly to an area in the
hopes of spotting any ship, any ship, but had pre-selected
Their first target was the British missile trap - the
Type 42 and Type 22 destroyers paired together as the outer
ring of the British defense. Destruction of these would
open the area for attacks both on other ships and on the
beachhead. COVENTRY and BROADSWORD were on station on the
25th, with the former experiencing early successes that day
in shooting down three Argentine aircraft including two
At approximately 2 P.M., the air-raid warning signaled
the COVENTRY of inbound attackers. The Sea Dart radar and
computer momentarily provided a firing solution only to lose
it. The Argentine Skyhawks had again dropped to wave-top
level below British radar means. They had flown a route
over West Falkland hiding among the radar cover caused by
the hills, further confusing radar operators.43 The
Skyhawks sped from the direction of Pebble Island and the
three automatic weapons on the destroyer went into action.
Flight Officer Jorge Neuvo described his attack on the
As we began our run (one minute out at top
speed) they fired a missile. I don't know
what kind of missile it was; perhaps a Sea
Dart because the frigate was of the Type 42
series which turned out to be the CONVENTRY.
The missile passed over us at about 900 to
1200 feet. Once I framed the ship in my
sight, I saw nothing else for about 30
seconds but I felt something like the impact
of cannon fire before releasing my bombs.
As we were coming toward the frigate, we
noticed that it quickly began to change
course 90 degrees. By the time I released
my bombs I was 40 degrees off from the
ship -- we passed over and noticed three
bomb hits on it.44
The COVENTRY was desperately trying to maneuver to
safety. Unfortunately, this attempt was her downfall as she
erroneously moved in front of BROADSWORD's bow negating the
Sea Wolf's target solution on the incoming aircraft. Three
of the four bombs dropped penetrated COVENTRY's port side
and exploded. The ship listed heavily to port, all power
was gone and she began to sink.45
This attack revealed another weakness in the Sea Wolf
missile system. The Sea Wolf system is designed for self-
defense. It achieves its target solution automatically, by
computer, prior to launch. The ship must consequently be in
position between the attacking aircraft and any other ship
it is attempting to protect. It was unlikely that
sufficient time would have been available for ships to so
maneuver when facing a high speed, low-level attack. In
this instance, the attempted maneuver blocked the chance for
BROADSWORD to fire and the COVENTRY was lost.
The second planned Argentine mission of the day was an
attack on the carrier INVINCIBLE. Argentine reconnaissance
had detected a very large British ship heading west towards
Falkland Sound. The French had delivered only five Exocet
missiles and the Armada had carefully conserved the use of
this limited asset. Since their earlier success in sinking
the SHEFFIELD, Etendard pilots had anxiously awaited another
Captain de Corbeta Roberto Curilovic and Ten. de navio
Julio Banaza departed Rio Grande, their route the longest
flown by Argentine attack pilots during the war. They
proceeded in a northerly direction to a point that would
keep them from detection by the British Task Force. They
refueled once enroute and were aided in navigation by a
C-130. The flight passed to the north of the target and
then proceeded on a southerly heading to line up for an
attack from the east. They correctly figured that the
British defense would be more concentrated for attacks from
the west; however, their attempt was unsuccessful, as the
frigate AMBUSCADE detected their presence with her radar.
The fleet was alerted and chaff screens were released. Two
Exocets were fired, from fifteen to thirty kilometers away.
The chaff screen was effective for those ships so armed.
However, the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR, a container ship taken up
from trade and converted to a semi-carrier with the
installation of a landing platform, possessed no chaff. The
ship was hit below the superstructure on the port side.
Opinions vary as to whether the missile actually exploded,
but a fire ensued and the ship had to be abandoned.
The 25th had seen some of the most damaging combat of
the war. The Argentines experienced considerable loss in
aircraft and pilots although the total number of aircraft
downed was not reported by either side. The British saw the
sinking of two of their ships. The Argentines had wasted
two of the valued Exocets without hitting the primary
target. They did hit the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR, however, which
could be considered a carrier as it was used to store
Harriers not in service to ease the burden off the HERMES and
the INVINCIBLE, Chinook, Lynx and Wessex helicopters.
Fortunately for the British, no Harriers were aboard at the
time but three Chinook, three Lynx and seven Wessex were
lost which greatly limited the flexibility of the ground
forces in the subsequent land campaign. Destruction of the
HERMES or INVINCIBLE would have been much more damaging but
the sinking of the container ship was certainly a difficult
loss for the British both in terms of assets and morale.
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The 25th of May seemed a turning point in the war. The
British were reeling from their losses as were the
Argentines. However, neither side sensed the weakening of
the other. The British fully expected more attacks of the
same intensity, but they did not come. Roughly one third of
the Argentine air strength had been lost, with an estimate
of over thirty lost by the afternoon of May 25.46 The
effect of the loss of so many pilots was devastating; the
cost to morale was equally debilitating. For the most part,
the rest of the war saw Argentine attacks of less intensity.
Had the Argentines known and been able to pursue the battle
as they did on their national holiday, victory might have
Action May 30
They did attempt another attack on the INVINCIBLE on
May 30, but with unconfirmed results. One Exocet remained
of the five which arrived prior to the arms embargo. This
time the Argentines planned a new tactic. The Etendard
Squadron was already planning the final Exocet mission when
as Captain Colombo related: "The higher-ups asked if we had
any problem if they added four aircraft from the air force,
four A-4s [Skyhawks] to attack INVINCIBLE. They said 'You
attack with Exocets and they will follow in and attack with
bombs.' ...We said no problem."47
They planned to have the Super Etendard with its
inertial navigation system lead the Skyhawks to the British
ship. After the Exocet was launched, the Skyhawks would
follow it in for the killing blows. The plan worked but
confusion arose as to what ship was hit, the INVINCIBLE or
the already damaged ATLANTIC CONVEYOR.
ler Ten. Ernesto Ureta flew one of the A-4's.
...we flew into the target area just
skimming the surface of the sea. The
Exocet was launched and the four of us
went in together - in thirty seconds we
were in the target area. The waves and
salt spray blocked much of the view
through the windshield so we had to make
our own judgment as to the proper release
point. Before we could get to the ship,
Sea Darts shot down Captains Jose Vasques
and Omar Castillo. Alferez Gerardo Isaac
and I pressed into the target. The attack
was made about 30 degrees off the ship's
stern and the bombs were released according
to the size of the carrier. After flying
directly over and away from the carrier, I
made a turn thirty feet above the water and
then confirmed the impact of my bomb. A
great cloud of smoke had formed and this
confirmed that the bomb had hit the
That evening the Argentine press confidently reported that
the INVINCIBLE had been hit. Across the sea however, the
British announced otherwise - that the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR had
taken more fire and had sunk.
It was a controversey mostly without meaning. The
INVINCIBLE remained in service. The air war was nearly
over, as the British troops, virtually unopposed by
by Argentine air now concentrated on the fleet, were making
their way towards Port Stanley and final victory.
Action June 8
Only one more air encounter would occur, eight days
later on June 8. Perhaps the fighting that day indicated
the desperation on the part of the Argentines as they again
resorted to employing the Mirage III in the escort/attack
role. The fate of the Mirages had not changed, however, as
the Harriers awaited their arrival. Three Mirages out of
eight were lost.49
The Skyhawks also continued their pursuit of British
ships. The weather was extremely poor and rain lowered the
visibility a great extent. As the planes proceeded towards
Darwin off Falkland Sound, the Harriers attacked. The poor
weather conditions made the ensuing encounter between the
combatants more confusing and dangerous than usual. An
Argentine pilot remarked:
As we bored into attack the ship, I
suddenly had to dodge an aircraft
coming towards me, climbing to avoid
a collision. At that moment on both
sides, were two Sea Harriers which
launched two Sidewinders, one from
each Harrier. The Skyhawk behind me
exploded and #2 was hit square in the
tail with an explosion that ripped
Although under heavy fire, the Argentine aircraft were
still successful in their attacks. HMS PLYMOUTH was struck
five times and an LCU (landing craft) from FEARLESS was hit
by rocket fire from a Mirage. Most damaging, however, were
the attacks on the Royal Fleet Auxiliary ships SIR GALAHAD
and SIR TRISTAM. These ships were setting unprotected in
Port Pleasant by Fitzroy, there to unload men and supplies
for the 5 Brigade push to Port Stanley. Included was a
company of Welsh guards awaiting landing and movement to
Bluff Cove, four miles to the north.
The first attack on Port Pleasant took place the
afternoon of the 8th. A flight off five Skyhawks attacked,
one of their bombs landing directly on the tank deck of the
SIR GALAHAD. The guards' mortar platoon was holding there
and nearly all ware fatally wounded. The damage to the SIR
GALAHAD was devastating and she succumbed to the blast and
fire and eventually sank. SIR TRISTAM was also hit and two
men killed, but the ship itself survived the attack.
The loss of over forty men aboard the SIR GALAHAD was
the worst single disaster suffered by the British during the
war. Many of the land force were enraged by the circum-
stances. First, the SIR GALAHAD was allowed to pass from
San Carlos to Port Pleasant, on the other side of East
Falkland, without an escort. Second, she was allowed to sit
there for several hours, unloading in broad daylight a
Third, the unloading was of equipment first leaving the men
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left aboard on a ship highly vulnerable to attack. Major
Ewen Southby-Tailyour, a former Commander of the British
detachment on the Falklands, was assigned to assist in
getting the Welsh guards ashore. When he arrived at Port
Pleasant he was "...horrified at the sight of guardsmen
still crowded on GALAHAD. He was certain they were in grave
Perhaps the British Navy had experienced so much
intense action in Falkland Sound that they thought the Port
Pleasant area would be a safe haven. There was little,
however, to justify such an assumption. A British Gazelle
helicopter had been shot down that very morning while flying
from San Carlos to Bluff Cove on a southerly route. The
Argentines still had observation posts overlooking the area
and Southby-Tailyour, when taking some of the guardsmen
ashore in Bluff Cove on the June 6, had taken mortar and
artillery fire from Argentine positions. Prudence dictated
a safer approach to getting the men ashore. In this case,
poor planning led to disaster.
The incident also underlined a major weakness of the
British force, its lack of helicopter asset. Had more
transports been available, the movement of the Welsh
guardsmen to Bluff Cove would have been done by the more
efficient helicopter and these men may have never been
subjected to the peril they experienced.
OTHER AIR OPERATIONS
Although the air war was dominated by the Sea Harrier,
the Skyhawk and the Super Etendard, other aircraft were
involved on both sides which proved effective in certain
situations. The Harrier GR-3's flew a total of 150 sorties
against ground targets and were credited with several
successes. They were particularly effective when armed with
laser guided bombs, employed most often against enemy
reinforced artillery and anti-aircraft positions. The Sea
Harriers flew ten times as many sorties and lost but three
more aircraft (six versus three). All three GR-3 losses
were to enemy ground fire, either by SAM or anti-aircraft
guns. Sea Harriers were flying more but in a less hazardous
There were several grass landing strips on the islands
and these were put to good use by the Argentines. They used
the home-built PUCARA ground attack aircraft, T-34 Mentors
and MB 339 trainers, armed with guns and rockets, to assist
their ground troops. The PUCARA was the most formidable of
these weapons systems, hence they became a major target for
British Strategic Air Service (SAS) raids, which claimed the
destruction of fifteen of these aircraft.
The PUCARA proved an enduring craft. They were hit
numerous times by British small arms fire and by BLOWPIPE
SAMS, but were often able to return to their base for
repair. They were used to combat British helicopters and
shot down two. They also delivered NAPALM against British
positions on at least one occasion.
The British carried approximately 175 helicopters to
the war including the Sea King, Wessex, Chinook, Puma, Wasp,
Lynx and Gazelle. Helicopters were initially employed to
load ships prior to embarkation and then provided an
efficient execution of re-organization (cross-decking)
operations enroute to the South Atlantic.
A vital emplpyment of the helicopter was in the anti-
submarine warfare role, the Sea King HUS-5 performing this
function. These aircraft were usually flown in groups of
three in front of the fleet; they thus formed the first
layer of defense. The typical sortie lasted about four
hours, with the helos dunking their sonar to provide
adequate sruveillance. Although the Argentines had two
submarines available, they inexplicably did not pursue
employment of this weapon system which could have been an
effective supplement to their air attacks on the British
The British Lynx was also used quite extensively in the
war. It was armed with the Sea Skua missile, a weapon
without a complete operational test but one which performed
well in the war. Of the three ships fired at by the Lynx,
two were sunk and the other badly damaged. The tactic
utilized was to approach the ship at sufficient altitude to
detect the target with radar off, to close on the target at
a lower level, initiate a climb with radar on, obtain a
radar lock on the target, launch the missile and then
egress. The total evolution was accomplished beyond the
range of the ship's anti-aircraft means ensuring the safety
of the Lynx.
Other British helicopters were utilized in the
following roles: Wasp for general utility; Wessex for
transport and some ASW; Puma for transport; Chinook for
heavy transport. One unconventional use was the employment
of the Westland Scouts in the assault role, carrying Gurkas
on their skids in the attack of enemy observation posts.
If the key role of the helicopter was in ASW, its most
critical employment was in the CAS-EVAC (medical evacuation)
role. This involved not only the most common use in support
of the ground troops but also in the rescue of those injured
on bombed ships. Any and all available models were used,
and many times the response was spontaneous as helicopters
flying other missions saw the burning results of successful
Argentine attacks. For instance, Sea Kings of 825 and 846
Royal Naval Squadrons responded to the attacks on the SIR
TRISTAM and SIR GALAHAD. They winched men from these ships
despite billowing smoke and exploding ammunition and then
carried the wounded to the CANBERRA for medical treatment.
The lone CHINOOK available to the fleet, a survivor of the
attack on the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR, flew sixty-four casualties
from the SIR GALAHAD in a single flight.54
British helicopters were also employed in their
standard roles during amphibious operations. On D-Day,
May 21, Wessex HU-5's of 845 and 848 Squadrons and Sea King
HU-4's from 846 Squadron launched before dawn; they
initially emplaced RAPIER SAM firing units, and then
participated in the landing of 3 Commando Brigade. These
helicopters flew throughout the day and, in part, overcame a
problem of limited numbers with high availability and
continuous service. 846 Squadron alone accounted for the
lift of nearly one million pounds of equipment and 520 men
while using only seven Sea Kings.55
In accomplishing the resupply mission, British heli-
copter units employed a unique tactic to combat their
vulnerability to air attack. Each helicopter, with its own
maintenance team was dispersed in the valleys of East
Falkland and, when called upon, flew a nap of the earth
profile, below 100 feet, to bring supplies to the front line
troops. This tactic proved effective and a necessary
undertaking to counter a most feared Argentine weapon, the
"Humphrey" was not the only nicknamed helicopter of the
war. The lone surviving CHINOOK (the others lost with the
sinking of the ATLANTIC CONVEYOR) became known as the
"Flying Angel" because of the yeoman service it provided.
It's small maintenance team, operating with nearly no spare
parts and borrowed tools, kept the aircraft in the air until
June 23. During the war, the "Flying Angel" transported a
total of 1,530 troops, 600 tons of equipment, and 650 POWs.
A typical task of the CHINOOK involved "the delivery of
three 105mm guns (two internal, one external), eighty-five
men and twenty-two tons of ammunition to Mount Kent. This
was performed at night, using passive night goggle
technique. The mission was carried out despite severe snow
showers and enemy fire in the landing area, and a radar
altimeter failure on the first return flight. The radar
failure caused the CHINOOK to strike the sea, which resulted
in some minor damage.56
Reports of the Argentine employment of helicopters were
difficult to find. All three services, the Army, Navy and
Air Force maintained rotor craft including the Alouette,
Puma, Chinook, Lynx, Huey and Sea King. The use of the Puma
and Alouette on South Georgia has already been related. Sea
Kings were also employed by the Argentines during their
initial assault on East Falkland; there they inserted men at
the Port Stanley Airfield. They then were used as a shuttle
service, moving men and equipment ashore and then to more
remote locations on East and West Falkland. The aircraft
also patrolled the coastline watching for British
The battle for the Falklands ended with the surrender
of Port Stanley on June 14, 1982. The air war had been
intense and the low level tactics of the Argentines, pursued
with the great courage and unrelenting resolve of Argentine
pilots, proved to be a formidable threat to the Royal Navy.
Despite their lack of adequate escort aircraft for their
attack sorties, the Argentines were able to penetrate the
ill-equipped British fleet defense with shear numbers.
British losses neared a level which seriously endangered
their chances of recapturing the Falklands. Had some of the
Argentines' unexploded bombs detonated, the British may well
have been forced into a quest not for victory but for
Troops were warring on the islands, but the nature of
the conflict seemed to separate rather than integrate air
and ground operations. Helicopters were the major
integrating craft, but defense of the fleet pulled the
Harrier away from its ground support role.
The day of May 25 was the turning point in the air
war. The Argentines stood down to regroup having incurred
serious losses in pilots and aircraft. However, they did
not realize the low state of morale of the British. Had
they pursued more attacks, (such as the one on June 8) at
the end of May, the serious doubts that had already arisen
in the British command may have led to a change of position.
The Air War: A Summary and Commentary
1"The Force of Our Force," AEROSPACIO, September/
October 1982, p. 67.
3Robert L. Scheina, "The Malvinas Campaign,"
U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Naval Review 1983,
4M.J. Armitage and R.A. Mason, Air Power in the
Nuclear Age, (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1983),
5Roy M. Braybrook, "Helicopters in the South
Atlantic War," An Air Combat Special Report, 1983, p. 88.
6Robert Trimble, "Black Buck," An Air Combat Special
Report, 1983, p. 24-7.
8War in the Eighties: Men Against High Tech, ed.
Brian MacDonald, (Canadian Institute of Strategic Studies,
1983), p. 32.
9Desmond Wettern, "Falkland Chickens Clucking Home
to Roost," Pacific Defence Reporter, August 1982, p. 22.
10Armitage, Nuclear Age, p. 205.
11Roy M. Braybrook, "Harriers of War," An Air Combat
Special Report, 1983, p. 35.
12War in the Eighties, p. 34.
13Jeff Ethell and Michael O'Leary, "Strike, Strike
and Strike," An Air Combat Special Report, p. 58.
14Ibid., p. 10.
15Scheina, "The Malvinas Campaign," p. 111.
16Ethell, "Strike", p. 17.
17The Sunday Times of London Insight Team, War in
the Falklands, (New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1982),
18Derek Wood and Mark Hewish, "The Falklands
Conflict, Part 2: The Air War," International Defence
Review, Pt. 1, 15 No: 8 (1982): 977-80.
19"Force of Our Force," p. 52-3.
20Ethell, "Strike", p. 17.
21Jeff Ethell and Michael O'Leary, "Mirage Squadron,"
An Air Combat Special Report, p. 48.
22R. T. Pretty and D.H.R. Archer, ed., Jane's Weapons
Systems 1969-1970, (New York, McGraw-Hill Book Company,
1969), p. 89.
23Wood, "Falklands Conflict," p. 979.
24Braybrook, "Harriers", p. 37.
25Wood, "Falklands Conflict," p. 979.
26Ethell, "Strike", p. 12.
28Julian S. Lake, "The South Atlantic War: A Review
of the Lessons Learned," Defense Electronics, November 1983,
30Ethell, "Strike", p. 19.
31Armitage, Nuclear Age, p. 207.
32Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, The Battle for
the Falklands, (New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 1983),
33Ibid., p. 159.
35Ibid., p. 209.
36Scheina, "Malvinas Campaign," p. 112.
37Hastings, Battle for Falklands, p. 209.
38Scheina, "Malvinas Campaign," p. 112.
39Armitage, Nuclear Age, p. 212, Hastings, Battle
for Falklands, p. 342.
40Hastings, Battle for Falklands, p. 215.
41Ethell, "Strike", p. 17.
42Hastings, Battle for Falklands, p. 217.
43London Times Insight Team, War, Falklands, p. 220.
44Ethell, "Strike", p. 10.
45Hastings, Battle for Falklands, p. 225.
46London Times Insight Team, War, Falklands, p. 219.
47Ibid., p. 222.
48Ethell, "Strike", p. 11.
49Ibid., p. 10.
51Robert Fox, Eyewitness Falklands, (London:
Metheun, 1982), p. 239.
52London Times Insight Team, War, Falklands, p. 253.
53Wood, "Falklands Conflict," p. 978.
54Braybrook, "Helicopters", p. 93.
55Ibid., p. 91.
56Ibid., p. 93.
The British accomplished their objective of re-estab-
lishing control of the Falklands with the surrender of
General Mario Menendez, Commander of the Argentine troops on
the islands, on 14 June 1982. The British had proven that
they were collectively a nation that adhered to principle.
No territory of theirs would be taken by force. When this
principle was violated, immediate action had to be taken.
The war was prosecuted by the military arm. The morale of
the military was boosted by the support of the government
and civilian populace. Support also came from industry
which mobilized in only days to supply the materials that
were needed. There were no factions; theirs was a united
effort. But, even with strong backing, the British forces
found themselves in a war, over 8,000 miles from home for
which they were not prepared. They overcame many obstacles
with ingenuity, determination, guile and professional
skill. It would have been, however, far more difficult for
them had the support from home been divided and the issue
not quite so personal.
The Argentines lost the war but also distinguished
themselves, particularly the pilots of the Navy and Air
Force. The Argentine military will not be remembered for a
great or classic military plan, or a united effort.
They will, however, from the air war they waged be remem-
bered for their individual courage, their national will and
their commitment to fight.
While the British were supported by national unity, the
Argentines were controlled by a disjointed junta. Their
forces were uncoordinated and their effort uncertain as to
specific military objectives. Yet their pilots pressed on
with an unrelenting determination. As the air war
progressed, Argentine pilots faced less than a 50 percent
chance of returning from a mission.1 They could not
continue to pursue the destruction of the British fleet and
incur air losses at this rate. They still were concerned
with an unfriendly neighbor, Chile and had to retain air
power to respond to the perceived Chilean threat.2
The British made the necessary adjustments. They were
faced with numerous problems and their innovative approach
in modifying their equipment overcame many shortcomings.
National policy had evolved their armed services into NATO
proficient forces, incapable of unilaterally waging a war
any distance from their shores. Their Navy was prepared for
ASW/convoy operations. An amphibious operation 8,000 miles
from Great Britain was realistically inconceivable to
defense planners. War in Europe was more likely and British
defense budget reductions were directed at the weapons
systems of war away from home, especially large aircraft
Consequently, the Harrier, with its VSTOL profile,
enabled the British to prosecute their intentions. The
Harrier's vertical take-off and landings capability enabled
it to operate from Great Britain's two remaining small
carriers, the HERMES and INVINCIBLE. Its maneuverability in
air-to-air combat was better than that of any Argentine
aircraft, giving the British a decided edge. The British
suffered because of the lack of airborne early warning
aircraft but the presence of the Harrier at least lessened
the criticalness of this deficiency.
The British won the war, attained their objective but
still the war did not go as planned. They had unequivocably
stated that they are not capable of making an opposed
amphibious landing. Therefore, their aim was to insure an
unopposed landing on the Falklands by destroying the
Argentine troops located there.3 This aim was never
reached for two reasons. First and predominantly, the
Argentines dug in and stayed under cover, thus their
destruction was almost impossible. Second, the Argentines'
pursuit of the fleet pushed the British air arm to its
limits so the means was not readily available to affect the
For the sage reason, the Argentines were able to
continually re-supply their forces on the Falklands.
Although the Total Exclusion Zone (sea and air exclusion)
had been in effect since late April, the Argentines
continued to penetrate the zone at night with C-130
transports. The limited Sea Harrier assets just could not
maintain continuous coverage, 24 hours a day.
The British then, chanced a landing without complete
assuredness that it would not be opposed. Their confidence
was bolstered only by their intelligence gathering means.
This was extremely effective especially that carried out by
the SAS and SBS. Although access to satellite collection
had been provided by the United States, the first hand
information collected by on the scene, specially trained
personnel was the necessary ingredient for success. With
this information, a beachhead was selected both to ensure
surprise but also protection for the landing force. A
demonstration was also conducted to draw attention away from
the main landing. Much of this plan was developed on the
basis of a strong intelligence gathering network, a resource
the Argentines lacked.
The Argentine command was mostly concerned with naval
intelligence, i.e., the movement of the British fleet. The
ability to gather naval intelligence, however, proved to be
very weak. The paucity of aircraft equipped for such a
mission has been discussed. This weakness was amplified by
their lack of prompt and accurate reporting and even more
surprising, their inability to pass important information
between the three services. When news of the British
actions on May 21 reached Argentina, two hours elapsed
before the Army and Navy passed the information to the Air
Force. The first Air Force missions that day were planned
on the basis of "sketchy reports of some form of British
operation taking place there", a vague background for
accurate attack planning.4 Unbeknownst to the British,
poor communication by the Argentine staff facilitated the
requirement for an unopposed landing. The Argentines were
also unable to shadow the fleet and news of the ships'
presence in San Carlos was passed only after they had
already arrived in the area.
Once ahsore, the British found that their communica-
tions systems were inadequate, for a timely and coordinated
effort. The Army, especially, had extreme difficulty in
coordinating with the British command ship. They had an HF
capability, but the HERMES remained at a great distance from
the islands for its own protection and the extremely poor
weather encountered during most of the war greatly hampered
effectiveness. The alternative was a satellite link with
relay to London and then to the ship. However, the Army did
not possess the required access means to the satellite
system.5 The end result was an inability to support
ground requests for air with any punctuality. Royal Marine
units had less difficulty in processing requests perhaps
because they regularly worked with the Navy and compati-
bility existed from prior practice.
The Argentines were hampered by communications problems
mostly attributable to a lack of unity among the ruling
junta. From the outset, the President, General Galtieri and
the Navy Chief, Admiral Anaya were most aligned in the
decision to take possession of the Falklands. The Air Force
head, Brigadier Basilio Lamidozo, was not privy to the
initial decision to invade. Throughout the conflict,
Lamidozo remained the most hesitant member of the triad6
ironic position in that his Air Force was so aggressive in
fighting the ensuing battle.
The Argentines recognized the necessity to have an
overall commander of the forces involved and assigned
Admiral Juan Jose Lombardo to the post. But as the war
situation deteriorated, his effectiveness lessened. The
Army and Air Force began to take exception with the orders
issued by a naval officer when the Argentine surface navy
had for all intents and purposes taken itself out of the
Each air component also had its own coordinating
headquarters. The Air Force controlled tactical air
operations through the Comando de la Fuerga Aerea Sur
(South Air Force Command). The Navy A-4's and Super
Etendards were based at Rio Grande under the operational
control of the Naval Air Command. No coordination existed
between the two controlling agencies. For instance, the
Navy launched the initial Exocet attacks without informing
the Air Force of their intentions.
The result of jealousy and poor communication between
services resulted in no control. The junta acted like a
coalition government, with the emphasis on factions and this
permeated down to the armed services. The Argentines
violated a basic rule of warfare, i.e., unity of effort;
this then seriously hampered their performance and
positive control of tactical air operations was never
achieved. Had there been better coordination, the results
might have been reversed.
The British high command, however, functioned with
control and perception. Admiral Sir John Fieldhouse, the
Joint Commander remained in the United Kingdom but still
provided overall direction for the war. The Chief of
Defence Staff, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Terence Lewin, was
the military's link to the government. The aims of both
Fieldhouse and Lewin were realistic: they wanted to keep
directives from London as broad as possible in order to give
the local commander, Rear Admiral Woodward, maximum opera-
tional flexibility in planning.7 This proved prudent in
that the British did not have a contingency plan for the
operation and a flexible approach was needed in reacting to
the unpredictable situation.
Argentine decision making reflected a lack of experi-
ence in wartime matters. British actions caused hasty
reactions evidently without a clear understanding of the
The British Vulcan attacks resulted in little damage to
their targets. They did, however, make the Argentines
realize their bases on the mainland could be reached by the
Vulcan. Consequently, the Argentines concentrated their
Mirage effort on defense of their air bases. This left
attack aircraft without escort, increasing their vulner-
ability. This decision eased one of the most feared
concerns of the British, the possibility of defending
against attackers and escort aircraft simultaneously. This
proclivity of the Argentines to assume the worst and
reduce their offensive capability contributed significantly
to the British success.
Some British decisions were also questionable. They
were driven by a need to end the war as soon as possible.
They realized the conflict would become progressively
difficult to win as the harsh South Atlantic winter
approached. The weather throughout the war had been
atrocious. Between May and June there had been seventeen
days when aircraft could not participate in the battle
because of rain and low clouds,8 an indication that cold,
windy and wet weather would soon be the norm. Not only
would air operations be seriously hampered, but the British
troops, however hearty, would be subjected to the horrible
The British, driven by these considerations, made the
landing at San Carlos without the air superiority usually
required. They gambled that the Argentines would not
intercede either by ground or air action. The British were
fortunate as the bungling of the Argentine staff left them
unopposed until much of their force was ashore.
Later the British, again pressed by a need for expedi-
ency, moved the SIR GALAHAD, unescorted, to the eastern side
of the islands. This was not however, an uncommon tactic of
the British. Ships had been regularly left without cover
because of their lack of assets and the need to concentrate
much of their efforts in protecting the two carriers.9
Given their lack of air assets, they utilized an umbrella
type defense. The air war was essentially fought between
Pebble Island and the eastern shore of East Falkland. They
attempted to cover the 90 mile by 100 mile area and not any
specific ships within it. In the case of the SIR GALAHAD,
they also hoped the poor weather of the day prior would
continue, providing the ship with additional protection.
However, as many forces have found in prior battles,
reliance on the predictability of weather can be fool-
hearty. The skies cleared, the raid came, and the British
suffered their highest single incidence of casualties of the
When the Argentines decided that an invasion of the
Falklands was militarily prudent they assumed that
the British would never be able to take military action
because of the great distance involved. The South Americans
were summarily surprised when the British responded with
such speed and strenth. Within four weeks a major force of
ships and men were in position to wage war on Argentina's
Both sides were faced with problems caused by their
locality to the war. The British could get closer to the
war with their carriers, but still had to contend with the
inflexibilities associated with carrier based operations and
the finite number of evolutions that could be supported by
waterborne platforms. The Argentines, in particular had to
support their aircraft from home bases and consequently had
to deal with the problem of being located 400 miles from the
The Port Stanley airfield could have solved Argentina's
problem. The field, only 2,000 feet long, was not suited to
heavy jet operations. Had it been longer, however, it could
have accommodated Argentine attack aircraft.
The Argentines considered attempting to enlarge the
field with expeditionary materials10 but gave up on the
idea for several reasons. The portable metallic planking
was available but was an extremely large load to transport
either by air or sea. In April, they moved one load by ship
but began to feel pressure from the quick reaction of the
British which compelled them to concentrate on the transport
of other war supplies. They also decided that the time
required to install the matting, considering the rugged
terrain surrounding the airport, would be greater than that
available. They also had to improve fuel storage and
refuel capabilities to support jet aircraft, but again time
constraints caused them to reject such an endeavor.
Finally, the Argentines felt they would not be able to
defend the airfield and their valuable jet assets would be
victimized by Harrier or Vulcan attacks.
However, aircraft operating from the islands would have
been a great cause of concern for the closing British
fleet. If the occupation had not been impromptu, they might
have considered, planned and prepared for the enlargement of
the strip, moved aircraft and defense equipment there and
been prepared to carry the fight to the British further out
at sea. Their spontaneous attack of the islands left the
Agentines without this viable alternative.
The fact remains the airfield was not suitable for jet
traffic and the war had to be fought without the advantages
a larger facility would have allowed. Both sides fought as
previously described. The question is, could the Argentines
have fought differently and changed the outcome? Consider-
ing the lack of success of their bombing raids and their
problem with unexploding bombs, the answer certainly is,
The Argentines went into the war without experience.
True, the British pilots were also not combat veterans, but
their forces had at least historical experience to draw
upon. The Argentines, however, had nothing to relate to in
the way of national experience.
Argentine training reflected this. Their pilots were
not prepared for the adversary they were to encounter.11
Realistically, their training was based on the threat posed
by Chile, a country with similar inexperience in air battle
and armed with comparable weapons systems.
Consequently, the Argentines were forced to develop
tactics from their first experiences against the British.
They decided on flying a low profile at fifty feet or less.
This forced them to ingress without escort, a weakness the
British pilots recognized, and used to their advantage.12
The Argentines negated a great amount of certain
success by staying at such a low level to release their
bombs. They were for the most part using 500 and 1,000
pound iron bombs. These have a fuzing mechanism that
activates only after the bomb has been released. Arming
vanes then begin to rotate to activate the warhead. This
procedure takes time and bombs released at so low a level
did not have time to arm. The Argentines knew this but
their lack of flexibility caused them to continue this
There was an alternative. They could have continued
ingress below the Sea Dart envelope and then climed to
higher altitude to release their bombs. This, according to
British sources, would not have decreased their surviv-
ability13 and what they would have lost in accuracy, they
may have gained in effectiveness and perhaps prevented some
of their own losses.
The destroyer GLASGOW was hit by bombs that didn't
explode. The frigate BRILLIANT's anti-air missiles
destroyed four Argentine aircraft. The frigate BROADSWORD
avoided destruction as three Argentine bombs bounced over
its stern. BROADSWORD downed three aircraft. The frigate
PLYMOUTH was hit by four unexploding bombs. PLYMOUTH
claimed destruction of five aircraft. Had these ships been
lost, the British fleet defense capability would have been
greatly weakened. Argentine losses would not have been so
heavy. Their ability to continue waging the war would have
The Argentines employed World War II bombing techniques
against the sophisticated defense weapons of the British.
They were effective, largely because the Argentines
saturated the ships' computers, negating their capability to
provide tracking solutions. Old technology in the form of
aircraft designed in the 1950's were effective against more
modern equipment. The key was the absence of an airborne
early warning aircraft. Had the British had this capability
they could have dispatched their Harriers to intercept the
Argentines well before the fleet was in danger. Considering
the Argentine pilots' hesitancy in fighting the Harrier, the
advantage would have swung dramatically to the British
side. In essence, the British defense was not complete
without early warning and their advantage in more modern
weapons systems was consequently ineffectual.
Some have attributed the British victory to a good
supply of luck. On 2 May, the VIENTECINCO DE MAYO pursued
the British carriers with an intention to attack. They were
cursed by calm winds in an area noted for the reverse. The
carrier could not attain sufficient wind across the deck to
launch her bomb layden aircraft14. The carrier returned
to port never again to be used. Throughout the war, bombs
did not explode and even more miraculously, skipped over
Certainly good fortune is an ingredient in many
victories. In this case, however, the predominant factors
were unity, better training, better thinking and better
command. It is unlikely that a preponderance of luck on
the side of the Argentines could have overcome what they
lacked in these areas.
1Sir Terence Lewin, Chief of Defence Staff, address
to Royal United Service Institute Annual Conference, 24 June
2Interview with Captain de Navio Jose Ferrer, Armada
Argentina, Washington, D.C., 22 February 1984.
3Interview with Commander Christopher Hunneyball,
Task Force Air Officer, Washington, D.C., 25 January 1983.
4Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, The Battle for the
Falklands, (New York, W.W. Norton & Company, 1983), p. 218.
5Interview with Commander Hunneyball.
6Hastings, p. 218.
7Sir Terence Lewin, address to Royal United Service
8"La Fuerza de Nuestra Fuerza," (The Force of Our
Force), Aerospacio, (September/October 1982), p. 30.
9Interview with Commander Hunneyball.
10"La Fuerza," Aerospacio, p. 27.
11Jeff Ethell, "Mirage Squadron," Air Combat Special
Report (1983): p. 49.
12Interview with Commander Hunneyball.
14Robert L. Scheina, "The Malvinas Campaign," U.S.
Naval Institute Proceedings, (Naval Review, 1983), p. 106.
Braybrook, Roy M., "Harriers at War", Air Combat Special
Report, 1983, pp. 28-41.
Braybrook, Roy M., "Helicopters in the South Atlantic War",
Air Combat Special Report, 1983, pp. 86-97.
Calvert, Peter. "Sovereignty and the Falklands Crisis."
International Affairs, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Summer 1983),
Dunnett, Denzil. "Self-determination and the Falklands."
International Affairs, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Summer 1983),
Ethell, Jeff, "Mirage Squadron", Air Combat, 1983,
An interview with the Commanding Officer and one
of the pilots from a Mirage Squadron.
Ethell, Jeff and O'Leary, Michael. "Strike, Strike and
Strike." Air Combat Special Report, 1983, pp. 4-21.
Interviews conducted by Challenge Publications
staff writers during a tour of Argentinian Air Force
and Naval Bases after the war.
Great Britain. Office of the Secretary of State for
Defence, Report to Parliament, The Falklands Campaign:
The Lessons", December, 1982.
Hastings, Max and Jenkins, Simon. The Battle for the
Falklands. New York, London: W. W. Norton & Company,
A meticulously researched and readable account by
a war correspondent and political writer.
Hewish, Mark. "The Falklands Conflict, Part 3: Naval
Operations." International Defence Review, No: 10
1982, pp. 1340-1343.
Hunneyball, C., British Air Office, Washington, D.C.,
Interview, 25 January 1983.
An interview with Admiral Woodward, Staff Air
MacDonald, Brian, ed. War in the Eighties: Men Against
High Tech. Toronto: Canadian Institute of Strategic
A series of panel discussions conducted by the
CISS with experts from around the world discussing
high technology on the battlefield.
Scheina, Robert L. "The Malvinas Campaign." U.S. Naval
Institute Proceedings, Naval Review 1983, pp. 98-117.
An account of the circumstances leading to, and
the major events of, the war by an obviously very pro-
Trimble, Robert, "Black Buck", Air Combat Special Report,
1983, pp. 22-27.
U.S. Navy Department, The South Atlantic Conflict - Lessons
Learned (U), 8 March 1983.
A classified campaign of the lessons learned from
the Falklands as they apply to the U.S. Navy and its
Wood, Derek, and Hewish, Mark. "The Falklands Conflict,
Part 1: The Air War." International Defence Review,
No: 8 1982, pp. 976-980.
Armitage, M. J., and Mason, R. A. Air Power in the Nuclear
Age. Urbana, Chicago, London: University of Illinois
One chapter provides an excellent account of the
Bishop, Patrick and Witherow, John. The Winter War.
London, Melbourne, New York: Quartet Books, 1983.
A readable account of the war concentrated mostly
on the ground effort.
Fox, Robert. Eyewitness Falklands. London: Methuen, 1982.
Excellent eyewitness account of the war by a BBC
Perret, Bryan. Weapons of the Falklands Conflict. Poole,
Dorset: Blandford Press, 1982.
Statistics on hardware of both sides with an
accompanying account of the action which makes one
doubt the credibility of the research.
The Sunday Times of London Insight Team. War in the
Falklands. New York: Harper & Row Publishers, 1982.
One of the first published accounts of the war
credibly written by a team of journalists and
Beck, Peter J. "Britain's Antarctic Dimension."
International Affairs, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Summer
Braybrook, Roy, "Lessons of the Air War over the Falklands."
Maritime Defence, August 1982, pp. 279-281.
Cable, James a "The Falklands Conflict." U.S. Naval
Institute Proceedings, (Sept 1982), pp. 70-6.
Collier, Simon. "The First Falklands War? Argentine
Attitudes." International Affairs, Vo. 59, No. 3
(Summer 1983), 459-64.
A sysnopsis by a reader in history at the
University of Essex of works published in Argentina
on the Falklands War.
Cordesman, Anthony H., "The Falklands Crisis: Emerging
Lessons for Power Projection and Force Planning",
Armed Forces Journal, September, 1982, pp. 29-46.
Ethell, Jeff, "Pucara", Air Combat Special Report, 1983,
pp. 43-45, 80-85.
"Fallout from the Falklands, A Preliminary Assessment."
International Defense Review, (No. 6/1982),
Freedman, Lawrence a "Bridgehead Revisited: The Literature
of the Falklands." International Affairs, Vol. 59,
No, 3 (Summer 1983), 445-52.
An excellent summary and critique of books and
articles written on the Falklands.
Gueritz, E. F. "The Falklands: Joint Warfare Justified."
Journal of the Royal United Services Institute, (Sept
1982), pp. 46-55.
Guertner, Gary L. "The 74-Day War; New Technology and Old
Tactics." Military Review, (November 1982), pp. 65-72.
"La Fuerza de Nuestra Fuerza", (The Force of Our Force),
Aerospacio (Sept/Oct 1983): 3-78.
The contributions of the Argentine Air Force and
Navy are described in this article with no author
given. Emphasis is placed on the bravery of the pilots
despite their inexperience in war.
Lake, Julian S. "The South Atlantic War: A Review of the
Lessons Learned." Defense Electronics, November 1983,
Makin, Guillermo A. "Argentine Approaches to the Falklands/
Malvinas: Was the Resort to Violence Foreseeable?"
International Affairs, Vol. 59, No. 3 (Summer 1983),
Menaul, Stewart W. B. "The Falklands Campaign: A War of
Yesterday?" Strategic Review, (Fall 1982), pp. 82-91.
Milton, T. R. "Too Many Missing Pieces." Air Force
Magazine, December 1982, pp. 48-53.
Moore, Brian W., "The Falklands War: The Air Defense Role."
Air Defense Artillery, Winter 1983, pp. 17-21.
Nott, John, "The Falklands Campaign." U.S. Naval Institute
Proceedings, Naval Review 1983, pp. 118-137.
O'Shea, T. B., "Full Rein for the Chopper." Pacific Defence
Reporter, September 1982, pp. 65-67.
Thompson, Leroy, "Ground War", Air Combat Special Report,
1983, pp. 66-99.
Thompson, Leroy, "SAS and SBS OPS", Air Combat Special
Report, 1983, pp. 61-65.
"Triumph and Tragedy of the Atlantic Conveyor." Air Combat
Special Report, 1983, pp. 52-55.
Wettern, Desmond. "Falklands Chickens Clucking Home to
Roost." Pacific Defence Reporter, August 1982,
Wood, Derek, and Hewish, Mark. "The Falklands Conflict,
Part 2: Missile Operations." International Defence
Review, No: 9, 1982, pp. 1151-1152.
Woodward, John and Moore, Jeremy. "The Falklands
Experience." Journal of the Royal United Services
Institute, (March 1982), pp. 25-32.
Young, P. Lewis, "Further Thoughts on the Lessons of the
Falklands Crisis." Asian Defence Journal, Oct. 1982,
"A Thatcher Test." New York Times, 22 May 1982, Sec. A,
"Argentines Assert They Hit Carrier." New York Times,
31 May 1983, Sec. A, p. 5.
"Britain Reports Force of 5,000 Widens Falklands Beachhead;
200 Men Lost as Frigate is Sunk." New York Times,
23 May 1982, Seca A, p. 1.
"British Appear to Achieve Initial Goal." New York Times,
22 May 1982, Sec. A, p. 1.
"Six Argentine Jets Reported Downed in Falkland Raid."
New York Times, 26 May 1983, Sec. A, p. 1.
Address to Royal United Service Institute Annual Conference,
by Sir Terence Lewin, British Chief of Defence Staff
(Washington, D.C.: 8 July 82).
U.S. Air Force, Falklands: Power Projection on a Shoe-
string (U)", TAC Intelligence Briefing 83-11, 7 March
Unclassified portions of this document have been
used to verify data for this paper.
Pretty, R. T. and Archer, D.H.R. ed. Jane's Weapons
Systems 1969-1970. New York: McGraw-Hill Book
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