The Falkland Islands Conflict, 1982:
Air Defense Of The Fleet
SUBJECT AREA Aviation
Author: Haggart, James A. Lieutenant Commander U.S. Navy
Title: The Falkland Islands Conflict
Air Defense of the Fleet
Publisher: Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Date: 1 May 1984
The object of this paper is to examine the air defense
aspects of the 1982 Falkland Islands Conflict and by a
discussion of "lessons learned", identify future directions
for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
The paper begins with a brief historical insight into the
centuries old dispute over control of these isolated South
Atlantic islands. The chronicle is followed by a summary
of the British and Argentine theater naval and air forces.
Special attention in this description is given to the French
built Super Etendard and its Exocet missile as well as the
Royal Navy's shipboard antiair defenses and the Harrier
V/STOL aircraft. The paper describes the inhospitable
weather and identifies the electronic warfare shortfalls of
The primary emphasis begins with an examination of the
Argentine air tactics and a description of the valor of its
flight crews. This is followed by an evaluation of the
strengths and weaknesses of the various British antiair
defenses and a study of the Harrier tactics. Also included
is mention of their attempts with Vulcan bomber and commando
raid to deny Argentine use of the runways on the Falkland
Finally, the paper identifies many of the lessons of the
conflict, including the need for quality troops and realis-
tic training, shipboard point defense systems, and expedi-
tionary air fields which will have future impacts on the
U.S. Navy and Marine Corps.
WAR SINCE 1945 SEMINAR
The Falkland Islands Conflict, 1982
Air Defense of the Fleet
Lieutenant Commander James A. Haggart, USN
2 April 1984
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
Marine Corps Development and Education Command
Quantico, Virginia 22134
TABLE OF CONTENTS
1 SUMMARY OF EVENTS LEADING TO WAR 1
2 SUMMARY OF OPPOSING FORCES 1O
3 THE SUPER ETENDARD 18
4 THE EXOCET MISSILE 20
5 WEATHER 22
6 ELECTRONIC WARFARE 24
7 BRITISH LAND BASED AIRCRAFT 28
8 THE HARRIER 35
9 SHIPBOARD AIR DEFENSES 52
10 ARGENTINE AIR FORCE TACTICS 69
11 SHORE BASED ANTI-AIR DEFENSES 72
12 ARGENTINE AIR ATTACKS 75
13 DESTRUCTION OF AIRCRAFT ON GROUND 82
14 LESSONS LEARNED 83
15 CONCLUSION 95
When God placed the Falklands 380 nautical
miles off the Argentinean coast, He must
have wanted to make the South Atlantic
conflict as interesting as possible. Given
another hundred miles, the Argentine Air
Force could not have challenged the British
Task Force. Given a hundred miles less,
the British would have had to take out the
air bases on the Argentinean mainland.
RADM W. C. Abhau in a memorandum for
LtGen Shutler, January 14, 1983.
Because of the large volume of material that could be
written concerning this conflict, the primary focus will be
on fleet air defense aspects. This paper will examine the
forces the British and Argentines had available, how they
used them and what lessons can be learned. Because official
data from Argentine sources is limited, much of the discus-
sion must necessarily be developed from a British point of
SUMMARY OF EVENTS LEADING TO WAR
Although the Falklands/Malvinas conflict was fought
only a short time ago (1982), the issue of ownership of the
small group of South Atlantic islands has been contentious
for centuries. No one knows who saw the islands first but
the first man to set foot on the islands was Captain John
Strong. However, in 1690, Strong did no more than chart
the sound between the two main islands and name it after
the First Lord of the Admiralty, Lord Falkland. He then
Under the Treaty of Utrecht (1713) Spain's control of
extensive territories in the Americas--including the Falk-
lands--was formally confirmed. But while this served to
strengthen Spain's claim to the area it did not dissuade
the interests of France and England. The first European to
actually settle on the islands was a French nobleman,
Antoine de Bouqainville, eager for revenge against Britain
for his country's loss of Quebec. In 1764 he claimed the
islands in the name of Louis XV and built a small fort and
settlement just north of Port Stanley on the eastern is-
The British countered in the following year by sending
Commodore John Byron to survey the islands and make claim
the territory for the crown. He landed on West Falkland
and, unaware of the French on the other island, hoisted his
country's flag. The commodore named the spot Point Egmont,
planted a vegetable patch and sailed away.
The next year Captain John McBride arrived to consoli-
date the British claim, build a fort, and eject any other
settlers on the islands who might argue Britain's claim.
The British encountered the French settlement, numbering,
at the time, about 250 people on East Falkland. The French
pointed out that their's was a properly constituted colony
and it was the British who should leave. Neither did so.3
This pattern of claim, counterclaim, marked the entry
of the Falkland Islands into world politics. As France was
an ally of Spain, an agreement was reached in 1767 by which
the French settlement on East Falkland was ceded to Spain
in exchange for financial compensation to de Bouganville.4
The English remained nonetheless.
Two years later, in 1769, the Buenos Aires Captain
General, Francisco Bucarelli was instructed by Madrid to
drive the stubborne British from the islands. His five
ships and 1400 men greatly outnumbered the British com-
mander and his small land of marines who promptly evacuated
Port Egmont. This was actually the first Argentine invasion
of the Falklands--a premonition of their aborted conquest
more than two centuries later.
In 1790 Britain and Spain signed the Nootka Sound
Convention by which Britain formally renounced any colonial
interest in South America as well as the nations adjacent.5
The Falklands then reverted to a Spanish colony until the
collapse of that empire in the early nineteenth century.
In 1811, the Spanish removed settlers from the islands be-
cause of the stirring independence movement in Buenos Aires.
The islands were essentially ungoverned until 1820 when the
new state of the Union Provinces of Rio de la Plata, a fore-
runner of the present day Argentina sent a frigate to estab-
lish claim to the island as part of Argentina's colonial
legacy from Spain. Successive governors followed. In 1829
Governor Louis Vernet attempted to develop farming and
trading interests on the islands. He also established
restrictions on the indiscriminate slaughter of the island
seal population which was in danger of extinction.
Vernet sought to enforce his control by seizing the
American ship Harriet for engaging in what he considered
illegal sealing. He brought the ship and captain to Buenos
Aires for trial. The American consul in the city, with
encougagement from the British consul, protested the arrest
claiming that American ships were free to do as they wished
since America had never recognized Argentina's presence on
the islands. Fortunately for the consul and unfortunately
for the Argentines, the American warship USS Lexington was
in port. The American consul ordered the ship to the Falk-
lands to recover the confiscated cargo of the Harriet.
The Lexington's commander, Captain Silas Duncan ex-
ceeded his orders and not only recovered the confiscated
sealskins but also sacked the settlement building and
arrested most of the inhabitants. He then declared the
islands "free of all government" and sailed away.6 By
forcing the Argentines from the Falklands as he did, he may
have provided distant provocation for events leading to the
The British took advantage of the situation. In 1833
two ships under Captain James Onslow captured the islands.
Outgunned, the few remaining Argentines were forced to leave
the islands. With the exception of several months during
1982, the British firmly controlled the Falklands ever since.
But the Argentines never abandoned their claim in the Falk-
lands and pressed for decades to regain the islands through
negotiation. A few stubborn attempts at settlement were
mounted in the interim. In 1842, Buenos Aires objected
when Britain declared a colonial administration over the
Falklands. In the 1880s when the borders between Argentina
and Chile were being established, Argentina again asked for
the islands back. In 1908 Britain declared sovereignty over
uninhabited territory south of the Falklands to include
South Georgia and the Orkney and Shetland Island under the
Falkland Islands Dependency. Argentina protested, claiming
the islands were hers and initiated a further half century
of triangular squabbling between Britain, Argentina and
Chile. Each country would sail south, put down plaques,
build sheds and retreat in the face of difficult weather.7
Juan Peron came to power in 1945. He stimulated
feelings of nationalism. Although he considered the Falk-
lands to have no economic and only minimal strategic value,
the Argentine schools were instructed to teach "The Malvinas
are Argentine" which was even set to music. Thus, an entire
generation grew up believing the British "occupation" was an
affront to national pride. It is no surprise that recon-
quest of the islands was not a political objective but was
perceived as a challenge to national honor. Invasion seemed
Juan Peron was succeeded in power by a series of offi-
cials including Lieutenant General Jorge Videla, General
Roberto Viola and finally, in December 1981, General
Leopoldo Galtieri. Just prior to assuming power Galtieri
met with the commander of the naval forces, Admiral Jorge
Anaya. The two reportedly reached an understanding that the
recovery of the Falklands should be achieved within the two
years of Galtieri's term as president, ideally before
January 1983, the 150th anniversary of the British seizure.
The majority of the glory would go to the navy in whose
sphere of responsibility the Falklands lay. So thought
Galtieri had good reason to believe in the chances for
success. The British treasury had shown not the slightest
interest in development of the islands. The Antarctic
supply ship HMS Endurance was due to be withdrawn from the
Falklands. The islanders had been denied full British
nationality and the British Antarctic survey station on
South Georgia Island was about to be closed for lack of
funds. If ever a country appeared tired of its colonial
responsibilities, Britain was one.9
It has been suggested that General Galtieri envisioned
the invasion of the Falklands as a distraction to divert
people's minds from both political repression and economic
calamity.10 This may be at least part of the reason, the
Argentinians did have much to complain about. At that time,
the country was experiencing an annual inflation rate of
nearly 150% and an unemployment rate of 13%.11 The invasion
certainly improved (however temporarily) his popularity.
But it is likely the timing was more nearly contingent on
international conditions that looked especially favorable
to an invasion.
The conquest of the Falklands and the ineffective
defense against the British counterattack followed three
political miscalculations. The first (British)--that
Argentina would not seek to take by force what had been
denied by negotiation, the second and third (Argentine)--
that Britain would not react with force and that in any
event, America would not support such a move. These mis-
judgments represented stark political and diplomatical
It has been stated the Galtieri administration based
their assumptions on their observations of British actions
in South Atlantic. The minimal size of the Royal Marine
detachments on South Georgia Island and at Stanley and the
perceived lack of British will to project power over such
great distances gave the Argentine leaders a false impression
that Britain was neither capable nor committed to protecting
her interests in the area. Had the British initially kept a
creditable forward deployed presence in the islands or even
periodically demonstrated some "presence" in the South
Atlantic, her commitment to the islands might have been more
evident and Argentina might have been more cautious before
initiating military action to gain control of the Falklands.13
However, Britain cannot take all the "blame" for having
failed to establish an effective deterrent to Argentine
action. One must also consider the nature of the Argentine
males. From the time they are schoolboys, they are brought
up in a male dominated society. Argentine officials felt
safe in invading the islands because the reasoned that since
no woman would want a war, no woman would politically direct
a war, and Mrs. Thatcher was therefore the weak cog in the
British military machine. Once the islands were invaded and
she quickly assumed command, the Argentines were startled.
They had underestimated Margaret Thatcher!14
The Argentine assumption that the United States would
not become involved in the conflict was also off base but
rational from their point of view. Argentina was gaining
increasing favor with the Reagan administration. Galtieri
had personally met with Defense Secretary Weinberger and
National Security Adviser Richard Allen. They had parted
on friendly terms. The United States, early on, assiduously
attempted to avoid becoming involved in the conflict in the
favor of either side. Secretary of State Haig went to con-
siderable trouble to get a peaceful settlement. Forced to
pick sides, the United States had to support its most trusted
ally and sided against the aggressor. Argentina was again
caught off guard.
The Argentines began the attack to regain control of
the Falklands on 2 April 1982. At 0300 the Argentine sub-
marine Sante Fe landed twenty commandos to secure a beach-
head at Port Stanley. These were followed by eighty com-
mandos from the guided missile destroyer Santissima Trinidad
who assaulted the Royal Marine barracks. At 0630 the main
force of Argentine Marines and twenty LVTs were disembarked
from the landing ship Cabo San Antonio to secure the airport
and harbor area while the aircraft carrier Vienticino De
Mayo with 1500 army troops aboard waited just outside the
Stanley harbor.15 Apparently aircraft were not used during
The following day, Argentine troops landed by heli-
copter on South Georgia Island. In both cases, the Royal
Marines were waiting for the Argentines and gave good
account of themselves before being overwhelmed by superior
numbers. Thus closed the short first chapter of the Falk-
lands war. To help line up events for the ensuing actions,
a full chronology is provided in Appendix (A).
The Falklands/Malvinas conflict provided a number of
combat situations that are worthy of analysis. This report
however, focuses only on those aspects related to air defense
of the fleet. In some respects the Falklands conflict re-
affirmed old operational and tactical lessons from World
War II and Korea, but there were several "firsts" which may
impact on U.S. Navy or USMC combat operational concepts,
weapons procurement or training. Some of these include:
The first use of modern air launched cruise
missiles against warships of a major navy.
The first use of helicopters in an anti-
shipping role employing guided missiles.
The first time since World War II a major
navy has fought an opponent that employed
air, surface, and sub-surface forces against
The first time since World War II that
sustained air attacks were made against
The first combat employment of shipboard
surface-to-air guided missiles to defend
surface naval forces against sustained
The first use of nuclear attack submarines
The first use of high performance V/STOL
aircraft in combat.
The first use of passive night vision goggles
by helicopter crews for the movement of troops
This paper will discuss many of these firsts and
describe the methods used by Argentine and Britain to
initiate or counter them.
SUMMARY OF OPPOSING FORCES
The Falklands/Malvinas conflict was fought between two
very different countries possessing remarkably different
skills and capabilities. At the strategic level Argentina,
a continental power with maritime leanings, challenged a
maritime power that had almost persuaded itself to adopt a
At the onset British forces were essentially unprepared
to conduct such an operation so far from home ports and
bases. Prior to and until the early 1960s Britain had a
global defense strategy to protect overseas territories.
During the late 60s and early 70s this policy faltered.
Reduction of overseas defense commitments, increased per-
ceptions of Soviet threats and public demands for smaller
defense budgets caused the country (and therefore the de-
fense forces) to assume a more regional posture. It was
generally believed that future conflicts involving Great
Britain would be fought in Europe. For that reason the
requirement for an opposed landing capability had been
deleted.2 A transition to helicopter carriers away from the
angled-deck conventional takeoff carriers was a reflection of
this new regional emphasis. Helicopter carriers would
henceforth be antisubmarine warfare oriented. The few Sea
Harriers onboard were intended to deal with shadowing enemy
aircraft, but were never intended to wrest air superiority
over a beachhead.3 The requirements of British NATO obli-
gations required the nation to station both a large army and
a tactical air force in Europe. The navy concentrated its
efforts on the North Atlantic to guard reinforcement and
resupply shipping in wartime. Because the primary potential
aggressor was considered to be the Soviet Union, British
forces were designed for a high level threat inside a
narrowly defined area. Weapons were becoming both expensive
and highly specialized. For example: the army needed a
main battle tank; the air force had concentrated on the very
expensive Tornado aircraft; and the navy was specializing in
ASW, relying heavily on air cover from both shore based air-
craft and the American carrier fleet.4 As we in the U.S.
have experienced in our own defense budget, high priced
items absorbed so much money there was little left for
smaller items. The Royal Air Force Harrier remained in
inventory but was now limited to a ground attack role; the
airborne forces were reduced as was much of the air trans-
The Falklands conflict exposed the disadvantages of
limited and highly specialized forces.
The land forces used were the few available mobile,
uncommitted forces--Paratroops, Royal Marines, and
Gurkhas--not the main battle tank.
The primary aircraft was the Harrier, a subsonic,
vertical take off and landing airplane, not the
high tech Toronado.
Ships which had become specialists in ASW found
themselves dangerously exposed with too few
fighters, no early warning radar, not enough
close range guns, and in many cases, obsolete
The British Ministry of Defense had no contingency
plans for military operations in the Falklands--the entire
operation was an example of rapid mobilization and extensive,
imaginative improvisation. The Task Force was assembled and
began departing the United Kingdom just three days after the
Argentines occupied the Falklands. Eventually the Task
Force counted more than 120 ships. Only two capital ships
sailed--the small aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and HMS
Invincible. The remainder of the force included 43 warships,
22 Royal Fleet Auxiliaries and 62 merchant ships taken up
from trade. Nineteen of these ships were fitted to operate
helicopters (two also delivered Harriers). A small number
of ships were fitted with 20mm or 40mm antiaircraft guns.6
A summary of the major Royal Navy warships is provided
Click here to view image
Rapid formation of the Task Force was facilitated by
the availability of merchant ships due to the depressed
economic conditions of the shipping industry and the laws
of the United Kingdom which enabled hasty inclusion of these
For antiair defense, the British surface ships were
armed with varying combinations of Sea Wolf, Sea Cat, Sea
Dart or Sea Slug missiles, 4.5 inch guns and 40mm and 20mm
Great Britain operated helicopters from two aircraft
carriers as well as all destroyers, frigates, amphibious
ships and most auxiliary ships. Helicopter types included
the lightweight Lynx and Wasp, the versatile Sea King
(equal to the U.S. Navy H3) and the heavy lift Chinook.8
Although a few long-range Vulcan bombers did make
single aircraft attacks on the islands, the only ship based
fixed wing aircraft was the Harrier. Two models were in-
volved: The Navy Sea Harrier carrying the AIM-9L side-
winder missile was better equipped to fight in an air-to-air
or air intercept role. The total number of Sea Harriers in
the Atlantic never exceeded twenty-two. The Royal Air Force
GR MK3 was primarily used as a close air support and recon-
The Argentine surface forces could have presented a
formidable challenge to the British task force. The largest
Argentine surface vessel was the aircraft carrier Veinticinco
De Mayo. Originally constructed by the British during World
War II, the ship was operated by the Dutch between 1948
through 1968 before being sold to the Argentines. Dis-
placing 19,896 tons, it has an angled deck, a single steam
catapult, a normal complement of 8-10 Skyhawks; 5 S-2A ASW
aircraft and up to 4 helicopters. When first built, it was
capable of 24.5 knots but 22-23 knots is now a more reason-
able figure. The ship got underway only once following the
initial invasion. According to Argentine sources the task
group encountered near-calm conditions in its operating area
northwest of the Falklands (verified by the Royal Navy) and
was simply unable to move fast enough to generate adequate
wind over the deck for launching A-4 aircraft mounting a
weapons load of two 500 pound bombs each.9 Consequently,
the Argentine task group commander refused to risk the air-
craft. Although the ship had had a history of propulsion
problems dating back to service with the Dutch Navy10 the
loss of the Argentine cruiser General Belgrano may have
made the navy reluctant to risk the only remaining capital
ship. Ship's aircraft, however, did operate against British
forces from land based airfields. Modifications to the ship
to permit its operation of the new Super Etendard aircraft
were incomplete and there was no shipboard employment during
the war. As with the Argentine Navy A-4 aircraft, the
Etendards operated from land.
The other large Argentine vessel was the ill-fated
light cruiser--General Belgrano. A World War II veteran,
the ship was formerly operated by the United States Navy.
While it is true the ship was quite old, its fifteen six
inch guns nevertheless posed a significant threat to the
British fleet. Although the Argentine Navy lost several
other vessels in the South Atlantic conflict, the sinking
of the Belgrano early in the war was the only significant
loss. Belgrano was sunk by a British submarine before it
was able to fire a shot, and it may be said (tongue-in-
cheek) that the ship did save the remainder of the Argentine
fleet. After the sinking of the Belgrano, the Argentines
were so concerned with the British submarine threat that
most surface vessels spent the remainder of the war in port.
The Argentines had a single amphibious landing ship, a
moderate number of patrol craft and auxiliaries and six
Exocet missile equipped destroyers. These operated in the
area of the Falklands during the early days of the conflict.
The only vessels, however, which actually operated against
British forces after the first assault at Stanley were
The Argentine Navy began the conflict with four diesel
submarines.11 Two were former U.S. "GUPPY" class vessels,
one of which was so plagued with maintenance problems it
was stripped of spare parts and used to keep the other
vessel of the class operational. This second "Guppy", the
Sante Fe, had been used as a troop transport and not an
attack vessel. For example, the Sante Fe delivered twenty
commandos in the predawn landing that began the assault on
Stanley on April 2, 1983. After delivering forty Argentine
Marines to help fortify the island of South Georgia on 25
April, the Sante Fe was spotted on the surface leaving
Grytviken harbor by a British Wessex helicopter. The crew
of the helicopter dropped two depth charges which damaged
the submarine, preventing it from diving. A Lynx helicopter
next attacked the submarine with a torpedo which failed to
detonate but caused the vessel to return to the harbor. A
WASP helicopter then attacked the submarine with an air-to-
surface missile which punched a hole in the conning tower,
convincing the beleagured commander to beach the vessel
where it was finally captured by British forces.12
The other two submarines were West German "Type 209"
vessels built in 1974--Salta and San Luis. The Salta saw
no action but the San Luis, also suffering from maintenance
problems, did operate against the Royal Navy. Foreign
technicians returning from Argentina reported that the San
Luis deployed in mid-April with one of its four diesel
engines inoperative the main torpedo fire control system
inoperative and a crew which had experienced a fifty percent
turnover only a week earlier. The fatal blow in the ship's
performance, however, was a reversal of two wires in the
target angle synchro in the emergency fire control panel.
The problem was compounded by an apparent failure on the
part of the operators to realize that the panel then had no
provision for feedback from the wire-guided torpedos after
they were launched.13 They, therefore, couldn't give the
torpedo command guidance enroute to its target.
The San Luis reportedly did manage to conduct an attack.
The submarine fired three MK 37 and three or four West
German SST-4 torpedoes at surface ship targets. All were
reportedly fired at ranges of 8000 yards with the submarine
at maximum operating depth. No hits were achieved. The
submarine subsequently returned to its base. Apparently
that submarine spent the remainder of the war in port while
technicians attempted to repair the fire control computers.14
The Argentines had a formidable Air Force which in-
cluded U.S. built A-4B Skyhawks, Lear jets, and C-130s,
British built Canberra bombers, Israeli M5 Daggers and
French built M3 Mirages and Super Etendards. Most of these
aircraft were of very old design. For example, the A-4
first flew in 1954, the Mirage III and V prototypes in 1956.15
While these aircraft were operated out of airfields on the
Argentine mainland, the Argentines flew their own turbo-prop
ground attack aircraft, the Pucara, from several Falkland
airfields.16 A discussion of tactics may be found later in
THE SUPER ETENDARD
The most capable, most modern aircraft in the Argentine
Navy inventory was the French built Dassault Breguet Super
Etendard tactical jet. Primarily a subsonic attack aircraft
(maximum speed 640 knots), the Etendard carries two 30mm
cannon and can be loaded with bombs, rockets, or additional
fuel tanks. The aircraft can also be fitted with the Matra
Magic air-to-air missile for a limited anti-air role. The
Etendard's primary mission in the Argentine Navy, however,
involves the launching of the Exocet AM-39 missile.1
The Argentines ordered fourteen of the Super Etendard
aircraft from France in 1979. Plans called for a ten plane
squadron with four aircraft in reserve. To insure the
highest level of training for the pilots, they added a Super
Etendard flight simulator. This simulator had not arrived
prior to the South Atlantic conflict.
By the start of the South Atlantic conflict in early
April, the pilots had accumulated an average of only 90
flight hours each. None had received any training in the
delivery of the Exocet missile. French technicians were to
have made the missile operational in April of 1982 but had
been recalled to France once the war erupted.2
Thus the Navy's Super Etendard squadron actually began
the war with just five aircraft, five Exocet missiles, and
no training in the employment of the missile. To top it off,
the necessary modifications to the carrier Vienticino De Mayo
had not been completed in time for the aircraft to be deployed
The pilots improvised their own training and tactics,
however, and did get limited assets combat ready. Flying
from shore bases they conducted a total of ten sorties,
launched all five missiles, and scored two or three hits,
destroying two ships and shocking the world with the lethal-
ity of the advanced weapon system. It is interesting to
speculate as to the impact the aircraft might have made on
the British fleet were more Exocet missiles available at the
time of hostilities.
THE EXOCET MISSILE
Probably no other weapon of the South Atlantic conflict
captured more attention than the Esocet missile. To be sure,
it did not mark the first sinking of a ship by a sea-skimming
missile. The Israeli destroyer Eliat had been sunk by Soviet
missiles fired by Egyptians in the 1967 war. There were
other reports of the use of anti-shipping missiles during
the Iran-Iraq war which had begun in 1980.1 Nonetheless,
those instances were generally ignored, probably because
they were fights among vessels belonging to third rate
navies. The sinking of HMS Sheffield, a ship belonging to a
major seagoing nation, took the whole world by surprise.
The fact that a $50 million vessel could be sunk by a single
hit with a relatively inexpensive ($250,000) missile was
shocking to say the least.
The French designed Exocet AM-39 missile used by the
Argentines is the aircraft launched version of the widely
used Exocet anti-shipping missile.2 The AM-39 has a two
stage solid fuel rocket motor with a burn time of approxi-
mately 150 seconds. This gives the missile a high cruising
speed of Mach .93 at a height of only 6-10 feet and a range
of approximately thirty miles. The missile is 15 feet long,
has a warhead of 360 pounds and a total weight of 1430
pounds.3 The AM-39 version receives target range and
direction data from an I-Band radar in the Super Etendard
aircraft prior to launch. The guidance system consists of
inertial guidance followed by active radar homing when the
missile approaches five miles from the target.4
A total of five AM-39 missiles, the entire Argentine
inventory at the start of the conflict, were fired.5 One
missile struck HMS Sheffield and one, possible two, struck
the container ship Atlantic Conveyor. Curiously, it is
believed that neither (or none) of the warheads exploded.
Rather, the ships were destroyed by fires which were started
by the still burning rocket motors. Authorities are reluc-
tant to speculate why the warheads failed to detonate. Be-
cause the two vessels sank, no missile parts could be re-
covered for analysis.
None of the AM-38 missiles (the ship launched version
of the Exocet) installed aboard Argentine Navy ships were
fired from their vessels. Several AM-38s, however, were
removed from the ships and fastened to truck trailers for
use as land-based mobile anti-ship batteries. At least two
missiles were fired from these shore based launchers. One
struck HMS Glamorgan and exploded, destroying the ship's
helicopter and hanger, but did not sink the ship.6
One of the key factors in the South Atlantic conflict
was harsh weather.
The climate is marked by low temperatures and high
winds. The mean daily temperatures vary between 57OF in
summer and 20oF in winter. The average rainfall is about
27 inches annually, spread evenly throughout the year. Snow
falls about fifty days in a year.1 The strength and persis-
tence of the wind is the most notorious feature of the
Falklands. Visitors to the islands as far back as the 17th
century complained about the difficult weather. A passenger
with Captain John Davis wrote,
The 14th wee were driven in among certain Isles
never before discovered...in which place unlesse
it had pleased God of His wonderfull mercie to
have ceased the wind, wee must of necessitie have
The winds blow at more than 20 knots 64% of the time through-
out the year. This means steep seas and regular gale force
winds for ships operating offshore, particularly in winter
which was the period for most of the South Atlantic conflict.
Weather experienced by the RN Task Force generally
followed a nine day cycle. Strong gale force winds would
rapidly build and the sea state would deteriorate. The blow
would last for about three days during which operations were
very difficult followed by three days of relatively calm
seas and winds with low ceilings and poor visibility. This
was generally followed by three days of unlimited visibility
and calm seas.3
The weather worked to the advantage of both sides. It
permitted the British to put their forces ashore at San
Carlos during poor flying weather, but cleared shortly
thereafter, allowing Argentine air attacks which resulted
in severe damage to the British forces.
In addition to the harsh weather, the latitude of the
islands and the season of the year combine to limit the
amount of daylight available. One British Harrier pilot
wrote in a letter that "daylight begins at 1100 and darkens
at 1730."4 The Argentine aviation units did not have an all
weather day-night capability and therefore avoided adverse
weather, limiting attacks to daylight hours. Their ground
forces had superior night vision equipment but they did not
capitalize on the advantage. In contrast, the British were
able to use darkness to protect themselves from Argentine
air attack as well as to launch infantry attacks against
the Argentine Army.
Both Argentine and British forces made minimal use of
electronic warfare techniques, due primarily to the limited
equipment available to the engaged forces.
The British lack of airborne early warning (AEW) capa-
bility has been well documented. Surely this was one of the
most serious deficiencies of the Royal Navy in the war.
What has been overlooked by many is that passive electronic
warfare SIGINT (signals intelligence), and communications
receivers could have provided much of the warning against
the aircraft and Exocet missile attacks despite the lack of
AEW aircraft. However, as evidenced by the success of three
of the four Exocet attacks, British SIGINT provided the
ships with little warning of the missiles. Analysts have
stated that these results are unrealistic and more emphasis
needs to be placed on equipment and readiness factors to
ensure that SIGINT is used more effectively.1 They state
that shipboard SIGINT existed at the time but problems of
coordination prevented timely utilization of vital infor-
A discrepancy in the British task force was the lack
of an aircraft carrier with conventional takeoff and landing
facilities for the Gannet AEW aircraft and the lack of long-
range, shore based AEW Nimrod aircraft (similar in capability
to the USAF AWACS aircraft). Had either Gannet or Nimrod
been available, better air raid warning would have allowed
more effective use of Sea Harriers in meeting the Argentine
air attacks. Additionally, shipboard surface to air
missiles would have been better alerted prior to each
attack. It is unlikely that a fixed wing military V/STOL
AEW aircraft will ever be built, but an AEW helicopter has
already been developed by the British. The necessary equip-
ment fits onto the SEA King helicopter airframe. This air-
craft has the flexibility of operating from ships other than
Tactics used by the Argentine air force against the
British fleet made the aircraft difficult to defend against.
In addition to problems of detecting low flying, high speed
aircraft, the weapons employed by the Argentines were impos-
sible to defend against once released. The Argentine Air
Force did not use "smart" weapons, and relied instead upon
iron bombs or unguided rockets. (The Exocet missiles
operated by the Argentine Navy are exceptions) While it
is technically possible, although difficult, to decoy some
guided weapons, it is impossible to divert an unguided bomb
after low altitude release. The Royal Navy was fortunate
that many of the bombs simply failed to explode. On the
other hand, because basic bombs are unguided, Argentine
pilots were forced to fly closer to targets and were there-
fore more exposed to withering British missile defenses.
The Argentine aircraft did not use any electronic counter-
measures to degrade Royal Navy missiles. The typical
Argentine tactic was to delay facing the missiles by flying
low or using the nearby land mass for terrain masking. When
possible, multiple aircraft formations were also used.
(Some Royal Navy fire control computers had difficulty
separating two closely spaced targets.)
In contrast, the British did use active ECM aboard
certain aircraft. Vulcan bombers which attacked the Falk-
lands on several occasions carried active ECM equipment
which may have blocked out the Fledermaus radar used by the
Argentines for directing Roland surface to air missiles
based at Stanley. It is significant that no Vulcan was lost
on any of the missions.3
The British also made wide use of chaff to confuse
enemy radar. Lacking automatic dispensors, chaff was packed
between aircraft and bomb cases so that when weapons were
released a chaff cloud was created to automatically protect
the aircraft. The British believe this was effective
against Argentine radar controlled defenses. Many of the
surface ships also employed chaff to defend against the
Exocet missile, but it is unknown whether the chaff success-
fully countered an Exocet missile. It is interesting to
note, however, that the Atlantic conveyour had no chaff, nor
did Sheffield dispense the chaff it had.4 It has also been
speculated that the Atlantic Conveyor was hit by a missile
that was deflected from its intended target, a nearby air-
craft carrier.5 The Atlantic Conveyor, in effect, became a
superb decoy, albeit a very expensive one. We will never
know if that was the case. It does highlight the require-
ment for antiair protection for assets such as the non-
combatant Atlantic Conveyor. One possible solution would
be a roll on-roll off EW van with ESM, ECM and chaff launchers
which could be fitted aboard commercial shipping during times
There have also been several questions raised concerning
the use of helicopters in an Exocet decoy role.7 Although
no details have been released by official British sources it
is possible that some helicopters towed a radar corner
reflector similar to the manner in which a surface ship
might do with an acoustic torpedo decoy. Since neither the
carriers reportedly being protected nor the decoys themselves
were attacked by Exocet missiles, it was not possible to
judge the effectiveness of such a surmised decoy.
BRITISH LAND BASED AIRCRAFT
The British aviation forces were at a severe disadvan-
tage when the fleet arrived in the Falklands. In addition
to being greatly outnumbered, the Royal Navy had no land
based aviation assets nor any airfields in that portion
of the South Atlantic that could apply pressure against the
Argentines. To make matters worse, the opponents possessed
not only good land based airfields in Argentina but they
held a vital runway at Stanley as well. Although the Stanley
runway was too short for use by high performance aircraft,
the British were concerned that the runway might be somehow
lengthened to permit tactical jet strikes against the British
fleet. In its original condition the field could be well
used by C-130's or Pucara close air support aircraft. The
Royal Air Force attempted to even the score.
At 4:23 A.M. on May 1st, a single long-range Vulcan
bomber dropped twenty-one 1,000 pound bombs onto the airport
at Stanley. One bomb punched a twenty foot hole squarely in
the runway, another damaged the edge of the runway and the
remaining nineteen were marched across the airport damaging
equipment and destroying several aircraft.1
The significance of the bombing mission is not that
one bomb struck the runway but that such an attack could be
carried out at all.
The nearest land based airfield available to the British
was Wideawake Airport on Ascension Island. Located just
south of the equator near the western coast of Africa,
Ascension Island is 3,400 nautical miles from the Falklands.
There were far too few long-range aircraft in the British
inventory, and none could fly that far on internal fuel
Great Britain's recent restructure of its forces to
concentrate against the Soviet threat in the NATO area in-
cluded the phase out of strategic bombing missions within
the Royal Air Force. Most long-range bombers and refueling
aircraft were decommissioned. Only a few Vulcan squadrons
The Vulcan is a very large aircraft. Its wide delta
wings span 111 feet and the aircraft maximum gross weight
exceeds 200,000 pounds. These aging aircraft, which first
flew during the 1950s, had the longest range of any RAF
aircraft but still lacked the reach to fly out to the Falk-
lands and return. Although originally designed to deliver
a nuclear warhead, the airplane could carry up to 22,000
pounds of conventional ordnance over a much reduced distance.2
As with any aircraft, as required range increases, available
bomb load decreases. When equipped with auxiliary fuel tanks
the range could be increased to 4,600 miles but a smaller
bomb load was featured. The British recognized that inflight
refueling would be necessary but that this would not be the
only problem. Vulcan aircrews who had previously concentrated
on the delivery of nuclear weapons suddenly had to be re-
qualified in conventional ordnance as well as inflight re-
fueling techniques. Since no air to air refuelings of the
Vulcan had been carried out since 1967, many of the fuel
probes of the aircraft had deteriorated. In fact, some
spare parts had to be retrieved from museum aircraft
throughout the world. Each aircraft also received essential
inertial navigation equipment and a Westinghouse AN/ALQ 101
electronic countermeasures pod. A total of five aircraft
were so readied.3
The successful flight of the single Vulcan on May 1
was a marvel of coordination. A total of ten tanker air-
craft were required, some refueling the Vulcan, some ex-
tending the range of the other tankers and some refueling
the Vulcan on its return flight. Because of the limited
number of RAF tanker assets and the cramped facilities at
Wideawake airfield only one Vulcan could be supported for
These aircraft flew at altitudes between 27,000 and
32,000 feet for most of the mission. In order to avoid
detection by Argentine radar at Stanley, the aircraft
descended to 250 feet during the final 300 miles to the
target.4 The bomber then climbed to 10,000 feet just prior
to weapon release to enhance ordnance penetration potential.
The aircraft returned to Ascension after flying a total of
fifteen hours. These flights were the longest bombing
mission in the history of air warfare. Although only one
bomb of the first stick struck the runway with two subse-
quent raids on 4 May and 11 June failing to hit the runway,
the operations proved to the Argentines that the "British
were coming". The attacks also convinced the Argentines
that basing of Argentine tactical jet aircraft in the Falk-
lands was impractical. The single bomb hit damaged the run-
way sufficiently to prevent its use by the high performance
Super Etendard or Skyhawk aircraft. The threat of future
attacks added to the fear of losing valuable jet aircraft
at Stanley. Finally, the bombing raids caused the Argentines
to fear an air attack on the mainland, causing them to retain
some Mirage aircraft and Roland missiles for defense. Un-
fortunately the British Secretary of State for Defense
announced sometime later that Britain would not bomb targets
on the Argentine mainland.5 This statement was undoubtedly
welcomed by the Argentine military command because it per-
mitted the very limited number of Roland SAM's to be deployed
around the airfield at Stanley.
The Vulcan bombing raids against Port Stanley airfield
highlighted the difficulty of interdicting a runway, espe-
cially one built on solid rock. The British, therefore,
shifted their emphasis to the Argentine surveillance radar
on Mount Tumbledown in East Falkland. This system was
important to the Argentine defense of the island, and a
threat to both British aircraft and fleet. It was apparent
that the Argentines were using the radar to locate British
ships by both observing the ships on the radar screens or
by tracking British aircraft recovering aboard their carrier.
Originally, the Vulcan was fitted to carry a Martel air
to surface anti-radar missile but there was some concern
over the missile's ability to withstand an eight hour flight
at altitudes above 25,000 feet. It was, therefore, decided
to switch to the U.S. built Shrike which had already been
used in Vietnam.6 Two Vulcan missions to employ the missile
were aborted on 13 and 28 May--the former due to adverse
weather enroute, the latter when an inflight refueling probe
A third mission on the evening of 30 May did reach the
Falklands but it was unsuccessful. A radar homing missile
such as the Shrike is not passive but transmits a signal of
its own as it homes on the transmission of its target. This
energy can be detected even before the missile is launched.
The enemy's most effective countermeasure is simply to shut
the radar down, giving the missile nothing to home in on.
This method was effectively used by the North Vietnamese
when attacked with the missile years ago. Some missiles
were launched, but no information has been released con-
cerning the effectiveness of this attack nor the following
raid on 3 June.7 It is likely, then, that the radar facil-
ity was not put out of action.
The Vulcan crew conducting the attack on 3 June had an
anxious moment on the return flight to Ascension Island.
When attempting to refuel from a waiting tanker the tip of
the Vulcan's fuel probe was broken, preventing any further
refueling. The flight crew had to divert to neutral Rio de
Janeiro, Brazil. After being held by that country for a
week, the flight crew and aircraft were released, but only
after its payload including missiles had been removed.8
The final Vulcan flight of the war, indeed the final
operational flight of the now-retired aircraft occurred on
11 June. Although twenty-one 1,000 pound bombs were again
dropped on the Stanley airfield, none of the weapons actually
hit the runway. Further flights were unnecessary. The
Argentines surrendered at Stanley three days later. As an
interesting sidelight, it has been reported that the Argen-
tines sometimes bulldozed dummy bomb craters on the Stanley
runway after an attack to make the British believe their
raids were more successful than they really were. The
British were not fooled.9
The question of why the Argentines did not attempt to
lengthen the Stanley runway has been the topic of many
discussions since the end of the war. The answer is probably
a combination of three factors. First there were physical
difficulties. The extension of the western end of the field
would have required a major construction effort--more than
the Argentines could accomplish in the time available. The
eastern end could have been extended, however, by 2000 feet
with metal matting. Secondly, the equipment needed to
extend the runway would have had to run the British sea
blockade. Thirdly, before construction equipment could be
moved in, the attacks on the runway by the Vulcan and
Harrier aircraft probably convinced the Argentines that it
would be too dangerous to base tactical jet aircraft at
Stanley. They, therefore, limited their use of the field
to helicopters, Pucara turbo prop aircraft and an occasional
THE HARRIER IN THE AIR DEFENSE ROLE
Sea Harriers went to the South Atlantic with three
1. Support any amphibious assault that might be
2. Gain absolute air superiority over the Falklands.
3. Protect the Task Force.1
The Harriers supported the amphibious assault at San Carlos
and did attempt to protect the task force, but they never
gained absolute air superiority. This chapter will discuss
the many successes and the few shortcomings of the Royal
Navy Sea Harrier and RAF-GR.3.
Because the British Navy has been structured to be
essentially an ASW force with reliance on land based air-
craft for air defense, its anti-air capability in the South
Atlantic was very limited. Lacking large conventional carriers,
the Royal Navy was forced to go to war with only two short
vertical takeoff and landing (V/STOL) ships and their V/STOL
aircraft, the Harrier. However, despite their deficiencies,
these units performed very well. It has been stated that
had the British not had aircraft with the capabilities of
the Harrier (V/STOL, high reliability, and high availability)
and the two small ships to operate them, it is unlikely the
United Kingdom would have committed itself to hostilities in
the South Atlantic.
Principally a tactical jet airplane, Harrier has the
unique ability to rotate its exhaust nozzles forward to
permit the aircraft to land and take off vertically or after
a very short takeoff roll. Its chief advantage to the Royal
Navy is its ability to operate from small aircraft carriers
without the need for the bulky catapults or arresting cables
found on the larger U.S. Navy carriers. In an era when the
United Kingdom was reducing its global force projection navy
to that of a NATO antisubmarine warfare force, the Harrier
was an economical answer.
Although the price paid for the V/STOL capability was
a lack of supersonic speed with reduced payload and radius
of action, the aircraft nevertheless performed admirably in
combat. Perhaps its greatest feature was surprising flexi-
bility. Some Harriers were flown by Royal Air Force pilots
who had never seen an aircraft carrier, yet they deployed
the aircraft to the ships and operated from them the next
day. Other Harriers were ferried to the South Atlantic
aboard the container ship Atlantic Conveyor and later flown
to the carriers. After British forces landed in the Falk-
lands, a temporary landing site was established ashore with
metal matting to enhance the capability of the aircraft.
On one occasion the temporary airfield was unavailable for
two Harriers returning from a combat air patrol mission low
on fuel. These aircraft were able to divert to helicopter
landing pads on board the amiphibious landing ships HMS
Fearless and HMS Intrepid. Without vertical landing
capability, the aircraft might have been lost.
The Harrier achieved an unusually high aircraft avail-
ability record despite the fact that hanger space aboard the
small carriers was limited. Most of the maintenance per-
sonnel performed repairs on the flight deck--often during
darkness and harsh weather. Nonetheless, the Harriers
suffered no losses due to aircraft malfunctions.
Two models of the Harrier were operated during the
South Atlantic conflict. The Harrier GR MK-3 was the Royal
Air Force version, primarily intended as a ground attack
aircraft. The Navy version was the Sea Harrier. Both air-
craft had identical performance characteristics and were
similar in appearance, the most noticeable difference being
in the nose of the aircraft. Because the Royal Air Force
Harrier lacked an air-to-air radar, it was normally reserved
for ground attack missions. Most combat air patrols were
performed by the Sea Harrier. This aircraft was equipped
with the Blue Fox air intercept radar which is similar in
most respects to pulse radars installed in certain U.S. Navy
and Air Force F-4 Phantom fighter aircraft. These radars
are best suited for intercept missions against medium or
high altitude targets. Against low altitude targets over
land or over moderate seas these aircraft (including the
Harrier) have little more than visual, daylight capabilities
to find enemy aircraft. An aircraft configured with an all
weather, look-down, shoot down capability with Sparrow semi-
active radar missiles would have been more suitable during
adverse weather conditions.
The British carriers were much smaller than a typical
U.S. Navy carrier. The larger of the two Royal Navy ships,
Hermes, displaced 28,700 tons, approximately one-third of a
typical U.S. Navy carrier. The Hermes was laid down in 1944
as a ship of the Centaur class and was commissioned as a
fixed wing conventional takeoff and landing carrier, and was
later equipped with two steam catapults, an angled deck and
a deck edge elevator. In 1971-1973 the ship was converted
to service as a commando carrier (LPH), abandoning all fixed
wing aircraft facilities. The ship was further altered during
1976-1977 to serve as an ASW helicopter carrier with the
capability of embarking 1500 marines. In 1980, the ship was
again modified. This time it received a twelve degree, 150
foot by 45 foot "ski jump" to facilitate launching of Harrier.2
Use of the ski jump permitted the aircraft to double bomb
loads or reduce takeoff rolls by one-half.3 The normal air-
craft complement of the ship is five Sea Harriers and twelve
Sea King ASW and troop lift helicopters.
The second British carrier was HMS Invincible. Dis-
placing only 19,960 tons, it is about the size of U.S. Navy
LPH. It too is configured as an ASW/commando ship, having
temporary berthing for 960 marines but a smaller complement
of aircraft than Hermes. Certain design features make it
particularly well suited for aircraft operations. The high
freeboard (sides of the ship) and fin stabilization system
make for a very dry and stable flight deck. There were
reportedly periods during the conflict, however, when the
amount of ordnance piled on deck plus the normal requirement
to keep all aircraft on deck fully fueled placed the ship
outside normal safe stability limitations.
The Invincible also had a "ski jump" ramp at its bow
but only seven degrees (instead of the twelve degree ramp
used by Hermes). British sources have publically claimed
that the bow ramps permitted Harriers to be operated from
the small carriers in the South Atlantic under sea conditions
which would have prevented conventional takeoff and landing
aircraft from operating from HMS ARK Royal (the Royal Navy's
last angle decked carrier).4 It is a remarkable claim.
Harsh weather provided a special challenge to Harrier
flight crews, especially inbound to the carriers. Both
Hermes and Invincible are fitted with an optical night
landing aid similar to the Visual Approach Slope Indicator
(VASI) found at some United States airfields. Although their
system provides adequate visual assistance for the initial
phase of the Harrier night approach (prior to reaching one-
half mile), the system was not effective in providing final
glide slope guidance for the critical transition from forward
flight to a hover. Because the Harrier was so difficult to
land at night, only the most experienced pilots flew after
darkness.5 Despite this caution, however, one Sea Harrier
and pilot were lost on the night of 23/24 May.6
The Hermes and Invincible both lacked a precision
approach system for controlling aircraft on the final portion
of an approach. Despite this handicap, Harrier pilots made
several unassisted recoveries during periods of poor visi-
bility with ceilings below 100 feet.7 Only through superior
airmanship and the aircraft's unique vertical landing
ability were these kinds of recoveries possible. It should
be noted the Sea Harrier (but not the RAF GR.3 nor the U.S.
Marine Corps AV-8A) has a digital avionics system, improved
heads up display, and more responsive hover reaction controls
that eased the pilot's workload during transition to hover.8
A recent U.S. Navy study praised the Harrier's landing
The Harrier's unique vertical landing capability
may prove decisive in nature giving U.S. forces
the advantage over an enemy operating conventional
aircraft. Aircraft design improvements which
enhance all weather landing operations should be
given high priority in present and future V/STOL
One of the best features of the Harrier was versatility
in operating from a variety of platforms under actual combat
conditions. In addition to the aircraft which were trans-
ported to the Falklands by the carriers Hermes and Invinci-
ble, other Harriers were ferried by the container ships,
Atlantic Conveyor and Contender Berant. Fourteen more air-
craft flew nonstop from their home field in Britain to
Ascension and joined the carriers there. Finally, four RAF
GR.3s were flown the entire 7,000 miles from Britain to the
South Atlantic with only a single stop at Ascension Island.10
The Harrier aircraft performed a variety of missions in
the South Atlantic, but the interceptor role gained the
aircraft its acclaim. Accounts of the number of enemy air-
craft destroyed vary between 20 and 31 but equally important
is the large number of enemy sorties broken up before they
reached British forces. It is safe to say the aircraft
played a significant role in reducing the Argentine air
threat to the battle group.
The South Atlantic conflict did not have the long,
swirling air-to-air combats conducted over Britain in 1939
and 1940. On most missions, the Argentine aircraft had
barely enough fuel for a single pass at their target. Often
the Harriers were attacking aircraft which were at the
extreme limits of their operating range and which could not
afford to engage the British aircraft if they expected to
return home. Many times the mere presence of a Harrier was
enough to make the enemy aircraft jettison ordnance and dash
back to base. There was only one instance where the Argen-
tines attempted a full-scale air-to-air battle. On 1 May,
Harriers were challenged by four or five Mirages providing
fighter escorts for an Argentine strike force. The faster
Mirages executed forward hemisphere attacks with what the
British believe were radar guided missiles (Matra R.350).
The Harrier pilots reported that the Argentine flight crews,
after launching their missiles, broke away from the engage-
ments before the missiles could impact the Harriers. The
turning away by the Mirages discontinued the radar illumi-
nation of the British aircraft before the missiles had a
chance to follow the relected radar energy to impact.11
Unguided, the missiles were avoided by the British pilots
and no Harriers were damaged. After that attack, the Argen-
tines used aircraft only to attack the British shipping and
never again challenged Harriers. While the Argentines con-
centrated on the antishipping role, there is evidence that
some of the Argentines devoted all their attention to the
attack and very little to their own defense. British pilots
have claimed that some of the Argentines apparently did not
notice approaching Harriers and often took no evasive action
even after other aircraft in their formation were shot out
of the sky. (It has been reported that the extreme low
flight of the Argentine aircraft caused salt to accumulate,
obscuring windshields). This may have prevented them from
seeing approaching Harriers.12
The Argentine Mirage was much faster than the Harrier.
The British recognized they would be at a decided disadvan-
tage if they tried to combat the Mirage on its own terms
(high speed-high altitude). The British plan, therefore,
was to initially evade combat, using the capability of their
nimble aircraft to rotate its exhaust nozzles in flight so
as to rapidly turn, accelerate or decelerate for several
minutes or so before the Mirages would have exhausted their
reserve fuel. Then, as the Mirages turned back toward their
home bases, the Harriers would move in for the kill. The
British knew one additional fact concerning the Mirage. Be-
cause Mirages had no inflight refueling probe, they flew
with only the fuel on board. Use of afterburner in air-to-
air combat would cause a Mirage to run out of fuel before it
could return to the mainland.13
The British had reason to be confident in their aircraft.
In simulated combat, kill ratios of 2:1 had been claimed by
899 squadron against the U.S. Air Force F-5E and ratios
above 1:1 over the F-15 and F-16.14
The total number of Sea Harriers in the British forces
was extremely limited. The entire aircraft purchase, which
began in 1979, was restricted to 34 aircraft of which two
had not yet flown by the beginning of the war. One aircraft
had already been lost in a training accident long before the
start of the South Atlantic conflict. One of the last two
aircraft on the assembly line was rushed through final tests,
but after subtracting aircraft needed in the United Kingdom
for pilot training and testing of new equipment, only 28 Sea
Harriers were available for combat. Twenty of these aircraft
were aboard Hermes and Invincible when the ships sailed from
Portsmouth. The remainder were delivered by other means.15
Opposing these few aircraft was a force of more than
200 Argentine aircraft of all types. Most numerous were
Mirages and Skyhawks; the most challenging was Super Etendard.
British authorities expected Sea Harrier losses due to
accidents, operational failures or even enemy action. They
knew they would be incapable of replacing the aircraft since
to build a new airframe would require thirty months. The
only remaining option for obtaining additional aircraft was
to use the Royal Air Force's Harrier GR.3. Although the
GR.3s were very similar in appearance to the Sea Harrier,
the airframes were not equipped in the same manner. In
keeping with Britain's defense policy of tailoring its
forces for a NATO battle, the Harrier GR.3 was designed and
deployed for a European conflict. Twelve of the aircraft
were part of the forces assigned to protect the flanks of
NATO in Norway or Turkey, and most of the remaining Harrier
GR.3s were based in West Germany where their primary mission
was to drop cluster bombs on Soviet tanks. Since the
Harrier GR.3 will be the first aircraft to be replaced by
the second generation Harrier, the AV-8B, it was logical
from a broad, Ministry of Defense, point of view to use the
GR.3 to augment the Sea Harrier in the air defense role.
In order to meet the unique operational demands of the
South Atlantic conflict, the British made modifications to
nearly every Royal Navy and RAF Harrier to expand the weapons
systems and extend their operational capabilities. Some of
the changes were already under consideration and needed only
acceleration while others had to be researched, designed,
manufactured and test flown within just a few days.
Some of the changes included U.S. stock material such
as the AGM-45 SHRIKE missile and the ALE-40 chaff/flare
dispenser. The "Blue Fox" radar was installed on the Sea
Harriers. RAF Harriers received a limited capability to
launch the Sidewinder air-to-air missile and the carriage
and release mechanism for Paveway laser guided bombs.16
The harsh weather and salt spray of the South Atlantic
create a highly corrosive atmosphere. The GR.3 lacked many
of the special sealing and drainage equipment found on the
Sea Harrier to reduce this hazard. In addition to the
drainage modifications, the aircraft also needed to be cer-
tified to carry other types of weapons including the two
inch naval rockets and laser guided 1000 pound bombs.
The Harrier GR.3 also experienced difficulties with its
inertial navigation system.17 The Italian made Ferranti
system was not designed to be reoriented on a rolling/
pitching flight deck. (The Sea Harriers which had a dif-
ferent navigation system were not so affected.) The Ferranti
organization quickly designed a trolley-mounted reference
system which was intended to permit rezeroing of the navi-
gation equipment on deck before takeoff. Unfortunately, the
trolley system did not work as well as the Navy had hoped.
Without a reliable navigation system safe operations on a
combat air-to-air mission would have been most difficult.
Perhaps for this reason the GR.3 was not used in more of an
As mentioned earlier, twenty of the Harrier aircraft
initially traveled to the South Atlantic on board Hermes and
Invincible. It had been intended to ferry the remaining
eight Sea Harriers and the RAF Harrier GR.3s aboard the
container ship Atlantic Conveyor. However, as the ship
readied to sail from England on 23 April, it was decided to
delay the fly aboard until the ship reached Ascension Island,
so as to allow extra time for the necessary aircraft
modifications. The Harriers were flown non-stop from England
to the island, a distance of nearly 4000 miles in approxi-
mately nine hours and fifteen minutes (a very uncomfortable
and strenuous ordeal for the Harrier crews). Eight Sea
Harriers and six GR.3s were flown to the Atlantic Conveyor
for transport to the war zone. Several GR.3s were left
behind to serve as air protection at Ascension Island. Two
additional Harriers were flown all the way to Hermes in the
battle zone on 1 June were joined by two more GR.3s a week
later. Four other GR.3s arrived in the Falklands area
aboard the container ship Contender Bezant just after the
surrender of the Argentines.18
The air war for the Falklands began on 1 May. The
British began the action with a predawn attack on the Port
Stanley runway by the Vulcan bomber. This was followed by
dawn attacks on the Port Stanley and Goose Green runways by
the Harriers.19 Most were armed with three 1000 pound bombs
or three BL 755 cluster bombs. A few, armed with Sidewinder
missiles instead of bombs, acted as fighter escorts for the
others. All Harriers flew with two 120 gallon fuel tanks
on the inboard wind pylons. The attacks themselves were not
effective in interdicting the runways, but they did destroy
aircraft and equipment on the ground. Additionally, the
raids served notice to the Argentines that their use of the
runways would be challenged.
The Royal Navy attacked the Port Stanley airfield
simultaneously with naval gunfire. This was the first
attack by the surface force against the island proper.
The Argentines countered the British bombardment with
their first air action of the conflict. This attack was
unique in several ways. The attack was made by three
Canberra bombers flying at medium altitude and escorted by
four Mirage aircraft at high altitude. (This was the first
and only time Argentine aircraft were used as escorts rather
than attack aircraft.) One of the Canberras was shot down
by a Harrier, another Canberra was severely damaged.20 The
credit for the first combat "kill" went to FLT.LT Paul
Barton, a RAF pilot serving with the Navy Sea Harrier Squad-
ron. A third Mirage was lost from a separate high altitude
flight, possibly shot down by the Argentine anti-air defenses
or as the Argentines claim, from a ship launched Sea Dart
The Sea Harrier normally performed its combat air pa-
trols in flights of two. The aircraft were normally loaded
with two fuel tanks, two Sidewinder air-to-air missiles, a
30mm gun and sometimes a 1000 pound bomb which could be used
against enemy patrol boats or to harass enemy airfields.
The aircraft's biggest handicap was shortness of station
time. Because of the threat posed by the Argentine Air
Force to the carriers, the British positioned the ships well
off the Falklands (often 200 miles to the east). As a re-
sult, the Harriers had to devote most of their mission time
to transit to or from their ships. Sometimes, the on station
time was as low as five or ten minutes. When the weather was
favorable, the Harriers flew as many as six, ninety minute
A total of 1,000 Sea Harrier air defense missions were
flown during the conflict with an aircraft availability rate
of more than eighty percent.22
Normally, a fighter from a conventional carrier is re-
fueled enroute to its CAP station and refueled during its
return so as to extend either the range or duration at his
station. Although the Harrier was capable of taking in-
flight refueling, the British carriers had no aircraft capa-
ble of giving fuel. Therefore, the Harriers could burn only
the fuel they had at take off. To save some of this fuel,
the Harriers launched with the ski jump ramp after a short
take off roll and reserved fuel for the return landing.
The Harriers achieved considerable success in shooting
down enemy strike aircraft or at least causing many of them
to jettison bombloads and abort their attacks. They were
not successful in preventing nighttime C-130 supply missions
from reaching Port Stanley. One daylight C-130 was shot
down, however. The Harrier's first missile fell short of
the cargo plane, but the second started a fire on the wing
and 240 rounds of the 30mm gun destroyed the aircraft by
severing one wing at the root.23 Despite that success, and
the best efforts of the British to deny the Argentines the
use of Port Stanley, cargo planes landed nightly, supplying
the Argentines until the last days of the war.
In addition to its air defense role, the Harriers also
conducted strikes against Argentine ships and ground targets.
The Sea Harriers and GR.3s flew a total of 215 attack mis-
sions (the mission the aircraft was designed for), with up
to three 1,000 pound bombs each.24 The Harriers'contribution
to ground forces support was limited, chiefly because of the
paucity of military targets. Additionally, the few prominent
ones were heavily guarded by anti-air artillery (AAA) of 20mm
(Rheinmetall), 30mm (Hispano-Suiza), and 35mm (Oerlikon), up
to altitudes of 28,000 feet.25 Additionally, the Argentines
were equipped with surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) including
the Tigercat (a land based version of the British Seacat),
Roland and Blowpipe missiles.
Several naval targets were also attacked by the Harriers.
On 9 May the aircraft sunk the fishing vessel, Narwal which
had been shadowing the task force. On 16 May, two Argentine
cargo vessels were strafed in the Falkland Sound between the
two major islands. One of the vessels caught fire and was
abandoned by her crew.
When the RAF GR.3s arrived in the war zone in larger
numbers the ground attack role was transferred to them. One
attack on the Argentine fuel dumps at Fox Bay on 20 May was
reported to be "spectacularly successful".26 After the
landings at San Carlos, an auxillary landing site was estab-
lished ashore with AM-2 metal matting. The site was equipped
with a fuel supply so that the Harriers could refuel without
returning to their carrier. Generally, CAP and ground attack
aircraft which had expended their ordnance returned directly
to the ships. Otherwise, the aircraft refueled and if on a
CAP mission took off again and returned to their station.
This procedure permitted the Harriers to extend their average
on station time from ten minutes to fifty minutes, substan-
tially increasing their effectiveness. Aircraft equipped
for a ground attack role could be prepositioned at the San
Carlos site, greatly reducing response time for a close air
support request. The British had planned to install a much
larger expeditionary field but much of the metal matting was
lost when the Atlantic Conveyor was destroyed.
Near the end of the war GR.3s successfully used the
"Paveway" 1,000 pound laser guided bombs against point tar-
gets. Pilots were successful in destroying several Argentine
105mm field artillery pieces.27
The British lost a total of ten Harrier aircraft, six
Sea Harriers and four GR.3s. The first to be lost was a
Sea Harrier shot down by ground fire during an attack on
Goose Green airfield. The pilot, Lt. Nicholas Taylor, RN
was the first of four pilots killed during the conflict.
He was buried with full military honors by the Argentines
in a ceremony of "considerable dignity".28
Two other Sea Harriers and their pilots were lost on 6
May when they failed to return from a flight. It is be-
lieved the two aircraft collided during poor weather. The
fourth pilot was killed when his aircraft crashed just
after liftoff during a night mission from HMS Hermes.
Of the remaining losses, one was shot down by a
surface to air missile near Goose Green airfield, and the
pilot captured. The remainder were downed by antiaircraft
fire--the pilots were all rescued. None of the aircraft
losses were due to air-to-air combat.
The 28 Sea Harriers flew more than 1,200 sorties in 44
days and achieved an exceptionally high availability rate--
almost 90 percent. In air-to-air combat the Sea Harriers
destroyed at least twenty aircraft (16 with the Sidewinder
air-to-air missile), four with ADEN 30mm cannon. As was the
situation faced by the Argentine aircraft, the Harriers were
often operating at the extreme limits of their range and
were, therefore, unable to maneuver or fight back if they
were to return home safely.29
SHIPBOARD AIR DEFENSES
The British forces used four different methods to reduce
the impact of the Argentine aircraft. Firstly, they used the
Vulcan bombers and Harrier aircraft in an attempt to inter-
dict the runway at Port Stanley and to prevent the use of the
field by high performance jet aircraft. Secondly, daring
commando raids destroyed aircraft on the ground. Thirdly,
Royal Navy Sea Harriers attempted to intercept incoming air-
craft before they could attack the surface forces. Finally,
the ships themselves had their own guns, missiles and chaff
with which to defend themselves. This chapter will discuss
the weapons used by the Royal Navy surface forces.
The British defense strategy prior to the South Atlantic
conflict was primarily centered on the NATO area. The Royal
Navy concentrated on antisubmarine warfare and anticipated
receiving air defense support from U.S. aircraft carriers
as well as their own land based aircraft. Although the Royal
Navy itself recognized some of the weaknesses of this policy,
as well as the antiair deficiencies of its own ships, it was
nevertheless forced to accept this situation because of re-
duced spending for ship construction.
The British fleet went to the South Atlantic armed
with four types of surface to air missiles and three dif-
ferent caliber antiaircraft guns. The missile systems were
the Sea Dart, Sea Wolf, Sea Cat, and Sea Slug. The gun
systems available were the 114mm (4.5 inch) gun and the
40mm and 20mm guns.
The Sea Dart surface to air missile is a long-range
intercept weapon. Classified as a "radar semiactive homing
all the way" missile, it had a range of about twenty miles
and a weight at launch of 1200 pounds. Designed to engage
high speed, high altitude aircraft, it once destroyed a
target moving at 1500 mph at 51,000 feet of altitude. It
was installed aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Invincible and
six of the eight destroyers including all of the Type 42
destroyers such as HMS Sheffield. The chief disadvantage
of the system was its incapacity for engaging very low
altitude targets. Since the Argentine Navy also possessed
the Sea Dart, it is likely the Argentine pilots were aware
of the system's low altitude weakness. Most of the Argen-
tine attacks were made at very low altitude. This system
shortfall could have been eliminated if the Sea Dart ships
had also been equipped with a short-range missile system.
Vessels had only the less effective 4.5 inch, 40mm or 20mm
guns for close in, low altitude defenses. Despite its
handicaps, the Sea Dart was credited with downing eight
aircraft and held the distinction of being the first missile
fired during the conflict. A Sea Dart was fired at an
Argentine Boeing 707 recon aircraft early in the war. No
hits were achieved, but the aircraft was chased away.
The Sea Cat surface to air missile is a short-range
system. With a range of just three miles, it is intended
as a point defense weapon. The 139 pound missile was aboard
17 ships of the Royal Navy Task Force including HMS Hermes
and two of the amphibious assault ships.1 It had also been
exported to the navies of more than ten other nations in-
cluding Iran and Brazil.2 Most missiles are deployed from
a four round rotatable launcher. The radio command guided
Sea Cat uses optical, TV or radar tracking. The missile has
a high explosive warhead with contact and proximity fuzing.
Although credited with the downing of eight Argentine air-
craft, it has been recorded that more than ten missiles
were launched for each kill.3
The Sea Wolf is also a short-range, point defense sur-
face to air missile. Slightly heavier than the Sea Cat at
176 pounds it proved to be the most reliable missile system.
The Sea Wolf is part of the GWS-25 defense system and contains
components from a variety of manufacturers including a
Marconi search and tracking radar, Ferranti fire control
computers, six round launchers by Vickers, and the Sea Wolf
missile bodies built by British Aerospace.4 Although the
system has been in development since the mid-1960s, it didn't
become operational until 1980 when it was installed aboard
the first of four Type 22 frigates. Sea Wolf employs line
of sight command guidance with radar or optical tracking.
The warhead is equipped with both impact and proximity
fuzing. The system has now been installed on two Leander
class frigates and plans call for installation aboard nine
additional Type 22 frigates and three additional Leander
ships in the future. Additional plans call for the develop-
ment of backup all-weather radar guidance and a lightweight
version of Sea Wolf for installation aboard smaller ships.
An improved version with a vertical launch system is being
developed for installation aboard the Type 23 frigates to
be ordered beginning 1984.5
The Sea Wolf was developed to counter noncrossing tar-
gets (coming directly at launching ship), and targets not
arriving in rapid succession. Inability to track many tar-
gets simultanously and limited range make Sea Wolf unsuit-
able for area defense, although it was hastily pressed into
such service (with its software hurriedly altered) during
the South Atlantic conflict. It is the only shipboard sur-
face to air missile system currently forecasted for the
Royal Navy future. Quite a bit of design work has been
devoted to developing a rapid "bolt on" capability for
merchant ships when needed.6
Although the system was aboard only two vessels in the
Falklands area during the war, the missile scored an impres-
sive five kills with only eight launches.7 It is also note-
worthy to point out that while many British vessels were
attacked by the Argentine aircraft, no Sea Wolf armed ship
was seriously damaged.8 In an after the war test, the
missile actually destroyed an Exocet missile in flight.9
The fourth shipboard launched air defense missile was
the Sea Slug. From the very name of the system one might
not be inspired by the performance of this missile. The
British considered the missile so obsolete it was used
against enemy aircraft only once, a desperation shot by HMS
ANTRIM. In that instance, the missile scored no hit and
the vessel itself was damaged by a bomb released by the
attacking aircraft.10 The only other use of the missile
was in a surface to surface role where it was used to attack
an Argentine position near Stanley. The missile was launched
in the normal manner and then command directed to fly into
the ground when it approached the Argentines. While the
results of the attack are unknown, the British themselves
did not expect any material destruction to be caused by the
missile. It was hoped the missile would have some psycho-
logical effect on the Argentines.
In addition to the surface-to-air missiles, all the
Royal Navy combatants were equipped with guns. The only
exceptions were the carriers. All of the destroyers and
nine of the frigates were equipped with the 114mm (4.5 inch)
gun, but no Royal Navy ship had more than one. This gun was
both radar and optically directed.11 Unfortunately, many of
the guns were directed by the same radars that directed
missile systems. This arrangement was cheaper to be sure,
but the disadvantage of this system was that only one of
the two systems could be radar directed at any one time.
Therefore, the two systems could not be used to engage tar-
gets simultaneously approaching both sides of the ship.
One source indicates that only one Argentine aircraft was
destroyed by this gun.12 It would be impossible to estimate
the number of aircraft chased away or the number of attacks
in which the aim of a pilot was interrupted so that his
weapon missed the ship. It is likely there were many such
The 40mm and 20mm guns were essentially antiquated
weapons. Many were only optically sighted and none had the
rate of fire of the U.S. built 20mm Vulcan cannon. Never-
theless, because the Argentines carried attacks so close to
Royal Navy ships, many gunners were successful in aiming
close-in fire. The same source estimated six Argentine air-
craft destroyed by guns. It is interesting to note that a
Type 21 frigate armed with the Sea Cat missile and two 20mm
guns was expected to engage a modern aircraft, whereas a
World War II ship of the same size had 12 to 16 40mm and 12
20mm guns to shoot down a propeller driven aircraft. Modern
technology had not prepared well enough for the jet age.
The original concept of missile defenses for Type 42
destroyers such as the Sheffield was a combined weapons sys-
tem that became known as GWS-25. Plans called for shipboard
installation of both the Sea Dart and the Sea Wolf missiles
and associated radar detection and guidance systems. The
Sea Dart was intended to engage medium or high altitude air-
craft at long-range. The Sea Wolf missile was designed for
close-in coverage against low flying aircraft or anti ship
missiles. In fact, Sea Wolf had demonstrated a good capa-
bility to engage even artillery shells at close range.13
Unfortunately, for reasons of economy, "government experts"
decided the Type 42 destroyers would be provided with Sea
Dart missiles only and the 4.5 inch gun. This configuration
eliminated the capability to effectively engage sea-skimming
antiship missiles or low flying aircraft.
The Type 22 frigates such as Broadsword and Brilliant
were armed with Sea Wolf but not Sea Dart missiles. Other
ships were equipped with less capable systems such as the
Sea Slug or Sea Cat missiles. HMS Glamorgan, which was hit
by a shore based Exocet was armed with Sea Slug and Sea Cat
for long-range and close-in protection. The frigates Alac-
rity, Antelope, Ardent, and Arrow were armed with the an-
cient Sea Slug only. The Antelope and Ardent were sunk by
bombs dropped from very low flying aircraft. It is obvious
that the overall surface to air missile defenses were not
as capable as originally envisioned and could not prevent
six ships from being sunk and many others damaged.14
The conventional air-sea battle essentially commenced
on 1 May 1982. With only a limited number of "fighter" air-
craft and without any airborne early warning capability, the
fleet was forced to rely heavily on surface to air missiles.
The rationale of British officials when reducing the defense
forces was that the missiles would be capable of carrying
out the mission. It should be noted that the Invincible and
the other vessels of that class had not been intended to
operate fixed wing aircraft at all. As events turned out,
their small number of Harriers aboard proved to be especially
The Royal Navy's missile defense system suffered from
the same limitation of nearly all naval air defense systems
--over saturation. A ship has to devote one of its limited
number of guidance channels to each incoming target. That
channel remains tied up throughout each single engagement.
Both the Type 42 destroyers (armed with Sea Dart) and Type
22 ships (armed with Sea Wolf missiles) were limited to just
two channels. This deficiency was dramatically illustrated
in the case of HMS Coventry. The ship detected two fast,
low flying, incoming aircraft and locked on her two Type 909
missile guidance radars. Two more aircraft then approached
the ship from the other side and hit her with three bombs
which sank her. Presumably, Coventry never had the oppor-
tunity to complete the engagement with the first two air-
Blame for the Type's inability to respond to an air
threat would be placed on the design of the detection and
fire control system aboard. The Type 42 ship has a manually
operated combat system, which first detects a target on air
search radar, then redetects it on a target indication radar
(Type 992Q) and then employs one of two guidance radars to
guide the missile. But even then the system is not yet
ready to launch. The Sea Dart missile itself introduces
further delays since it requires a two minute warm-up period
on the launcher while its gyros line up.16 Unfortunately,
it is not feasible to keep a warmed-up missile on the
launcher indefinitely, especially in the cold weather.
Reasons for the shortcomings in the Royal Navy air
defense systems are more understandable if one considers
the high flying target scenarios of the 1950s when these
systems were first designed. The Argentine aircraft
electing to approach at a very low altitudes, successfully
delayed detection to ranges nearer ten or twenty miles
instead of one hundred miles which was the norm thirty years
ago. Delays in firing the Sea Dart missile were exposed.
One should not get the impression, however, that the
Sea Dart was incapable of downing aircraft. It was. In
fact, HMS Coventry had a successful day prior to her sinking
("other than that, how did you like the play Mrs. Lincoln?").
The ship shot down two attacking Skyhawk aircraft at 12:30
P.M. and one out of three attacking aircraft at 3:00 P.M.
She herself, however, was sunk by four more aircraft at 6:00
As a matter of note, Coventry was the first ship to
successfully fire the Sea Dart missile during the conflict.
The ship shot down an Argentine Puma helicopter flying over
one of the islands, demonstrating the ability of the Sea
Dart missile system to overcome ground clutter.18
In theory, a long-range missile system can overcome
saturation by engaging every aircraft sequentially, before
targets get close enough to attack. Such a system requires
both a long-range detection capability and a very fast
missile. In theory, also, a good command and control system
between ships operating in harmony can overcome saturation
to a degree by dividing up incoming targets between the
ships in the unit so that none is overloaded and as many
incoming targets as possible are engaged.19 In the case of
the Royal Navy in the South Atlantic, both the detection
system and the number of ships with capable missile systems
was sorely lacking.
The Royal Navy well understood the above theory. Their
philosophy and doctrine also included the concept of layered
defenses. Unfortunately, the Royal Navy as it is now con-
figured does not have the organic capability to put the best
concepts into practice, and when in the vicinity of home
waters, must rely on the RAF and allies for additional anti-
air support. Generally, it is their objective to destroy
attacking aircraft (and their missiles, if any) at as far
from the task force as possible since destroying the aircraft
before it launches an anti ships missile not only destroys the
missile for that mission but, prevents the aircraft from
returning for a subsequent attack. Another advantage of
destroying an aircraft as far away from the task force as
possible is that the antiair missile system is then freed
up to attack another inbound target.
Because no single system, long-range or short can be
relied upon with absolute certainty, it is desirable to
construct defenses in depth so the enemy can be subjected
to sequential punishment before reaching his objective.
These layers need not include different types of systems
but they often do. The British use a three layered plan.
Royal Navy Sea Harriers were stationed in the outermost
zone at their combat air patrol. When the fleet was oper-
ating close to the Falkland Islands themselves, the Harriers
were positioned at the north and south ends of East Falk-
land. The Harriers normally patrolled in flights of two.
AAW destroyers armed with the long-range Sea Dart missiles
were placed to provide intermediate range protection for the
task force. Behind the AAW ships were the antisubmarine
warfare (ASW) ships. Although these vessels were not spe-
cifically part of the antiair defenses, they nevertheless
could contribute their Sea Dart or Sea Slug missiles. Posi-
tioned closest to the aircraft carriers were the frigates on
the intermost wing, armed with the point defense missiles,
Sea Cat and Sea Wolf as well as guns of many sizes and chaff.
The merchant ships and transports were positioned behind
(actually to the east of) the carriers. Thus in theory, an
attacking Argentine aircraft would first have to evade the
Harriers, avoid being shot down by the Sea Darts, and finally
get by the Sea Wolf and Sea Cat vessels before it could
attack the prize target, an aircraft carrier.
This defensive scheme was extremely effective since no
aircraft penetrated the Royal Navy screen to attack the
carriers. It would be more correct to note, however, that
the Argentine aircraft carried only enough fuel to reach
the Falklands, attack for five minutes and then turn for
home. Because the Royal Navy had positioned its carriers
well to the east, the Argentines did not have the fuel to
reach those ships no matter how much they would have liked
to. There are several other reasons the Royal Navy air
defense strategy was not as effective as may have been
expected: lack of AEW, the British radar, the terrain and
the Argentine tactics.
Much has been written about the British lack of airborne
early warning radar (AEW). Any shipboard based aircraft type
such as the Gannet, the U.S. Navy's E-2, or the RAF's AEW
aircraft could have both provided ships with additional
warning and directed the Harriers to intercepts of incoming
aircraft. In fact, the Argentines had the benefit of their
own Neptune aircraft and radar stations on the islands to
assist their aircraft in both locating the Royal Navy and
avoiding the Sea Harrier combat air patrols.
Another shortcoming faced by the Royal Navy was the
Type 965 air search radar. The system is aging and is un-
able to track low flying targets at long-range. When in
the open ocean, the disposition of the British forces was
dictated by the capabilities of the air defense weapon
Another factor was terrain. When any naval force is
operating close to a hostile shore such as during amphibious
operations it is much more difficult to provide all the
desired layers of air defense. The performance of different
defensive weapons systems may be degraded. Under such cir-
cumstances the naval force must rely more heavily on inner
zone defenses. Radar can't see through hillsides. When
ships are deployed close to shore, the radar capabilities
may be severely degraded by terrain masking and ground
clutter. It is important that expeditionary air defense
units be established ashore so as to extend the air defense
layers forward of the shoreline.
The Falkland's terrain both hindered and helped the
air defense of the Royal Navy. Falkland Sound between the
two major islands is bordered on the west by a chain of
mountains rising to 2,160 feet. The tallest mountain on
West Falkland rises to nearly 2300 feet. These mountains,
plus the hills to the west of the San Carlos area effectively
masked the air search radars of the British Fleet, making
defense of those ships more difficult.20 There was an
advantage however. One of the reasons given by the Royal
Navy for picking San Carlos for the amphibious assault was
that the confined area would deny Argentina the use of its
radar guided, Exocet missile against the assault ships.
Weighing such variables is a flag rank responsibility for
which commanders are well paid.
Another factor which determined the actual effective-
ness of the antiair defenses was the Argentine air battle
plan. Essentially, it was simple--low, fast, and tight
formations. The advantages of low flight have already been
discussed. By going fast, the Argentine aircraft reduced
time over the target and limited their exposure. The
Argentines have stated their Mirages "flew at .95 MACH into
the target, turned at .95 MACH and then escaped at .95 MACH".21
This speed reduced chances of contact by the Sea Harrier and
made visual tracking in the target area much more difficult.
Finally, the tactic of flying close together and using
terrain masking confused British radars. One source indi-
cates HMS Coventry had that problem on the day it was sunk
on 25 May.22 According to that account, the ship's computer
examined two approaching targets, almost indistinguishably
close together, sought to decide which to attack, found the
solution electronically impossible, and switched itself off.
When the computer later reacquired the target, the missile
could not be fired because the ship by then had turned away
from the incoming missile.
The Coventry was not the only ship lost in confined
waters. Both HMS Ardent and HMS Antelope were sunk and
several vessels damaged in the restricted waters around San
Carlos. The amphibious ship Sir Tristram was sunk and Sir
Galahad heavily damaged during the landings at Fitzroy. In
fact, with the exception of HMS Sheffield, all of the
warship losses occurred close to shore where the land mass
severely limited radar warning and tracking time.23
It is worthwhile to point out another factor which may
be attributed to the antiair missile defenses of the Royal
Navy. The very existence of missile systems forced the
Argentine aircraft to fly low to avoid them. The resultant
low altitude bomb releases often did not give the bombs time
to arm. While many of the ships were struck with Argentine
bombs, the British ships and personnel losses would have
been far greater had all the weapons exploded.
As discussed in the chapter concerning electronic war-
fare neither side had much capability to employ electronic
means (other than radar) in defense of the force. Chaff
rockets firing tiny strips of aluminum to confuse the enemy
radar were used extensively by the Royal Navy. It is dif-
ficult, however, to measure the effectiveness of chaff
against the Exocet missile since HMS Sheffield had no time
to fire it and Atlantic Conveyor had no chaff to fire.
In an all out attempt to overcome attacks by radar
controlled antishipping missiles, the British employed
electronic surveillance measures (ESM) for detection, clas-
sification and initiation of chaff for the anti-air defense
of their ships. The fact that these so-called "soft kill"
measures had to be relied upon for the only defense against
Exocet missiles highlights further the deficiencies of the
British "hard kill" systems ("Soft kill" systems attempt to
divert the path of the weapon away from the item you wish
to defend. "Hard kill" defenses destroy the missile or the
launcher and the missile by fighter aircraft, surface to
air missiles or gunfire).
Although the "hard kill" air defense systems were
heavily challenged during the conflict, it is much more dif-
ficult to assess the effectiveness of the "soft kill" systems.
First of all, it is difficult to judge because so few Exocet
missiles were fired and the ones that scored hits, impacted
vessels which did not employ any "soft kill" equipment.
Secondly, it is difficult to measure if a missile which did
not hit its target was decoyed by the system or it would
have missed the ship anyway. Finally, the chaff may be
effective in diverting an air to surface missile from the
ship that launched the chaff, but since the missile survives
the encounter with the chaff it may chose another close by,
unprotected ship. (Some sources have speculated that the
Atlantic Conveyor was struck by a missile which was diverted
from one of the carriers.) If so, Atlantic Conveyor became
a very expensive decoy.
Because "soft kill" systems are relatively inexpensive
and require so little deck space, they should be mandatory
in a balanced overall approach to defense. Additionally, a
system which could be bolted on or quickly installed aboard
merchant shipping could go a long way in providing security
for these previously unprotected ships.
With the exception of the Sea Wolf missile, which was
not exposed to Exocet attack, none of the other air defense
systems had any capability against the Exocet. Because of
the low altitude flown by the Super Etendards and their
distance from the targets when the missiles were fired, the
Harriers and the Sea Dart missile systems were unable to
detect and engage launching aircraft. Both the Harriers and
the Sea Dart were handicapped by inadequate low altitude
surveillance capability at long-range. Additionally, the
twenty mile range of Sea Dart was insufficient to prevent
the launch of Exocet beyond that range. Although the Mach
.93 speed of the Exocet is considered slow by some missile
standards its speed nevertheless makes it a difficult target
for most self-defense systems. Several Vulcan-Phalanx radar
controlled antiaircraft weapon systems were pulled from the
U.S. Navy stocks and air shipped to Britain soon after the
war broke out, but none became operational in the theater.
The system is now installed on the newly built carrier
The cyclical nature of air operations in the South
Atlantic can be credited with contributing to the high
availability of the air defense systems. An attack against
any single ship may have been intense, but generally it was
of very short duration. Very few ships were subjected to
multiple attacks within a single day except HMS Coventry
and HMS Ardent. The fact that all attacks occurred during
daylight in good visibility, and that the air defense sys-
tems were used little at night provided system repair crews
with respites for regular, daily maintenance. Finally, the
British had the luxury of pulling a ship off the line and
putting it well beyond the range of every aircraft when
repairs were wanted.
ARGENTINE AIR FORCE TACTICS
The Argentine Air Force aimed to put both enemy aircraft
carriers out of action. They were handicapped, however, by
the great distances. Because of the difficulties encountered
by the Argentine Navy's only carrier early in the war, the
ship did not launch any aircraft against the British Task
Force. Instead, all the Air Force and Naval Air Forces
operated from land bases with most of aircraft operating
from the mainland.
Three primary airfields were used: Rio Grande, Rio
Gallegos and Comodor Rivadavia which were 380, 427, and 515
nautical miles respectively from the Falkland Islands.1
Only two KC-130H aircraft were equipped as inflight refueling
tankers. The distances involved and the paucity of tanking
assets limited the flight endurance of the Argentine aircraft
over the Falklands to only five or ten minutes and did not
permit them to fly the additional 100-200 miles eastward to
the operating area of the carriers. Unable to reach the
carriers, the Argentines did the next best thing. The
attacked those ships they could reach.
Operating from land bases, the Argentine Navy aircraft
(A-4s) normally carried bombloads of two or three 500 pound
high explosive bombs. Most Mirages and Daggers carried 1000
pound bombs, some of which were retarded. With the exception
of the Exocet, the Argentines had no precision guided muni-
tions (such as laser or TV guided bombs). Their most effec-
tive delivery method for delivering the iron bombs was the
high-speed low-level attack profile with bomb release at
point blank range. Lacking sophisticated weapons delivery
systems, the Argentine reportedly drew two grease pencil
lines (one for ship deck level, the other for the horizon),
and tracked the ships between the two lines, dropping bombs
as the ship went under the nose.2 A-4B actually hit the
mast of HMS Antelope on 21 May, losing a fuel tank fin.3
Although the British Sea Harrier was a concern to the
Argentine aviation forces, they considered the shipboard
antiair defenses to be the primary threat. The Argentines
obtained tracking information from the shore based radar
facilities on the Falklands which sometimes assisted the
attacking aircraft in avoiding the Sea Harriers. The ship-
board defenses were much more difficult to avoid since the
aircraft had to fly directly to them when attacking the
The Argentines effectively used their C-130 assets.
The KC-130H air refueling aircraft had the capability to
extend the range of the A-4 Skyhawk and the Super Etendard
attack aircraft. Fortunately for the Royal Navy, only two
of these aircraft were available. The three C-130E and
four C-130H aircraft were primarily used to deliver cargo
to the Port Stanley airport. The Argentines made good use
of the limited facilities they found at that field. Lacking
lighting facilities, they developed a makeshift runway
lighting system to permit use of the airport after dark.
Inhibited only by later British air attacks, the Argentines
continued to use the runway until the final days of conflict.
At one point prior to the arrival of the British in the
Falklands area, the C-130s delivered a total of 140 tons of
cargo in a single day.4 The aircraft were also used in a
surveilance and tracking mode. The only C-130 shot down by
the British Sea Harrier was probably engaged on a recon-
On 29 May a single C-130 transport dropped eight bombs
in a surprise attack on the tanker British Wye while the
ship was enroute to the Falklands from Ascension Island and
600 miles from the Argentine mainland. One bomb actually
hit the tanker near its bow but failed to explode. According
to one report, the aircraft lacked any weapons racks for the
bombs. The bombs were simply pushed out the rear cargo door
to fall on the tanker below. This attack led to changes in
the sea lanes used by the British shipping in the South
Atlantic. Ships in the war zone were directed to remain
underway and disperse when not actually engaged in trans-
SHORE BASED AIR DEFENSES
A limited antiair umbrella was erected for landing
force operations. The landing force was equipped with the
Rapier surface to air missile fired from a mobile launcher
and the Blowpipe and Stinger hand held missiles. The Rapier
missile can be positioned by truck or helicopter, the Blow-
pipe and Stinger can be carried by their operators.
The Rapier system was designed by British Aerospace in
England to provide low altitude air defense for ground units.
The system consists of four units, an optical tracker, an
all weather radar tracker, a launcher and a missile. If
desired, the system can be operated in optical mode only,
nearly halving the transportable weight of the system.
With the radar tracking unit the entire system still weighs
only 6,694 pounds, well below the weight of the U.S. Hawk
missile system.1 The radar portion can begin tracking air-
craft at a distance of seven miles. This 94 pound missile
has a maximum range of three miles and a maximum altitude of
The first use of Rapier occurred on 21 May at the
amphibious landing site of San Carlos. The intention was
to provide critical air defense protection for all elements
of the landing force, both the ground troops ashore and
Royal Navy amphibious shipping. The Rapier's operators
were concerned about the material conditions of their
system--the exposure to salt air during the long sea voyage
might have damaged the system's sensitive electronics and
it had been almost a year since the last live missile
firing. In fact, the Rapier teams had real difficulties
the first day ashore. Up to eight batteries of launchers
were unserviceable at any one time that day. Because of
the difficult terrain, movement of spare parts was a problem.
Also there was a tendency for the launcher rail retaining
pins to shear, allowing missiles to slide off their rails
and fall to the ground.2 Despite these problems or perhaps
because of them, the Rapier destroyed three attacking Argen-
tine aircraft with ten missiles fired the first day.
To Admiral John Woodward, who was now counting heavily
upon Rapier to defend his ships while they were close in
shore, three hits out of ten was not good enough. The frig-
ate Ardent had been sunk, two ships were hit by bombs that
failed to explode (HMS Antrim was sunk the following day
when a defusing attempt failed), and two more ships were
seriously damaged. The next day he sent the following
I am sure the Rapier detachments are doing all
that they can. However, performance yesterday
was totally unsatisfactory. Put a bomb under
them before they get one on top of them.3
No bombs were necessary. The detachments worked out
their difficulties and the systems performed well, scoring
fourteen confirmed and six probable kills, all using the
optical guidance mode. The optical system was particularly
effective against low flying, relatively slow moving air-
craft such as helicopters or the Pucara close air support
aircraft.4 Of course optical system performance was degraded
during periods of reduced visibility.
The other two missile systems were the man-portable
Stinger and Blowpipe shoulder fired missiles. They were
essentially identical in appearance and employment. The
U.S. built Stinger was designed by General Dynamics, weighed
thirty-five pounds and used passive infrared homing for
guidance. The British built Blowpipe was designed by Short
Brothers of Belfast, Northern Ireland. It weighed forty-
seven pounds and was guided optically by radio command.
The advantage of the optical guidance is that the missile
could be directed away from a target if it appeared the
missile was approaching too close to a friendly unit. The
two systems have been credited with destroying approximately
ARGENTINE AIR ATTACKS
Although the first significant Argentine air action
against the British fleet occurred on 12 May during the
attack of twelve A-4 aircraft against HMS Brillant and HMS
Glasgow, the heaviest and most effective Argentine action
occurred during the period 21 May through 8 June. To give
the reader a flavor of the intensity of the period, the
following paragraphs will describe the determination of the
Argentine pilots and the effectiveness of the antiair de-
fenses of the British.
The first British amphibious landings took place at
0439 local time on 21 May at Port San Carlos. The landing
of 10,000 troops and their equipment was completed without
loss within four hours. Meanwhile the ships of the task
force formed a gunline in Falkland Sound to intercept any
attacking aircraft. These ships bore the brunt of the
Argentine air attacks that day which came in three waves
beginning at 1120 local time, some seven hours after the
Two Royal Navy ships, HMS Ardent and HMS Argonaut were
severely damaged by bombs with Ardent sinking later. HMS
Antrim was struck by a bomb that failed to explode and two
other ships, HMS Broadsword and HMS Brilliant also damaged.2
The Argentines lost nine Mirage aircraft and one damaged and
five A-4 Skyhawks and one damaged as well as two Pucaras and
a number of helicopters. Eleven of the attacking aircraft
were downed by the Sea Harriers, three were destroyed by
surface to air missiles.3
The following day was much quieter, largely due to poor
weather. The British forces were fortunate to be able to
consolidate their forces ashore without enemy interference.
Two Argentine A-4s did make a single attack that evening,
but the attack was not pressed home with intensity and one
A-4 was shot down.4
On May 23rd the Argentines again attacked in earnest.
The first two formations were made up of four A-4s each.
The third formation was composed of four Mirages--the fourth
had two Mirages. Two A-4s were confirmed shot down and two
more probably shot down during the first attack. All four
Mirages in the third formation and one from the fourth were
destroyed. Of these, four of the aircraft were shot down by
surface to air missiles, one by 20mm gunfire and two were
shot down by the Harrier using Sidewinder missiles. Addi-
tionally, the Harriers shot down another Mirage which did
not attempt to attack the fleet, one helicopter in the air
and destroyed two helicopters on the ground. Total Argentine
losses for the day: eleven. The losses, however, were not
one-sided. HMS Antelope was hit by a bomb that failed to
detonate. The bomb later exploded while bomb disposal per-
sonnel attempted to defuse it, sinking the ship.
The Harriers launched an attack against the Port
Stanley airfield the following day, causing minor damage to
the facility. The Argentines retaliated two hours later.
Five A-4 aircraft attacked the ships at the San Carlos
landing area. The amphibious landing ships Sir Galahad and
Sir Lancelot were hit by one bomb each but neither bomb
exploded. A follow on attack by Mirages also scored a hit
on Sir Lancelot, the bomb likewise failed to explode.
Another formation of four Mirages was intercepted by two
Harriers before the attackers reached their target. Three
of the Argentines were shot down. The final attack of A-4s
and Mirages lost five aircraft, two to shipboard surface to
air missiles and three to the shore based Rapier missiles.
Total Argentine losses for the day; eight aircraft destroyed.
Again, the contest was not one-sided. HMS Sir Galahad was
on fire and had one unexploded bomb on board. HMS Sir
Lancelot was also burning and had two unexploded bombs on
The Argentine independence day is 25 May. The British
anticipated strong attacks from the mainland. They were not
disappointed. HMS Broadsword and HMS Coventry were on
station ten miles north of the Falklands Sound when they
were attacked by three A-4 Skyhawks. HMS Coventry was hit
by three bombs which exploded and sank the ship. HMS Broad-
sword was also hit, but the bomb failed to explode and
passed through the ship. One of the attackers was knocked
down. Two additional A-4s attacked HMS Fearless near San
Carlos scoring no hits. Both aircraft were destroyed.7
The final, most damaging, attack occurred near sunset
that same day. Two Argentine Super Etendard aircraft
attacked the Battle Group positioned 120 miles northeast of
Port Stanley. Each aircraft fired a single Exocet missile
from a distance of 28 miles. One, possibly two missiles
struck the container ship Atlantic Conveyor. As was the
case with the attack on HMS Sheffield, many sources believe
the missile(s) failed to detonate, but started fires which
destroyed the ship. The Argentines incorrectly believed
they had hit one of the British aircraft carriers.8 Al-
though this was not true, the loss of Atlantic Conveyor was
still a serious loss. A large amount of equipment including
tents, helicopters, and most of the metal matting needed to
construct an Expeditionary Landing Site ashore for the
Harriers. Total losses for the day; three Argentine aircraft
destroyed, two British ships lost, one damaged.9
Harriers made attacks on the Port Stanley airport with
1,000 pound bombs on 25,26, and 27 May. Their additional
role as close air support aircraft was limited because most
of the land operations during this period were conducted at
The Argentine Air Force did not challenge the British
on 25 or 26 May but resumed attacks on the 27th. This time
the targets were ground forces.10 Two Mirage sorties caused
no damage. Two A-4s following this attack inflicted minor
damage to a base maintenance area. Four more A-4s followed,
this time causing a number of ground force casualities. The
guns of HMS Fearless shot down one aircraft and damaged
The Goose Green airfield was captured by the second
battalion, the Parachute Regiment with Harrier close air
support on 28 May.12 This closed one of the four airfields
used by the Argentines on the islands. (The other three
were Stanley, Stanley Race Course, and Pebble Island.) This
capture was followed by Harrier attacks on Port Stanley and
Pebble Island the following day. Several Argentine aircraft
at Port Stanley were destroyed or damaged while on the
On 29 May a C-130 transport aircraft attacked a British
tanker enroute from Ascension to the Falklands operating
area. Eight bombs were dropped scoring one hit, but the
bomb failed to explode. There were several sporatic attacks
at San Carlos but no damage was inflicted on the Fleet. One
A-4 was shot down by a Rapier missile.13
The following day, two Super Etendards and two escorting
A-4s attacked the Task Force. The single, remaining Exocet
missile was fired, reportedly against HMS Invincible, but
no hit was achieved.14 One of the A-4s was shot down by a
Sea Dart missile. The most important facet of the attack
was that because of the distance of the Task Force from the
mainland, air refueling was required. Due to the limited
air refueling assets, the number of aircraft which could be
assigned to the attacking force was also limited.15
Both sides were hampered by poor weather but on 8 June
the Argentines resumed the attack. This time five Mirages
attacked HMS Plymouth in the Falkland Sound width bombs,
rockets, and cannon fire. Plymouth destroyed two aircraft
and damaged another with Sea Cat missiles and gunfire but
was herself damaged.16
Later the same day four Mirage aircraft caught the
amphibious landing ships Sir Galahad and Sir Tristram while
landing troops at Fitzroy. Sir Tristram, which had already
offloaded most of her cargo when it was attacked, was hit
by two bombs which failed to explode but caused serious
fires. Sir Galahad, which was previously damaged on 23 May,
was hit and set fire while it still had many of its troop
cargo still aboard. More than 100 casualities were suffered
and much equipment was destroyed. Sir Galahad had to be
abandoned. One Mirage was shot down by the Harriers and
one damaged. Later in the day a landing craft in Choiseul
Sound was attacked by another four Mirage aircraft. The LCU
received one bomb hit but all four Mirages were shot down.
The Argentines also attacked British position ashore with
several A-4s, losing one aircraft destroyed, one damaged.17
It is interesting to note that the loss of Atlantic
Conveyor contributed partly to the damage to Sir Galahad
and Sir Tristram. Because several of the heavy lift, troop
carrying Chinook helicopters were lost in the fire aboard
Atlantic Conveyor, thereby slowing down the advance of
troops crossing East Falkland, a decision was made to open
a second front closer to Stanley. Fitzroy was the site
Total Argentine losses for the day were eight aircraft
shot down, three damaged. Fleet losses were much higher,
more than 100 men killed or injured, two ships put out of
action, two damaged.
The Argentine Air Force accomplished very little during
the next few days, limiting flying to scattered attacks by
Pucaras against ground troops. In fact, the most important
action on 12 June did not involve any airplanes at all.
HMS Glamorgan was hit by a shore launched Exocet missile
while conducting naval gunfire support. The Exocet struck
Glamorgan near the stern, killing thirteen men and destroying
the ship's helicopter. Fortunately, the blow was not a
fatal one, the ship survived.18
On the same day a British Vulcan bomber made the final
long-range bombing attack of the war, dropping twenty-one
1,000 pound bombs on the Port Stanley airfield. Damage was
light, the runway undamaged.
The final Argentine air attack took place on 13 June.
A flight of four aircraft, flying at 38,000 feet was engaged
by the antiair missiles of HMS Cardiff. One aircraft,
likely a Canberra bomber, was shot down.19
The Argentine Commander, surrendered his forces at
0100Z 15 June 1982.20
DESTRUCTION OF AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUND
The most effective method in countering an enemy air
threat is to destroy aircraft on the ground. As discussed
in the chapters concerning Vulcan and Harrier operations,
several attempts were made to both deny the enemy the use
of the Stanley airfield and to destroy any aircraft and
equipment positioned there. Although the purpose of this
report is not to describe ground operations ashore at the
Falklands it is worthwhile to briefly describe the success-
ful commando raid against the small Argentine airfield on
On May 14, approximately fifty members of the Special
Air Service and the Special Boat Service attacked the air-
field. Assisted by naval gunfire, the teams destroyed
eleven Pucara close air support aircraft and several other
light aircraft on the ground, an ammo dump and a mobile
land-based radar unit. This removed a major Argentine
threat to British warships and amphibious shipping oper-
ating in the Falkland Sound.
Although it is difficult to identify any single most
important lesson of any conflict, this chapter will attempt
to examine several important lessons that might impact
American forces in the future.
British sources testify that the key element in their
success in the South Atlantic conflict was the skill,
stamina and resolution of the individual servicemen. The
need in war for physical and metal toughness as well as
high profiency in tactics was underscored in the adverse
environmental conditions of the Falklands. The British
point to the harshness of battle stations on the exposed
weather decks of the ships, and the difficult flying con-
ditions experienced by their flight crews. They feel the
operation clearly demonstrated the value of professional,
highly trained and carefully selected armed forces and
justified their priority on realistic and demanding train-
ing at all levels. Additionally, the British believe the
value of the British regimental system in creating unit
cohesion and esprit was reaffirmed as well as the emphasis
placed on discipline in producing a reliable soldier.
The British feel very strongly about their training.
Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Terence Lewin has stated;
You cannot produce confident, highly skilled
professional fighting men by keeping your
aircraft on the ground, ships in harbor or
men and vehicles in barracks. You have
got to fly in all weathers, get to sea and
stay there, and get out in the rain, snow,
mud, heat and never forget that your job
is to fight.1
A second lesson refers to the failure of the British
armed forces to convince Argentina of Great Britain's commit-
ment to the South Atlantic. If the Argentines had believed
the British would have reacted so strongly to their inva-
sion it is very possible they would not have attacked the
Falkland Islands in the first place. Admiral Lewin,
speaking as the British Chief of Defense Staff has stated,
The most important lesson to learn in the
Falklands conflict is this: If you hope
to deter an aggressor from attack, you must
have capable, well equipped forces readily
available. But above all, you must demon-
strate that you have the political will to
Likewise, the United States must ensure that its forces
are ready and that our enemies and potential enemies know
that we are prepared to use those forces.
The South Atlantic conflict highlighted the fact that
wars may occur in unexpected locations, without any advance
warning. The victor will likely be the nation which has
planned for a variety of contingencies, has the necessary
equipment, and has personnel trained to operate gear in
backup modes to beat the conditions present and adapt
tactics to counter an opponent.
The sinking of the destroyer HMS Sheffield by a sea
skimming missile caused some people to question whether
surface ships were now rendered obsolete. While it is true
that antishipping missiles are making ships increasingly
difficult to defend, more capable missiles, guns and
electronic countermeasures are available to deal with them.
The undeniable fact is that we still need ships.
There are many places in the world outside the range of
tactical aircraft where no airports exist for strategic
airlift inputs. The sheer volume and weight of our equip-
ment makes anything but the very smallest operation un-
supportable by airlift only. During Korea and Vietnam 95
percent of the dry cargo and 99 percent of the fuel was
transported by surface ships.3 We can expect the same high
percentages in future conflicts. The nearly 8000 mile
distance between Great Britain and the Falklands high-
lighted logistical difficulties of projecting a force on a
foreign soil. The surface ships may be difficult to defend
in some scenarios but the fact remains that they are often
the only means of operating aircraft and delivering troops
and supplies to certain areas of the world.
It is interesting to note that so much attention has
been paid to the fact that a $250,000 missile sank a $50
million ship and so little attention has been paid to the
fact that less than $5,000 worth of MK80 series general
purpose iron bombs or $13,000 worth of guided bombs could
do the same thing.4 The Sheffield was not the only vessel
destroyed by the Exocet missile of course. The dramatic
difference was that Sheffield was a warship with defenses
supposedly capable of protecting her. As the container
ship Atlantic Conveyor was unarmed, its loss was less
One of the consequences of the sinking of the Sheffield
was to focus thought on the growing vulnerability of surface
ships.5 To some, this meant that navies should transition
to more numerous, smaller ships. To others, including the
highest levels of the U.S. Navy, the sinking was testimony
that smaller, cheaper, less well armed combatant ships
represent false economies because of increased vulnerability.
The sinking provided additional justification to support the
modernization of the U.S. Navy's battleships. U.S. Navy
officials point to the loss of the Royal Navy ships and
postulate that if any of the fourteen successful attacks
against the British ships had instead hit the battleship
New Jersey, the ship would have been able to continue
operations because of its size, damage control facilities
and solid construction. One source has gone on to say that
the Exocet missile would not have been able to penetrate
the armor system of New Jersey, and it is doubtful any of
the bombs which hit the British ships would have penetrated
to a vital space or done significant damage to a modern
U.S. aircraft carrier.6 The statement is probably too
strong, however, because it ignores the fact that the
fragine aircraft on the carrier's flight deck are very
vulnerable to damage. To protect those aircraft and all
its ships the Navy is installing the Vulcan/Phalanx 20mm
point defense gun on most surface combatants, and is
evaluating the need for increased chaff and electronic
Any analysis of the South Atlantic conflict must high-
light the shortfalls in Royal Navy air defenses. Predom-
inant among their defensive problems was the egregious
lack of airborne earlywarning (AEW). Admiral Woodward, the
Task Force commander, was very much aware of these defense
deficiencies. Undoubtedly he would have been pleased to
have had more capable aircraft carriers. A Nimitz class
carrier with its complement of AEW,long-range interceptors,
tankers, antisubmarine aircraft and all weather attack
bombers could have made the execution of his task immea-
surably easier. Even the Royal Navy's former carrier Ark
Royal with F-4 and Gannett AEW aircraft would have been a
real asset. But the British went to war with the units
and equipment they had, not with what they wish they had
had. It matters little that the decision to remove the AEW
aircraft and the ship from which it operated from the Navy
inventory was a political vice military decision. What
does matter is that the Royal Navy made do with what it had
and that its personnel performed admirably despite manifest
shortcomings in bits and pieces.
To meet the need for an AEW aircraft, the Royal Navy
has successfully deployed several Sea King helicopters
equipped with Searchwater Early Warning Radar.7 The U.S.
Navy should examine the feasibility of a U.S. Navy
helicopter-borne AEW capability to complement existing
fixed wing assets. The U.S. Navy also flies the Sea King
helicopter. An AEW version could expand the capability of
amphibious ships or surface action groups operating outside
The loss of HMS Sheffield highlights the continuing
requirement for effective close in defensive systems. The
Sea Wolf missile was effective but in short supply, only
two ships carried the system. The hand operated 20mm gun
was plentiful but ineffective in stopping a high performance
aircraft or missile. The British needed a system which
would include a capable detection radar, an accurate fire
control system, an effective close-in missile, heavy and
light guns, especially one such as the Vulcan/Phlanx 20mm
gun, and an electronic countermeasures suit. This shipboard
package should be complemented by an around-the-clock, all
weather fighter umbrella. The Harrier and its Sidewinder
missiles is a good aircraft but a supersonic aircraft armed
with the Sparrow or Phoenix missile would be the most capa-
ble of meeting a sophisticated air threat.
The South Atlantic conflict also identified several
lessons relating to submarine warfare. The value of proper
preventative maintenance was clearly demonstrated. The
Argentines were unable to field a significant submarine
threat because of the poor mechanical condition of their
submarines. (Two couldn't get underway, one was destroyed
before she could fire a torpedo and the fourth reportedly
couldn't control the torpedos it did fire.) In contrast,
the Royal Navy was able to deploy sufficient submarine
assets on very short notice to complete their required
missions. An effective maintenance program enabled these
units to remain on station without serious degradation of
The sinking of the General Belgrano blooded the nu-
clear submarine as an offensive weapon. The defensive
mission of the submarine was highlighted when the Argentine
fleet returned to port after the cruiser's sinking and
never again attempted to challenge the British Task Force.
Finally, the value of nuclear propulsion was demon-
strated by Royal Navy submarines which were able to transit
more than 7000 miles from Britain to the Falklands in only
thirteen days. Once on station the submarines were able to
remain submerged and avoid detection. To the Argentines,
the fact that the submarines couldn't be located anywhere
emphasized that they could be everywhere.
The British determined that optical designation and
guidance modes for their close in surface to air missile
systems were necessary in coastal areas where terrain
masking and land clutter degraded the radar controlled
operating modes. In like circumstances, high sea condi-
tions, or when battle damage or electronic countermeasures
defeat or degrade the radar capability, a visual, back up
mode for close-in defense weapons could be extremely impor-
tant. Those systems lacking a visual mode should receive
one. Future weapons systems should be designed with an
optical back up system.
The British were satisfied with their decision to for-
ward base some of their Harriers at San Carlos. The small
advance field they established ashore with AM-2 matting
demonstrated the ruggedness and versatility of the aircraft.
The limited fueling capability of the site permitted Sea
Harriers operating as Combat Air Patrols to extend their
average time on station from ten to fifty minutes. The site
also had enough parking room to prestage several Harrier
GR.3s so as to more promptly respond to close air support
requests from the ground forces.9 This success with advance
basing confirms the U.S. Marine Corps forward basing con-
The Argentine destruction of HMS Sheffield and Atlantic
Conveyor were virtually identical in method, yet it is the
Sheffield which has received the majority of the attention.
We should not dismiss the loss of Atlantic Conveyor simply
because it lacks the damage control features of a typical
warship. The ships of the U.S. merchant fleet which are
also undefended and lack damage control features are equally
vulnerable. We need to continue work in developing "bolt
on" defensive systems for these ships. At a minimum, these
ships could be equipped with chaff dispensers and other ECM
equipment when entering a war zone. For additional protection,
the ships could receive a close-in weapon system already
prepackaged in several MILVANs. A 20mm Vulcan cannon or
Rapier missile launcher could be quickly installed aboard
any type vessel.
The Royal Navy's experience with V/STOL carriers veri-
fied several small ship design considerations which may
prove useful to the U.S. Navy. The "ski jump" ramps on the
forward portion of the flight deck increased the performance
and safety of Harrier operations. Additionally, the British
were pleased with the effectiveness of their active fin roll
stabilization units. This equipment increased the roll
stability of the ships in rough seas. In fact, the British
have claimed that the combination of the ramp and stabili-
zation fins permitted them to operate in higher sea states
than were possible with their former, conventional carrier,
Ark Royal. The U.S. Navy is installing roll stabilization
systems in its FFG-7 frigates. The system could be fitted
aboard other ship types as well.
Presently, neither the LHA nor the LPH have the "ski
jump" ramp, possibly because its permanent installation
would reduce the available number of helicopter landing
spots on the flight deck. Perhaps the answer would be a
portable, lightweight assembly which could be installed
before Harriers are embarked and removed after they leave.
The losses of the Royal Navy ships have provided many
lessons relating to vessel design and shipboard damage
control. A summary of several of the most important are
Damage Control Central. Shipboard battle damage is
limited and repaired from the Damage Control Center. In
many British ships this facility is co-located with the
ships propulsion engineering control station. Many did not
have a secondary damage control central. In at least three
incidents, ships suffered damage that put the center out of
action and no alternate facility was available. All three
ships were sunk. The Royal Navy now requires that new con-
struction ships have two separate damage control centrals.10
System Redundancy. In nearly every sinking of a Royal
Navy ship, the crew was endangered by the failure of the
ship's vital systems. On several occasions, fire mains were
ruptured by bombs or missiles leaving part of the ship with-
out firefighting water. Electrical power or communications
was lost between major sections of the ship. Cabling in
many Royal Navy ships is bundled and runs along the hull of
the ship. A single bomb or rocket hit, even one that failed
to explode, which cut the bundle rendered the ship helpless.11
Thermal Imaging Devices. When Sheffield was set afire
by the Exocet missile, the ship was quickly filled with
thick, black smoke that prevented the firefighters from
seeing the fire. After the Sheffield loss, the Royal Navy
borrowed infrared thermal imaging viewers from the British
civilian firefighters and by the completion of the conflict,
each vessel had three of the devices. The Royal Navy is
planning to purchase these for each of their ships.12
Emergency Breathing Apparatus. Prior to the conflict,
the Royal Navy issued portable breathing equipment to all
its engineering plant personnel. However, several
nonengineering personnel assigned below decks were lost when
they were unable to escape without the emergency breathing
gear. The Royal Navy will now provide the equipment to all
personnel with battle stations below deck.13
Aluminum. Many critics have challenged the use of
aluminum in the Royal Navy ships. Although its use did not
directly contribute directly to the loss of combatant, there
were instances where hot aluminum bulkheads buckled when
sprayed with cold firefighting water. The bulkling caused
the loss of airtight boundaries which made fire fighting and
smoke containment more difficult. Reportedly, future British
ship designs will exclude aluminum.14
It is interesting to observe that both sides in the
South Atlantic conflict used weapons that could have been
considered obsolete. Both the carrier Hermes and the car-
rier Vienticinco De Mayo were built during the 1940s, the
cruiser General Belgrano was built in the 1930s, the British
torpedoes were designed during the 1920s. Yet in many cases,
including the Belgrano and the torpedoes used to sink her,
these weapons systems were still the most effective their
country had available to accomplish particular missions.15
In other cases, such as the Argentine use of British
built moored mines in the Falklands Sound, the weapon had
been cast off by one nation in favor of more sophisticated
system only to have the discarded system acquired by a
nation whose needs were not as advanced. (Another example,
two of the Argentine diesel submarines were former U.S. Navy
vessels.) One advantage of retaining the less sophisticated
equipment is that if the more modern systems are all expended,
the former equipment may still be used. Finally, modern
armed forces cannot ignore old weapons systems in planning
defenses since, as the British found out, the customer of
today may be the enemy of tomorrow.16
Force is never more operative that when it
is known to exist but is not brandished.1
Admiral Alfred Thayer Mahan
The Argentine government erred in believing the British
would not try to retake the Falkland Islands. After de-
tecting scant British interest in the region and minuscule
Royal Navy protection, the Argentines assumed the Falklands
could be taken de facto with just a show of force.2 In
reality Argentine had neither the political-military cohe-
sion nor a sufficiently realistic strategy to ensure control
of the islands. A large number of troops and a substantial
amount of equipment were put ashore, but it appears their
commander, General Mendez, had no real plans for their
effective employment. The majority of effort to prevent
the British recapture was performed by the Argentine Air
Force and naval aviation assets.
The British were unwilling to give up the distant
islands and quickly prepared a task force to reclaim the
Malvinas. But even as the Royal Navy Task Force got under-
way for the South Atlantic, most of the British military
and political leaders mistakenly assumed a diplomatic reso-
lution would be reached before combat became necessary.
The difference between the two countries is that the British
went to war with their best forces available while the
Argentines sent only second rate troops. They failed to
strenghten their antiair defenses, or to commit their best
ground troops or provide professional leadership for con-
scripts.3 Argentina's leaders helped the British ground
forces to retake the islands despite being outnumbered
nearly two-to-one. The success of the British forces con-
firmed the combined arms concept and the valve of disci-
plined, well trained, professionally led troops.4
The British recapture of the Falklands also high-
lighted the unique ability of maritime forces to project
and sustain forces at great distances in support of national
strategy and to protect national interests. There is no
other way whereby a nation can project power across the
oceans and force an entry ashore at a predetermined time
and place.5 The British use of these ships and the ground
forces they carried was well planned and executed even when
the odds seemed to be against them. Firm decisions and
determination at Britain's highest leadership levels pro-
vided the example and set the stage for the battlefield
successes. It was a war against time and the elements as
well as against the Argentine military. Quality of per-
sonnel and professional skill overcame the disadvantages
with which the Task Force was burdened. Additionally, the
full support of the British people at home was an important
For the first time in many years the British
people have seen something to be proud of:
a tremendous feat of arms accomplished with
superb professional skill; leadership which
neither swerved nor weakened; patriotism
instead of economics, courage and sacrifice
instead of greed and self-interest; attack
instead of retreat; a fight for the flag.
The Union Jack has been restored not only
to Port Stanley but to Britain.
Anthony Levine, National Review,
July 1982, p. 898.
Click here to view image
CHAPTER ONE: SUMMARY OF EVENTS LEADING TO WAR
1Max Hastings and Simon Jenkins, The Battle for the
Falklands, (New York, N.Y.: W. W. Norton and Company, 1983),
2Hastings, p. 2.
3Hastings, p. 3.
4Hastings, p. 3.
5Hastings, p. 3.
6Hastings, p. 5.
7Hastings, p. 7.
8Hastings, p. 46.
9Hastings, p. 47.
10Lawrence Freedman, "The War in the Falkland Islands"
Foreign Affairs, Fall 1982, p. 196.
11Time, April 12, 1982, p. 42.
12Economist, June 19, 1982, p. 35.
13"The South Atlantic Conflict, Lessons Learned" Vol. 1,
"Summary of Principal Conclusions and Recommendations" Report
of the Falkland Islands Study Group to the Secretary of the
Navy (Portions classified SECRET) March 1983, p. 1.
14John Laffin, Fight for the Falklands! (New York, NY:
St. Martin's Press, 1982), p. 17.
15"The South Atlantic Conflict," p. XVII.
CHAPTER TWO: SUMMARY OF OPPOSING FORCES
1M. J. Armitage and R. A. Mason, Air Power in the
Nuclear Age (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1983),
2Sir Terence Lewin speech to the Royal United Services
Institute, 24 June 1982.
3Sir Terence Lewin.
4Capt. V. R. Villar, "A Change of Direction is Needed,
Lessons from the Falklands" Jane's Defense Review 6/1982,
5Villar, p. 593.
6"The South Atlantic Conflict" Vol. 1, p. Ex-13.
7Stephen S. Roberts "Western European and NATO Navies"
Proceedings, March, 1983: p. 41.
8"The South Atlantic Conflict, Lessons Learned" Vol. II
Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations," Report of the
Falkland Islands Study Group to the Secretary of the Navy
(Portions classified SECRET), p. 28.
9The South Atlantic Conflict Vol. II, p. VI-I.
10The South Atlantic Conflict Vol. II, p. VI-I.
11"Sink the Santa Fe!" At War in the Falklands (Canoga
Park, California: Challenge Publications Inc., 1983), p. 57.
12Freedman, p. 58.
13"The South Atlantic Conflict" Vol. II, p. V-32.
14The South Atlantic Conflict Vol. II, p. V-32.
15Armitage and Mason, pp. 277-278.
16Hastings and Jenkins, p. 219.
CHAPTER THREE: THE SUPER ETENDARD
1Brian Walters, "The Dassault Breguet Super Etendard"
Navy International, June 1982, p. 1096.
2Robert L. Scheima, "Super Etendard; Super Squadron"
Proceedings, March 1983, p. 135.
CHAPTER FOUR: THE EXOCET MISSILE
1Damian Housman, "Lessons of Naval Warfare" National
Review, July 23, 1982, p. 895.
2Armed Forces Journal International, July 1982, p. 30.
3Armed Forces Journal International, p. 30.
4Aviation and Week and Space Technology, June 1982,
5RADM Julian S. Lake,"Taking a New Look at Naval Needs
After the Falklands," Defense Electronics, October 1982,
CHAPTER FIVE: WEATHER
1"The South Atlantic Conflict" Vol. I, p. 20.
2Hastings, p. 1.
3"The South Atlantic Conflict" Vol. I, p. 20.
4Lt. D. Smith, "Operating Sea Harriers in the South
Atlantic" Naval Forces, No. VI/1982, Vol III, p. 73.
CHAPTER SIX: ELECTRONIC WARFARE
1RADM Julian Lake, p. 71.
2RADM Julian Lake, p. 72.
3Air Vice Marshall Stewart W. B. Menaul, "The Falklands
Campaign: A War of Yesterday" Strategic Review, Fall 1982,
4Menaul, p. 89.
5RADM Julian Lake, pp. 79-80.
6RADM Julian Lake, p. 80.
7Roy M. Braybrook, "Helicopters in the South Atlantic
War," At War in the Falklands (Canoga Park, California:
Challenge Publications, 1983), p. 93.
CHAPTER SEVEN: BRITISH LAND BASED AIRCRAFT
1Robert Trimble, "Black Buck" At War in the Falklands
(Canoga Park, California: Challenge Publications, 1983),
2Trimble, p. 23.
3Trimble, p. 25.
4Trimble, p. 27.
5Strategic Review, Fall 1982, p. 89.
6Trimble, p. 26.
7Trimb1e, p. 26.
8"The Falklands Crisis: Operations and Progress after
May 25" Navy International, Vol. 87, No. 8, August 1982,
9Captain John O. Coote, "Send Her Victorious" Pro-
ceedings, January 1983, p. 38.
10Armitage and Mason, pp. 208-209.
CHAPTER EIGHT: THE HARRIER IN THE AIR DEFENSE ROLE
1Navy International, May 1982, p. 1038.
2"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. VI-2.
3"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. VI-2.
4"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. VII-16.
5"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. VII-16.
6Roy Braybrook, "Harriers at War" At War in the Falk-
lands (Canoga Park, California: Challenge Publications, 1983)
7"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. VII-17.
8"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. VII-l7.
9"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. VII-17.
10"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. VII-9.
11"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. H-5.
12"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. VI-6.
13Braybrook, p. 33.
14Braybrook, p. 33.
15Braybrook, p. 34.
16"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. VII-9.
17Braybrook, p. 35.
18Braybrook, p. 36.
19"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. 18.
20Navy International, June 1982, p. 1098.
21Jeff Ethell, "Mirage Squadron, An interview with
Comodoro Carlos E. Corino, Commander Grupo 8 De Caza and one
of his pilots" At War in the Falklands (Canoga Park, Cali-
fornia: Challenge Publications 1983), p. 49.
22"Lessons of the Falklands," Summary Report Department
of the Navy, Washington, DC, February 1983, p. 27.
23Braybrook, p. 41.
24"Lessons of the Falklands," p. 27.
25Braybrook, p. 41.
26Braybrook, p. 41.
27Armitage and Mason, p. 218.
29"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. I, p. EX-10.
CHAPTER NINE: SHIPBOARD AIR DEFENSES
1Journal of Electronic Defense, August 1983, p. 39.
2Lon Nordeen, "An Update on Ship-to-Air Missiles"
Naval Forces, No. VI, 1982, Vol. III, p. 52.
3Journal of Electronic Defense, August 1983, p. 37.
4Journal of Electronic Defense, August 1983, p. 37.
5"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. V-3.
6"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. V-2.
7Journal of Electronic Defense, August 1983, p. 39.
8Damian Housman, "Lessons of Naval Warfare" National
Review, July 23, 1982, p. 895.
9CDR Honeyball, interview of 27 February 1984.
10Hastings and Jenkins, p. 205.
11"South Atlantic Conflict," Summary Report, pp. 1-3.
12A. H. Cordesman, "The Falklands Crisis; Emerging
Lessons for Power Projection and Force Planning" Armed
Forces Journal International, September 1982, pp. 29-46.
13Strategic Review, Fall 1982, p. 85.
14Strategic Review, Fall 1982, p. 85.
15Normal Friedman, "The Falklands War: Lessons Learned
and Mislearned" ORBIS A Journal of World Affairs, Winter 1983,
Volume 26, Number 4, p. 925. Reprinted in Current News
Special Edition, 22 June 1982, p. 1-18.
16Friedman, p. 925.
17Friedman, p. 925.
18Friedman, p. 925.
19Friedman, p. 925.
20South Atlantic Conflict, Vol. II, p. B-2.
21Ethell, "Mirage Squadron," p. 51.
22Hastings, p. 225.
23A. H. Cordesman, "The Falklands Crisis, Emerging
Lessons for Power Projection and Force Planning" Armed
Forces Journal International, September 1982, p. 46.
CHAPTER TEN: ARGENTINE AIR FORCE TACTICS
1Ethell, "Mirage Squadron," p. 48.
2Jeff Ethell, and Michael O'Leary, "Strike, Strike,
Strike!" At War in the Falklands (Canoga Park, California:
Challenge Publications, 1983), p. 8.
3Ethell, "Strike Strike Strike!", p. 8.
4Armitage and Mason, p. 205.
5Armitage and Mason, p. 215.
6Armitage and Mason, p. 215.
CHAPTER ELEVEN: SHORE BASED AIR DEFENSES
1"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. I, p. E-1.
2Hastings, p. 211.
3Hastings, p. 211.
4"South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. 1, p. EX-8.
5"The Falklands: Warning, Intelligence and Diplomacy"
Armed Forces Journal International, September 12, 1982, p. 32.
CHAPTER TWELVE: ARGENTINE AIR ATTACKS
1Armitage and Mason, p. 212.
2"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. XXII.
3Armitage and Mason, p. 212.
4Armitage and Mason, p. 212.
5Armitage and Mason, p. 212.
6Armitage and Mason, p. 213.
7Armitage and Mason, p. 213.
8Laffin, p. 93.
9Armitage and Mason, p. 214.
10"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. XXIII.
11Armitage and Mason, p. 214.
12Hastings, pp. 233-253.
13Armitage and Mason, p. 214.
14"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. XXIII.
15Armitage and Mason, p. 215.
16Armitage and Mason, p. 217.
17Armitage and Mason, p. 217.
18Hastings, p. 297.
19Armitage and Mason, p. 218.
20Armitage and Mason, p. 218.
CHAPTER THIRTEEN: DESTRUCTION OF AIRCRAFT ON THE GROUND
1G. L. Guertner, "The 74 Day Way: New Technology, Old
Tactics" Military Review, November 1982, p. 67.
CHAPTER FOURTEEN: LESSONS LEARNED
1Sir Terence Lewin Speech of 24 June 1982.
2Sir Terence Lewin.
3RADM Hamm address to Marine Corps Command and Staff
College of 10 January 1984.
4Cordesman, pp. 29-46.
5Adm. Stansfield Turner, "The Sheffield Shock"
Newsweek, May 17, 1982, p. 45.
6Journal of Electronic Defense, p. 32.
7"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. 11.
8"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. X-15,16.
9Armitage and Mason, p. 217.
10"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. XI-12.
11"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. XI-12.
12"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. XI-12.
13"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. XI-12.
14"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. XI-12.
15"The South Atlantic Conflict, Lessons Learned,"
16"The South Atlantic Conflict, Lessons Learned,"
CHAPTER FIFTEEN: CONCLUSION
1Military Review, November 1982, p. 51.
2Brig. Gen. J. D. Hittle, "Cost Cutting at RN Expense
was Primary Cause of the Falklands War" Congressional Record,
128: E4130-E4131, September 13, 1982.
3"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. I, p. 1.
4"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. I, p. 1.
5"The South Atlantic Conflict," Vol. II, p. XII-2.
6Strategic Review, Fall 1982, p. 91.
A. Cronology, "The South Atlantic Conflict," pp. 15-21.
B. Maps: "Lessons of the Falklands Summary Report,"
pp. 16, 20.
Telephone interview with CDR Honeyball, Air Staff Officer to
RADM Woodward, British Task Force Commander in the
Falklands Conflict, 27 February 1984. CDR Honeyball
is presently on duty in the United States on the staff
of NAVAIR in Washington.
"Lessons and Implications from the South Atlantic Conflict"
DoD/IDA Task Force Report R-27l IDA L06# HQ 83-25722/6
Office of the Secretary of Defense, Director Net as-
sessment. (SECRET) 6 volumes, November 1983. The
most comprehensive account of the conflict. Distri-
bution is controlled by the originator, however.
"Lessons of the Falklands" summary report, Department of
the Navy, Washington, D.C., February 1983.
"The South Atlantic Conflict, Lessons Learned Vol. I
Summary of Principal Conclusions and Recommendations."
Report of the Falkland Islands Study Group to the
Secretary of the Navy (SECRET), March 1983.
"The South Atlantic Conflict, Lessons Learned Vol. II
Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations." Report of
the Falkland Islands Study Group to the Secretary of
the Navy (SECRET), March 1983.
Abhau, W. C. RADM USN. "A Suggestion Regarding the Falklands
Study," memo to LTGEN Shutler of 14 January 1983.
"The Aerospatiale AM-39 Exocet Missile." Navy International
June 1982, 1098-1099.
Ambrose, Andrew I. "Arming Merchant Ships," Naval Forces
No. V1/1982 Vol. III, 60-64.
Armitage, M. J. and R. A. Mason. Air Power in the Nuclear
Age, Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1983.
Excellent summary of British and Argentine air opera-
Barger, Milliar I. "Seawolf Knocks out Exocet in Sea Trials,"
Armed Forces Journal International, February 1984, 36.
Beck, Peter J. "Britains Antarctic Dimension," International
Affairs, Summer 1983, Volume 59, Number 3 reprinted in
Current News, Special Edition, 19-30 includes discussion
of removal of research vessel Endurance from South Atlantic.
Bonsignore, E. "Hard lessons from the South Atlantic,"
Military Technology 6/1982, 31-36. Some sources have
surmised that the Exocet missile which struck HMS
Sheffield exploded. This article provides evidence to
indicate the missile did not detonate.
Braybrook, Roy M. "Harriers at War," At War in the Falklands
Challenge Publications Inc., Canoga Park, California,
Cable, Sir James. "The Falklands Conflict," Proceedings
September 1982, 70-76.
Calvert, Peter. "Soverenty and the Falklands Crisis,"
International Affairs, Summer 1983, Volume 59, Number
3. Reprinted in Current News Special Edition, 9
November 1983, 8-12.
Coote, Captain John O., Royal Navy. "Send Her Victorious
" Proceedings, January 1983, 33-42.
Cordesman, A. H. "The Falklands Crises; Emerging lessons
for the power projection and force planning," Armed
Forces Journal International, September 1982, 29-46.
Good discussion of aircraft tactics. Author makes the
point that a mix of FA-18 and AH-64 aircraft might be
cheaper and more capable than the Harrier.
Dar, Major General E. H. (Pakistani Army). "Strategy in the
Falklands War," Proceedings, March 1983, 132-134.
Article is primarily orientated to the land campaign.
Drysdale, Major David (AOO HMS Hermes). "The War at Sea,"
Globe and Laurel, July-Aug. 1982, 228-232. The Globe
and Laurel is the professional publication of the
Dunnett, Denzil. "Self-Determination and the Falklands,"
International Affairs Vol. 59, Number 3, Summer 1983.
Printed in Current News Special Edition 9 November
Ethel, Jeff. "Mirage Squadron, An Interview with Comodoro
Carlos E. Corino, Commander Grudo 8. DeCaza and one of
his pilots," At War in the Falklands, Challenge Publi-
cations, Inc., Canoga Park, California, 1983, 46-51.
A rare interview with the commander of one of the
Argentine Air Force Squadrons.
Ethell, Jeff. "Pocara," At War in the Falklands, Challenge
Publications, Inc., Canoga Park, California, 1983,
Ethell, Jeff and Michael O'Leary. "Strike, Strike and
Strike! The story of Argentina's air war against the
British." At War in the Falklands, Challenge Publi-
cations, Canoga Park, California, 1982, 4-21. One of
the few articles which present the Argentine viewpoint.
"The Falklands Crisis Operations and Progress after May 25,"
Navy International, Vol. 87, No. 8, August 1982, 1222-
"The Falklands: Warning, Intelligence, and Diplomacy,"
Armed Forces Journal International, September 1982,
Freedman, Lawrence. "The War in the Falkland Islands,"
Foreign Affairs, Fall 1982, 196-198.
Friedman, Normal. "The Falklands War: Lessons learned and
mislearned," ORBIS A Journal of World Affairs, Winter
1983, Volume 26, Number 4, 907-940. Reprinted in
Current News Special Edition, 22 June 1982, 1-18.
Getler, Michael. "U.S. Air to Britain in Falklands War is
Detailed," Washington Post March 7, 1984, p. A9. States
U.S. was prepared to offer use of the U.S. Navy heli-
copter carrier USS Guam to Britain if either of the
Royal Navy carriers were lost during the Falkland
Gorton, Steven. "Thoughts on the Falkland Islands War,"
Proceedings September 1982, 105-107.
Guertner, G. L. "The 74 day War; new technology, old
tactics," Military Review November 1982, 65-72.
Hackett, General Sir John. "Be Bold, Bloody and Quick,"
Time, May 10, 1982, 29.
Hastings, Max and Simon Jenkins. The Battle for the Falk-
lands. New York, N.Y.: W.W. Norton and Company, 1983.
Excellent account of the political history of the
Housman, Damian. "Lessons of Naval Warfare," National Re-
view July 23, 1982, 895. A comparison of U.S. Navy
and Royal Navy Air Defense assets.
Kelsey, Commander Robert J. USN. "Maneuvering in the
Falklands," Proceedings, September 1982, 36-37.
Kennedy, Floyd D. "Sea Service," National Defense Journal
of the American Defense Preparedness Association.
January 1984, 9-10.
Laffin, John. Fight for the Falklands! New York, N.Y.:
St, Martin's Press, 1982. The first book about the
war to be published. Not as complete or accurate as
the Hastings book.
Lake, RADM J. S. "A tactical analysis of the South Atlantic
War." Naval Forces 6/1982, 32-26.
Lake, RADM Julian S. "Taking a New Look at Naval Needs
After the Falklands," Defense Electronics October 1982,
Vol. 14, 78.
Lebow, Richard Ned. "Miscalculation in the South Atlantic:
The Origins of the Falkland War," Journal of Strategic
Studies March 1983, Vol. 6, Number 1: 5-35. Reprinted
in Current News Special Edition 9 August 1983, 1-16.
Lejeune, Anthony. "Colonel Blimp's Day," National Review
July 23, 1982, 898.
"Lost at Sea," At War in the Falklands Challenge Publications
Inc., Canoga Park, California, 1983, 74-79.
MacKay, Gillian. "The Falklands: Picking Up the Broken
Pieces," MacLeans June 28, 1982, 22-23.
Makin, Guillermo A. "Argentine approaches to the Falklands/
Malvinas: was the resort to violence foreseeable?"
International Affairs Summer 1983, Volume 59, Number 3,
391-452. Reprinted in Current News Special Edition
9 November 1983, 1-7.
Menaul, Air Vice Marshall Stewart. "The Falklands Campaign:
A War of Yesterday," Strategic Review, Fall 1982, 85-87.
Excellent discussion of military hardware used in the
Nicholls, Capt. D. V. RM (Public Relations Officer with 3
Commando Brigade). "Amphibious Victory," Globe and
Laurel July-Aug. 1982, 220-227.
Nordeen, Lon O. "An Update on Ship-to-Air Missiles," Naval
Forces, No. VI-1982, Vol. III, 48-52.
Nutwell, Commander Robert M. USN. "Postscript: The Falk-
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O'Ballance, E. "The Other Falkland Campaign (The role of
the media)." Military Review January 1983, 9-16.
"Peace?" Editorial Navy International, Vol. 87, No. 7,
July 1982, 1157-1165.
Reece, Colonel M. J. British Defense Staff, Washington
letter to General John W. Vessey, USA Chairman, Joint
Chiefs of Staff of 8 July 1982 forwarding the text of
a speech made by Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Terence
Lewin, British Chief of the General Staff, to the Royal
United Services Institute, 24 June 1982.
Roberts, Stephen S. "Western European and NATO Navies,"
Proceedings March 1983, 34-41.
Russel, George. "Battle of the Microchips," Time May 17,
Russel, George. "Face-off on the High Seas, the British
and Argentines Brace for Combat over the Falklands,"
Time April 19, 1982, 26-37.
Russel, George. "Nearing the Moment of Truth," Time May 3,
1982, 30, 31.
Scheima, Robert L. "Super Etendard; Super Squadron,"
Proceedings March 1983: 135-137. Pictures included
with the article show that all five Super Etendard
aircraft survived the war.
Simmons, Henry. "Lessons of the Falklands," Astronautics
and Aeronautics July-August 1982, 6.
"Sink the Santa Fe!" At War in the Falklands, Challenge
Publications, Inc. Canoga Park, California, 1983, 56-59.
Smith (Lt. D.). "Operating Sea Harriers in the South
Atlantic," Naval Forces 6/1982, 72-76.
Smith, M. Press Officer, Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering
Ltd. Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria, England. Letter of 13
December 1983. Vickers Shipbuilding manufactures the
Sea Wolf and Sea Dart missile launchers.
"Some Reflections on British Operations in the Falkland
Islands," New Zealand International Review November/
December 1982, 2-7.
Strasser, Steven and David C. Martin "Are Big Warships Doomed?
Newsweek, May 17, 1982, 32-45.
Strasser, Steven, and 7 others. "Britannia Scorns to Yield,"
Newsweek, April 19, 1982, 40-46.
"That Magnificent Flying Machine," Time, June 7, 1982, 38.
Discussion of Harrier aircraft.
Trimble, Robert. "Black Buck," At War in the Falklands
Challenge Publications Inc., Canoga Park, California,
1983, 22-27. A description of the Vulcan bomber.
"Triumph and Tragedy of the Atlantic Conveyor," At War in the
Falklands, Challenge Publications, Inc., Canoga Park,
California, 1983, 52-55.
Turner, ADM Stansfield. "The Sheffield Shock," Newsweek
May 17, 1982, 45-46. Admiral Turner is a former pres-
ident of the Naval War College and past director of
the Central Intelligence Agency.
Turner, Admiral Stansfield. USN "The Unobvious Lessons of
the Falklands War," Proceedings, April 1983, 50-57.
Villar (Capt. V. R.). "A change of direction is needed.
Lessons from the Falklands," Jane's Defense Review
Walker, P. F. "Smart Weapons in Naval Warfare," Scientific
American May 1983, 53-61.
Walters, Brian. "Air Power---A Decisive Element in the
Falklands Campaign," Navy International, Vol. 87,
No. 7, July 1982, 1164.
Walters, Brian. "The Dassault Breguet Super Etendard,"
Navy International June 1982, 1096-1098. One of the
best descriptions of this aircraft.
"The War is On." Newsweek, May 10, 1982, 28-31.
Whitaker, Mark, Tony Clifton and 5 others. "An Odd Little
War Turns Very Ugly," Newsweek, May 17, 1982, 28-31.
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