Falklands War Lessons
The 1982 war to liberate the Falklands was Britains last unilateral conflict where we defeated an enemy largely unaided.
There is always the argument that the US supplied latest Side-Winder missiles, that could be fired towards an approaching target, was an important factor, but the fact remains that it was British Soldiers, Sailors & Airmen who took on the Argentinians & won.
This article is not about the rights & wrongs of the conflict, or how it could be avoided, simply that in 1982 the Royal Navy came very close to being defeated, and we want to know if this could happen again.
Nearly defeated you say? We won out-right. If the Argentinians had had more Exocet missiles, the situation would have been much worse, and we might have lost. The Argentinians fired every Exocet they had, & they all hit.
In 1982 the Royal Navy had 2 carriers, the Invincible and Bulwark, carry helicopters & the Sea Harrier "Jump-Jet", but tellingly no long-range Early Warning Aircraft.
Untested in combat, the Sea Harrier was unique in that it could take off & land vertically. Both Invincible & Bulwark were fitted with "Ski Jumps" so the Harriers could take off conventionaly, to save fuel & increase flight time.
The Navy had scrapped its last Fleet-Carrier, the Ark Royal, and with it the last ship capable of launching large fighter bombers such as Phantoms from its steam catapult.
Compared to a Phantom, with its heavy bomb & missle loads, & supersonic speeds, the Harrier seemed puny, & no Match for the Argentinian Super Entendards & Mirages.
Despite its slow speeds & small weapons loads, the Sea Harrier proved to be an excellent combat aircraft, shooting down many Argentinian planes.
The lack of Awacs cover, & the Navy Ships inability to to deal with Sea-Skimming missiles still made it a close run thing, but the Royal Navy prevailed in the end.
Where does this leave us today, almost 25 year's later? The answer will scare you. The Royal Navy now only has one carrier, the Illustrious, and it carries Royal Air Force ground attack Harriers. Thats right, the Royal Navy has no Combat Fighter cover for its fleet. Unbelievable.
If we were to be involved in a conflict similair to the Falklands War, without the aid if the US, Britain could not suceed. A Navy needs air-cover, anf for now the Royal Navy hasn't got any.
We await the new Super Carriers with baited Breath, but until they arrive we have to say that the Government has not learned the lessons of the Falklands war.
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