Falklands War Essay
Question: How effective were British air, land and naval tactics in defeating Argentina in the 1982 Falklands War?
Britain were victorious in the 1982 Falklands war against Argentina, during the war they employed several successful tactics through their air, land and naval departments. Causes of the war include; Argentina’s devastating economic crisis and the invasion they staged of the Falkland Islands, which were under British rule, on the 2nd of April 1982. Argentina were under the rule of a military dictatorship and to cover up the country’s severe economic crisis, President Leopoldo Galtieri ordered the invasion of the Falkland Islands in an attempt to regain his reputation from the population, as his popularity was rapidly decreasing.
Airpower played an important role in the campaign. Tactics including; counter air (offensive/defensive), close air support and strategic bombing were all employed. Defensive counter air was the first mission to be addressed. The first line of defence was the Sea Harrier, second line was guided missile destroyers placed on the expected axis of attack between attackers and task force and the final line was point defence which used close-in weapon systems, including radar controlled or manually sighted missiles and guns. Despite having a slow start; offensive counter air was carried out through Sea Harrier airfield attack missiles at Port Stanley, Darwin and Goose Green. Targets were Pucura aircraft and helicopters. RAF Harrier GR3’s also joined the taskforce and were effective in close air support. From San Carlos to Port Stanley, the RAF Harrier pilots were often called upon to reduce defenses and resistance of Argentine troops. On the 1st of May, the British offensive campaign began through long-range strategic bombing. Vulcan bombers, refitted with refueling probes, flew through Ascension to the Falkland Islands, dropped 21 1000lb bombs on Port Stanley airfields and returned to Ascension. Source A (see appendix) shows the route the Vulcans took and the four refueling brackets they used to reach the Falkland Islands from Ascension. This source is relevant as it shows how the Vulcans were able to complete the attack; it shows little to no bias, as it is a factual map and is reliable as it is from a renowned best-seller book. This attack took less than 16 hours and several took place throughout the campaign. Defensive counter air was significant as the primary concern of the fleet commander was to gain air superiority, control of air warfare and air power over opposing forces.
Before air superiority could be achieved, several lines of defence needed to be employed. Offensive counter air was important as it softened Argentine defenses, confidence and resistance of their defending troops. Close air support provided quicker response to the ground commander’s requests and reduced turnaround time. Strategic bombing was very effective as it harassed the Argentine force at almost all times, sho...