Enhancing the Falkland Islands Defence on a Shoestring

The previous post from Sir Humphrey drew some great comments and a vigorous debate but I think there was more common ground than not.

Plan A, politics

Plan B, deterrence

Plan C, defence

Plan D, recapture

We are going to have to be monumentally incompetent to get to a point where Plan C is needed and Plan D, most unlikely but extreme low probability/high impact events do happen, just as BP or the shareholders of RBS.

I think we all pretty much agree that before we even get to discussions about defending the islands we must first look at intent and ability on behalf of the government and military of Argentina. In this there is a significant disparity between rhetoric and reality but the Falkland Islands remain an extremely powerful and emotive issue in Argentina. Sometimes I think we might be in danger of underestimating the depth of this emotion. The ‘Malvinas’ issue can always be relied upon to draw the gaze of a restive Argentine population, it’s an easy way to distract public opinion so in light of the recent and growing controversy around the train accident we might reasonably expect that dial to be turned to 11.

The usual suspects will continue to wade in and let’s not be expecting much solidarity from Spain either as the issue of Gibraltar remains a sore point. So, politically, there seems a rising tide of opinion, activity and pressure from multiple sources to which we must decide how to react.

In the previous discussion there were some great points but I thought one of the most interesting ones was the difference in cost between a small increment in defence capabilities to plug one or two potential vulnerabilities and mounting a recapture operation should those potential vulnerabilities be exploited by an intelligent and cunning enemy, or another way of saying this, what happens if we have miscalculated.

We should not underestimate the military capability on and around the Falkland Islands or over-estimate what Argentina can bring to bear.

However, it’s the weekend and it’s either this or a post on ISO containers so as a bit of fun I thought it would be good to discuss how the defence capabilities on the Falkland Islands could be enhanced.

Rules of the Road

Why Bother

Let’s assume, for the purposes of this weekend post, the grown-ups at the MoD have decided that in the face of a perceived increase in intent and the potential for an improving Argentine capability in a number of areas ‘something discrete’ has to be done.


As we all know, whenever defence capabilities are discussed, costs are both high and almost impossible to track down so there are no hard and fast rules, however, the basic principle is that if we want to increase capabilities over the medium terms there is not a huge pot of cash from which to dip in, so be modest.

If you want to trade existing capabilities off against new ones then fair enough, robbing Peter to pay Paul is within the rules. Depending on how it is counted, the current bill is in the order of three to four hundred million pounds per year.

Using non MoD funding for dual use capabilities could be an interesting avenue to explore.


There is a balancing act between improving military capabilities and inflaming the political situation but it should also be noted that playground rules are sometime the most effective. Big statements can be effective but might not always be the best long term solution.

Mix and Match

The idea is to create a balanced force with the appropriate communications, mobility, ISTAR, logistics and combat elements, building on what is already there in some cases or from scratch.

Other ideas are permissible, moving the balance between regular and reserve, sponsored reserves or other engagement models for example.

Although any suggestion has to be balanced and sustainable you might decide to invest a greater proportion in sensor networks than machine guns, explain the rationale.

Every single nut and bolt has to be shipped or flown into the islands, too much variety adds costs.

Finally, people are always the most expensive, using capital spending to replace personnel is always worth investigating.

Dual Use

Any ideas for capabilities that have a wider utility for the Falkland islanders will get top billing.

The islands existing GSM/WIMAX network for example, could be extended and used for a network of remote sensors at vulnerable areas.

Don’t forget, the Islands have a vehicle ferry/landing craft and Islander aircraft operated by FIGAS

Should you think a hovercraft could provide both something of civilian and military use (Jed) then that would be a fair use of limited funds.



So, in your own time…



Don’t forget, this is only a bit of fun!

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
February 25, 2012 9:45 pm

interesting. a few months ago, i was laughed off this board and told i was being a right wing reactionary when i expressed alarm about the vulnerability of the FI. now it appears that many are actually looking at the issue and seeing where i am coming from.


yes i am.

February 25, 2012 11:28 pm

I’ll nip to one side of the blue touchpaper immediately above and dig in, in a mixture of suggestions and questions for those who would know (those in or out of uniform, and in or out of defence contracting work):

– Dual use is clearly an important piece of the puzzle, both for the sake of the islands’ (and Islanders’) own infrastructure with the possible ramp-up to exploratory drilling, and so we can push some of the everyday expenses down a different budget stovepipe. You’ve already thrown out a solid suggestion, boss — piggybacking GSM/WIMAX for daily-chatter tripwire sensors. ELINT is a critical element in all of this. The other is HUMINT, and with potential drilling expansion in store now is probably a good time to push development funds towards an indigenous coast guard with a volunteer sort of militia-pressing among the islanders. One part RNLI-type humanitarian ops, one part Fisheries Protection, both of which taken together represent a chance to engage a body of locals — who will thereby be tied to everyone else in the Islands with that population — in getting a full, on-record knowledge of comings and goings in the EEZ. Much cheaper to supply and run (donations of ageing Halmatics from back home? Will they stand the wave strength in those waters? And get the folks in Glasgow to knock out another Jura in fetching FI colours to replace the fisheries role of HMS Clyde. Sell her (Clyde) to Jamaica as a flagship to cover some of the costs or bring her home as a bigger, better River to troll for suspicious Icelanders. Yes, I know they’re all suspicious.) The FI’s future lies in the surrounding EEZ and that’s the Argies route of approach. Enable them sticking their beaks out in it as much as possible through non-MoD funding lines. Workship crews should undergo training so that they can work under Naval Discipline Act in an emergency and move FIDF around. The more mobile that lot are (especially the ability to port them over onto West Falkland, setting up visual OPs and sniping positions so the regulars can concentrate on East Falkland) the better. Also worth considering a civil helicopter SAR service branched off the prospective home one, not just for SAR but disaster relief in storms, civil medevac, and emergency transport of the forces.

– Streamline permanent presence in the area of operations to the “distance” services, RAF and Naval Service. Army takes on a reinforcement role. That would be salutary on three counts. One is just that, streamlining, and a suspicion that this alone will help manage some transit, accomodation, stores, etc., costs. The second is that it’s a great excuse for an annual (or even twice-yearly) opex by Spearhead to reinforce (airlanding or parachuting in) at one go. It’s a maximal test of everything from refueling and airframes to loadmasters’ logistics and squaddies endurance for sitting on their arse in a cold airframe. Probably, what, 18 hours even in a C-17 accounting for headwinds and refueling? After that, “somewhere in Africa,” Finnmark, or Oman would all be a trice. Also, since this is sovereign UK soil, its residents British citizens (even as a lefty I don’t really object to the historical nature of “subjects”), you could gear up company or battalion battlegroups of TA every year or two to head down for exercises. Not too different from keeping notional attackers out of the north Scottish coast or the Province, and a chance to practice actual, y’know, territorial defence. Great photo op for the TA and their lobby for regenerating lost capabilities (“Our Brave Volunteers in the hallowed Falklands!”) and has the effect of reducing the windows of minimal garrison size and readiness. In order to conduct those exercises, you have to mobilise and task logistical resources back home, which could be diverted to the actual reinforcement plan either coming or going.

– Big fan of James’ and x’s RAF Regiment suggestion. (Well, big fans of theirs anyway, perhaps my two favourite Tories ever other than an old friend from uni.) The garrison grows a company, one dedicated to somewhat mobile defence of MPA, and one that will be seen in purely defensive terms. Absolute no brainer.
– RIC enhancement is right idea, wrong service. Unless we’re ready for the cost and resource-devouring of a full battlegroup in the islands (could it be done with Warthogs? I realise they’re twice the weight of Vikings but what about detaching front cabs for scouting? Also how do they distribute gvw over the tracks? Restricted to the roadways — in which case, could we design deployment plans to “screen out” the firing distance of James’ SF teams with ATGWs by putting remaining minefields between Bluefor and Redfor?) If not, and I’m not especially though there are ways to do it, then better to fit the terrain, climate, and general dampness of the islands’ frontiers (also known as beaches :) to the RM. If we can get the corps back onto ‘phibs as EMFs and back onto ships as Fleet Protection, rather than tramping around the Stan like line infantry, they should be able to do quite a bit of “special forces support” as they are. (I respect the skills nad operational role of SF, but dislike this language that makes commando units sound like their batmen.) So, take the company-sized RM element from SFSG and beef it up a bit. Commando 21 coys are undermanned as it is unless you throw all four in at once — take a rifle coy and add “maneouvre support” weapons elements (special eye to snipers and mortars for fixing opponents), probably an extra clerk and signalman or two, up to about 140-150 bods. Commanded by a major so he can talk on level terms to most of the MPA mafia and RN staffers. In other words something much more substantial than LP 8901 was in ’82. And Vikings galore, shuffled back from Afghanistan and cost-accounted somewhere in the wilds of fleet management. There’s your islands QRF/SF-hunting force while the Fighting Ray-Bans maintain the MPA standoff zone.
– I suspect there are some real opportunities to “capability plus” either the intelligence gathering (Mk.1 Eyeball) or combat support of the minesweeping command. But though my own dear granddad was a sapper I don’t have too many original ideas on that score. Would love to hear them, though, including repurposing mines or mine-clearance equipment as defensive barriers at key points.

As for the rest, it really boils down to the fact that these Really Are Islands You Know and creating a bit of strategic distance for the Argentines to face would be a Good Idea. And that creation of strategic distance lies alternately with the RAF and the RN. So:

– As part of a push to bloody well make the RAF eat its teaspoon of cod liver and like it by purchasing 160 Typhoons and keeping them in service, there’s a chance to expand Falklands air defence. In another thread I suggest that most other air forces would be ludicrously happy with a ratio of 6×12 active squadrons (72) for QRA, 2×12 (24) for OCU/OEU, and 48 spares. This leaves 16 aircraft left over. Considering that 1) this is sovereign UK soil over which a bloody war was fought only a generation ago and 2) it’s Britain’s strategic gateway to an entire region of the world (South Atlantic/Antarctic) at the south end of a global region (Atlantic pole-to-pole plus Mediterranean) where the UK would be well advised to concentrate its power projection (plus East Africa & Oman) it is worth making a meaningful QRA contribution down south, since 1435 Flight is really the most in-danger QRA force on the payroll.
– So, double the RAF fast jet presence. Two flights of four, with the ability to send in a third flight on short notice. (So that’s 4×4 flights of aircraft, shifting one set every so often and resting one as spares that could regenerate with emergency pilots — instructors, extras from other squadrons, in desperation the newly passed-out of training — for a full sixteen if need be.) Eight Typhoons in the islands all FGR-cleared. In honour of the service they represent I’d nickname the second flight “Bravado,” “Tiny Roadsters,” “Low Altitude,” and “Handlebar Moustaches.” Move the air patrol from four to eight — a doubling, yes, but with those low numbers not a grotesque increase. Massively increases AR’s air-superiority issues, however. Greatly increases the odds their will be aircraft up and ready when you try to neutralise MPA, and that you can take the risk of scrambling jets near the runway (thanks to RAF Regt. cover) even under fire to get them up. Odds of swift and relatively bloodless neutralisation way down. This also provides proper air cover for
– The Flaklands Guard Ship. Again, since this is Britain’s one truly militarised frontier (except the slow-burn insanity of the Cyprus SBAs) there is much more casue for a warship here than WINDIES or even Armilla (where the most directly and persistently effective RN contingent is the MCM flotilla.) So the Falklands posting goes to a Type 23, which already has Merlin and Harpoon integrated unlike their big sisters the Darings. Also, one with Sonar 2087 installed (even if this means, according to one of our other posters, risking new gyms on shipboard across the fleet, the real point of T23s vice patrol vessels is that they’re world-league GP frigates plus their actually world-beating ASW set.) You have a solid GP warship, able to play chicken with the ARA, and specifically equipped to help keep tabs on SSK movements. (I’ve also wondered about the ARA using them to ‘spoof’ the regional SSN with cat-and-mouse engagement, assuming restrictive Bluefor ROE until there’s substantial shooting on the islands, in order to screen landing forces.)
– APT(S), which is of course a separate mission, should be given over at all times, anyway and as a matter of course, to an SSN. Destroyers look pretty in the tabloids, but if you want actual power projection into the region (not just the South Atlantic but the west coast of Africa and, if need be, the northern littoral of S. America up Venezuela way) then you send an SSN with a decent quiver of Tomahawks. Serves a lot more purposes than just Falklands deterrence and you don’t leave B.A. guessing — they just know already that this must be risked or overcome.

Look forward to everyone else playing Fantasy Garrisons (TM).

February 25, 2012 11:34 pm

“Flaklands,” hmm … sometimes a Freudian slip is not just a cigar.

February 26, 2012 12:08 am

why hasn’t anyone stated the obvious? the UK (and the US) needs to get out Afghanistan so that real deal commitments can be met!

once that is done you have the forces necessary to EASILY defend these islands. but that must be done first or all you’re really talking about is at best a holding action and at worst an effort to reclaim the islands.

time for us all to get our heads together and end that nonsense. once that is done you have an extremely strong cadre of combat trained Marines and soldiers on which to build your defense however you see fit.

February 26, 2012 12:15 am


Myself I take that as read (getting out of Afghanistan.) Others may not (although a pretty strong party here do) and we’ve had some good debates on that round here. But in slightly less strenuous terms that’s exactly right. Elective land wars in Asia (and, while a punitive expedition after 9/11 was right and necessary, the long-game COIN approach over the following decade was absolutely elective) are just not a good idea.

February 26, 2012 12:17 am

A side note on Type 23 as guardship: CAMM* will come into service, it seems, close to an on-time delivery. The increased range of engagement, ability to update from varied radar inputs, and potentially greater numbers loaded aboard should, together with ‘Phoons above, allow T23 to overcome its Achilles heel (deadly vulnerable to saturation attacks) and do a creditable job on self defence if 2-3 Argentine jets tried to USS Stark her at the start of an engagement.

* I refuse to use the new type designation. Because it’s just sad. Like, “the guy in Marketing who can never pull even on ladies’ night down the local came up with this” sad.

February 26, 2012 12:53 am

Sol, I have no doubt that once all (allied) troops have been withdrawn from A’Stan, they will be mothballed due to the accompanying ‘peace dividend’ round (“Hey we’re out, let’s save some money” / “It’s the economy, stupid”-lot) so any ‘liberated’ assets will be unavailble for Real World missions – no matter how badly they are needed for said missions…

An Argie invasion force might be preceded by commando raids using Hercs or civilian aircraft (and perhaps a few civilian ships to maintain the element of surprise) to conduct strikes against certain strategic C3 sites. Also, fishing trawlers can be easily configured to lay mines, and just the rumor of sea mines will hamper any RN task force’s freedom of movement.

Playing Red Team here, a lot has changed since the 1980’s. Commercial Sat recce is available for Argentina, as is considerable GEO/HUMINT from the Falklands itself. Argentina knows about the elaborate defensive sites and it will avoid having to charge those with its equivalent Light Brigades. Still, eventually any impenetrable fortress has a weak spot, and we can safely assume that most of the UK’s main island installations have been under close observation for some time.

But bottom line we have to keep in mind what Argentina’s objective would be; the islands themselves or the surrounding offshore oil/gas fields. Capturing the latter may not even require an island invasion force.

February 26, 2012 1:46 am

Last I checked, the Args only have one Type 209, and two Santa Cruzs in terms of SSKs. Not much of a threat as the Santa Cruzs are barely operable, and only the 209 is capable of ops. Also, this argument over whether the Args can take the Falklands is moot until the Args develop a serious amphibious capability which they do not have.

February 26, 2012 2:11 am


No you have not been vindicated, see the other Falklands thread for the ongoing… debate.

What you, wf and James have postulated are extreme end scenarios requiring mass incompetence, extreme luck and enough coincidences to make you Las Vegas’s worst enemy if it happened there. Read the main article to see that this section is here only just because a one in a million “what if” scenario may happen.

TD, I’d put the budget not as the MoD’s 200-300M one but the FLDF’s budget which I estimate is around 500m pounds annual. In a case like this, if you need X piece of equipment in a week or less etc, you’re already screwed, you simply won’t have the budget for it. For low budget areas, what you need to do is a slow ramp up of capabilities, for example, 200 rifles per year over 10 years (~200k per year) to build up to a stock of 2000 rifles, not a single 10m pound buy.

Possible areas of improvement? Maybe a UAV section folded in with SAR. A pair of thermo-birds would help a lot in search and rescue and can double duty in times of war and to frustrate Jame’s SF marauders. In fact, since it’s under SAR orbat, any check of military assets might just miss it, giving a small ace in the hole, though it will require luck, not something you should count on.

Pure military side, maybe a small buy of one or two GMG/HMGs annually over 10 years for fitting on landrovers might be good, maybe some bulletproofing for them and runflat tires if the budget can be stretched that far.

One good buy might be 80 or so paintball rifles for “real life” training, budget allowing. It would allow platoon vs platoon level “live” training which would be very helpful in battlefield acclimatization, like feeling how it’s like to be pinned under fire, fast movement to avoid being hit etc.

February 26, 2012 3:18 am

Hovercraft :-)

February 26, 2012 3:22 am

Oh, and 4 to 6 Viking Mk II with SRAM 120mm mortars with precision ammo – would not cost much but ruin a landing forces, or raiding parties day……

February 26, 2012 4:03 am

I would like to see typhoons capable of actually dropping bombs as well as some form of anti ship missile. Also a few batteries of mlrs possibley armed with atacums and a few cvr(t)s. We have almost all of this kit available and surplus. Not sure why we can store some of our armoured forces and artillery at mpa. We could even train the FIDF in its use.

February 26, 2012 5:24 am

*Smacks forehead* did I leave hovercraft out of that lot earlier? Really didn’t mean to. Lends tactical and cross-island mobility (I still have a gut feeling West Falkland is a territory worth keeping a better naked-eye view of.) Because frankly I like the idea of Griffons mounted with twin SRAM pintles as well. Talk about a “coastal defence ship” in the literal sense, that bar steward will follow you up on the beach like a soap bubble in “The Prisoner” ….

Absolutely have to get the Tiffs FGR capable. At the moment the RAF remains in the stages of grief when it comes to buckling down and properly developing its capability (vs. waiting for Godot, er, Dave-C.) But I have hopes, more than suspicions, that the onrushing Afghanistan wind-down may change that.


This is one of the reasons why (islands or oil?), in the other thread, that I suggested a discrete attack on West Falkland, with a “combined arms” approach of joint military/civilian “activist” landings by air and sea (civilians give the uniforms cover, uniforms give civvies armed protection against eviction) daring Bluefor to overreact. Lets you splice the EEZ if regional neighbours (up to US) and UN decide “maybe this is a mess the two sides can learn to live with and quit barracking about it.”

February 26, 2012 5:28 am

Marcase also,

Thanks for the reminder about minelaying trawlers. Another reason for both a more extensive civilian fisheries protection/SAR service for plainclothes intel, and a proper warship to deter or engage such targets.

February 26, 2012 6:16 am

I’m not sure if hovers are the best way to go, they’re notoriously maintainance intensive and any damage is going to be hard to repair due to parts rarity.

All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
February 26, 2012 6:58 am

On a side note, the FI govt has offered to pay a share of the costs of defending the Islands.

February 26, 2012 7:17 am

Hi Observer,

PP. 12-14 in this http://www.foils.org/01_Mtg_Pres%20dnloads/ACV%20Devels%20Brian%20ForstellCDI050609/ACV%20Developments%20to%20SNAME-IHS%209Jun05.ppt will give you answers both to
– “notoriously maintainance intensive”
– and any (battle) damage, ie. survivability

The further generation derivation of the battle hardened LCAC (only built in prototype, that one)carried RBS15s on the sides and VLS SAMs in the middle
– also built in prototype only, but this was due to primary mission statement being changed from anti-invasion duties “in a coastal enviroment with rough archipelago and rigged coastline and shallow passageways” – if that rings a bell – to securing seaLOCs

February 26, 2012 7:41 am

I would suggest that defence of FI should be focused on the various degrees of increasing interference from Argentina not just the end game – invasion.

I would suggest the following:

* Another Clyde to guard the Oil rigs and to intercept / search suspicious merchant vessels.
* Permanent basing of a few ASW Merlins / Lynxs to provide additional anti sub / surface capability. Perhaps as part of a training facility?
* UAV surveillance.
* Upgraded Typhoons with sea attack capability – we really could do with this generally.
* Lastly, in true British style, an inflatable SSN to bring out when things are looking hot.

Last thing we need is more defence ground troops in my opinion. Any future FI conflict is likely to be fought in (plus above / below) the seas that surround them.

February 26, 2012 8:37 am

Slightly humbled to be named as one of Jackstaff’s favourite Tories…, now, if only we had a proper Tory Government instead of the current lily-livered lot, but that’s a different website…. ;)

Two thoughts occur to me, unrelated:

If the oil and gas thing is real (there seem to be conflicting reports), then the military task of defending the Falklands, assuming a credible and enduring threat, gets more difficult and more air/maritime focussed on a long term basis. I googled a few maps of the oil prospecting areas, and they seem to be 100 miles offshore to the north, east and south of East Falkland. If we get to a stage in 10 years where there are rigs and production out there, then we are going to need another Clyde-type asset to keep an eye on them. The AO just got a lot bigger.

Second, and initially more diplomatically difficult, is to present to the world the FI as one of our major training bases, akin to BATUS, but a fully joint asset. Put in the RAF Regiment to form the nucleus of a defensive Battlegroup along with some helos, FIDF and FGR Typhoons, but in addition Infantry BGs deploy for 6 weeks of training 6 times a year. We might even have a season long OPFOR down there. BATUS in the SA. This is probably more cost than TD envisioned in his opening remarks, but we need to train somewhere and there should be some compensating reductions, it keeps the AT fleet and our power projection capability well-oiled, and once established as routine, it is fairly innocuous on the global stage. It should also bring in a reasonable amount of money and employment for the FI.

Incremental spending: a troop of GMLRS at MPA, and a flight of 4 x AH-64 at Stanley, with a dual role of being part of the training setup and part of the defensive posture.

And a UAV/airship development and training centre on West Falkland, getting around UK flight restrictions.

February 26, 2012 8:43 am

On the bright side, if there IS oil there, paying for new equipment is going to be fairly easy.

APATS, think the FLDF budget from their own coffers is about 500k pounds annually thereabouts. All the equipment that people casually discuss here are totally out of their budget range save for the UAVs.

February 26, 2012 8:48 am

….offer to the USA the use of our training base in the FI for USMC / Carrier BG training when we are not using it, maybe even some joint exercises? Ties them into us diplomatically.

February 26, 2012 9:02 am


If they accepted, my opinion of US intelligence is going to go way down.

After all, what is really being offered is the chance to stand between two people about to go at each other, hammers and tongs. On the other hand, historically, America seems to love that position. Deep racial S&M psyche? :P

I looked through your presentation. I’ll take “maintainance intensive” as a yes. ~450 hours before skirt replacement??!! Once every ~20 days? Can you imagine having to change your tyres once a month?? And your bank account is going to bleed!

February 26, 2012 9:23 am

About hovercraft, when not used as amphibious transports
– make the current surveillance radars dual mode (like seaGiraffe); they might well be, already(?)
– hovercraft are not like ships, moving around 24 hrs a day; they are like aircraft: doing missions
– aircraft: high speed with only a couple of hrs endurance (OK, we have the VC10 there); hovercraft 50 knots but much higher endurance
– conclusion: need both, but today only A2G (not AShM) with Typhoons. Covering the approaches to the limited facilities for non-amphib shipping with land-based RBS15s (just an example) and the gap to West Falklands (and around it) with the same on hovercraft
…just an idea (btw: the prototype is for sale, Nigeria has been rumoured to have been interested to counter the hit-and-run attacks on oil installations in their Niger Delta)

February 26, 2012 9:28 am

Sorry, still not sold on the need for a high maintainance hovercraft that needs to pull into a shop for a total skirt replacement every 20 days. That’s a cash bleeder. You want persistant surveillance, get a USV.

February 26, 2012 9:36 am

Plan B, deterrence.

As was mentioned in the previous thread, move one the the RAF Regiment squadrons to MPA on a permanent basis. On a six month tour it would be three years before the same squadron returned. Get them back to their main role airfield defence, with responsibility for the area around the airfield.
Increase the Typhoon numbers by a minimum of two to six. So with downtime and maintenance there should always by four readily available.

The RIC is fine but I would also sent a reconnaissance squadron (CVRT) with a ATGW troop attached for six month tours. One from sixteen squadrons, gives plenty time between deployments. The nature of the landscape gives them an ideal theater for training. To support the infantry and cavalry, they need at least a troop of 105mm guns. This could be a FI force (same as the Gibraltar Regiment) which would reduce the pressure on the regular army’s pitiful resources.
An Army Air Corps flight of four Apaches should also be deployed. As with the CVRT Squadron an ideal training area. Also with hellfire gives us some anti-shipping capability.

Here is where we fall down, there are just not enough hulls at present. Any increase would cost a significant amount. But we could change the RAF Sea Kings (which are near end of service anyway) to navy Merlins, for SAR but with an added ASW capability.

Finally can anyone remember the Reforger exercises of the 1970/80’s? I can remember watching the 82nd Airborne jumping into Germany after flying from Fort Bragg. The planes flew over the major cities on route, a grand show of force by the US. Well I would do the same with one of the Multi Role Brigades every three years. We hear loads of talk of how we would reinforce the FI if there was any threat. Well lest see them do it. The ability of the RAF to transport the heavy equipment is doubtful, but we can pre-position vehicles if not on the FI then close by. Better then parking them in Germany as there is no space in the UK (did not think we were that overcrowded). How long does it take to sail there from St Helena? This ability seriously needs to be practiced. It would also be experience for any other war/dispute we get involved in, some time in the future.

Cost wise only the reforger type deployment, and the six month turnarounds would increase spending. The training opportunity’s of the FI should be exploited more then at present.

February 26, 2012 9:52 am

Now that my beautiful plan was shot down by penny-pinching Observer… will have to go budget-model

RE ” Also with hellfire gives us some anti-shipping capability.

Here is where we fall down, there are just not enough hulls at present. Any increase would cost a significant amount. But we could change the RAF Sea Kings (which are near end of service anyway) to navy Merlins, for SAR but with an added ASW capability.”

As every Merlin with ASW kit on it gets its price tag about doubled, I would stop at the Apaches (we have plenty) and Hellfires.
– the budget & combined solution to the lack of hulls and rapid anti-invasion reaction would be a local fleet of some CB90s. Put Hellfires on them (a la Norway) to deal with ships and whatever “connectors” are being used for landing and AMOS (a la Sweden) on some, to deal with the already landed elements…cheap and cheerful?

As has been pointed out on some previous threads, it is not the lack of forces that would be suitable for the op but the lack of amphibious capacity that is the effective constraint(so the invasion to be countered outside preknown locations would not be large scale, but either an initial or supporting act)

February 26, 2012 9:57 am

Agreed but I was thinking more of those two SSKs landing the unbeatable SF’s. Gives any sub commander something else to think about being caught in shallow waters with ASW helos available.

February 26, 2012 10:06 am

Plan A:-

– raise the issue of AR claiming South Georgia, South Sandwich Islands and a rather over-large slice of Antartica with the UN as a colonial issue. Use the latter as a lever to prise Chile away from Argentina

– talk loudly about the issue of self determination to neutralise the self hating Left at home and “against the Brits always” crowd abroad

Plan B:-

– mention as an aside that the Argentinian mainland cannot be considered as a safe haven as it was 30 years ago. Mention Operation Algeciras when mad bint starts frothing at the mouth. Wait

– Integrate Storm Shadow on Typhoon, and deploy some to MPA without fuss a few months later

Plan C:-

Bearing in mind the need for simplicity, not loads of different types:-

– increase Typhoon numbers to 8 (10 with spares), equipping them with an off the shelf anti-ship missile like the Norwegian NSM and Brimstone for landing craft. This should allow a QRA of two, with another pair available for short notice use for air to ground. Cost minimal since we’re not likely to buy more

– deploy a troop of MLRS, both with GMLRS and the submunitions for the “oh shit” moments when the hordes are on the beach or gate. Cost minimal

– put in some C-RAM on MPA for last ditch defence and to negate those pesky ATGW and mortars. Cost around 30m

– build a berm around the base fence of MPA to screen what we can from direct fire (MPA is higher than the surrounds to the south: I wish I had an OS map). Cost 1m?

– increase the garrison to a battalion. Use the FI to trial a “medium” formation, partly mounted in Spartan/Scimitar. With one company tagged for local defence of MPA, one doing patrols and training, and one for QRF. Cost minmal since we already have spares

– mine Mare with remotely controlled sea mines to deny it’s use if necessary. Cost 10m

– install a Jindalee over the horizon radar system for long range warning at reasonable cost to the west. Cost 100m

– fit C17’s with probes to allow for extended trips down south. We should have done this already :-(

– buy another Clyde, but withdraw the guard ship. A T45 or T23 have many qualities, but given that the high end threats they would be useful for are all likely to be found around MPA, having them hang around MPA is a bit pointless and makes them vulnerable. Cost: neutral overall

– rationalise the RAF contingent at MPA by withdrawing the VC10 and replacing with a second C130 with AAR gear.

Plan D:-

– cancel F35C order, but F18E/F off the shelf instead. Accelerate CVF so that IOC with QE is achieved in 2015

– stand up 12 F/A-2’s from those stored. Form a reserve group of aviators capable of flying them, and have them exercise from Illustrious to cover the gap until 2015. We could add this to deterrence….Cost 100m

– in 2015, hold a no notice Purple Warrior. Announce a major amphibious exercise on the E coast of the US, sail off CVF and the majority of the amphibs with escort, then break the news at sea and have them sail south. Once the news breaks, deploy spearhead and additional Typhoon’s as per reinforcement plan. Using in place forces as red, conduct a series nearly simultaneous live TLAM strikes on Onion range, launch an AVBG from St Helena on MPA, amphibious landing at Teal. Conduct a public FIBUA exercise in Stanley with the FIDF. Tea and cakes all round, job done for the next decade of deterrence

February 26, 2012 10:44 am

‘Defence of the Falklands’ is never going to win a budget arguement.
At the end of the day, we need a reason to spend a billion pounds a year, sheep, self determination and drakes passage are not them.

I can see three grouped reasons.

Nato lacks a large scale littoral training ground.
West falkland is a maze of islets, channels, coves. If we worried about fighting on it, why not try and make it natos ‘forced entry amphibious assault’ warfare centre?
Politicaly, attacking it becomes an attack on Nato, maybe even militarily if that new big radar is based on top of the usmc flag officers quarters.

If thats not a goer.
Europe lacks a large scale training ground, we do things like laser guidance certification in the US or Canada.
As far as I’m aware, theres just no where in europe to practice with longer ranged equipment or grand scale exercises.
An armoured division scale advance with artilery, naval and air support could be squeezed onto the west islands.
The terrain in punishing, but with modular armour, an ‘all in’ 70t chally 3 could be stripped down to 40t as an adjuster.

And if thats not a goer, suggestion three

The UKs initial training, ocu, ect.
The army recruits about 1000 people a month and puts them through a 4 month training program.
If we moved all of the initial rifleman training out there, we’d have 3000 trainees on the islands along with training staff.
Most poorly trained, but enough to sit in a trench and return fire?
Add in the cooks, clerks, and instructors.
But why just the army infantry?
Why not move trainee tankies down, and formation rec, and apache, and lynx, and typhoon.
We have a 36 typhoon ocu, does it cost more to relocate that force to the falklands, or run 4 just as a security force?
Two point class ships to handle lugging everything down is really the only additional expense, maybe away from home costs for trainers, but suddenly the falklands have an in training mrb and a three multi role fighter squadrons.

February 26, 2012 11:30 am

@ ACC re RAF RPs sea surveillance

I have wondered about that too. The fancy systems that give OTH are expensive. Obviously The closer to the sea the smaller the horizon. seaGiraffe only “sees” out to the horizon, but is a very good system. As I have said the sea is the key to this. I still question Typhoons; it cancels out the air threat yet, but doesn’t seem to do much to help things on the “surface”.

I still think Stanley is the key. Still think the FIDF need some proper vehicles to work out of. We mustn’t be fooled by pictures of Stanley just because it shows a village on a small headland. Time will be of the essence. Mobility is a force multiplier. A couple of 4 tonners and Land Rovers and quads doesn’t seem adequate to me. I think they need Javelin. I know this might be another of X’s odd takes but when I read about April 2 82 it is the ships out in the harbour seemingly invulnerable that make me shudder; “They are coming.” Perhaps it is just me but I would rather they be dealt with at sea than them be fought from a slit trench on Stanley front. There would be precious little the Argentines could do. They would have just to sit there as 18.5lb HE comes in through the ships side. This will be anathema to James but I am bit fond of fortifications. So as I have said before I would have the RE prepare (concreted) hull down positions for the FIDF’s Vikings/Bulldogs/whatever at key points. If the balloon appears to be going up all they will have to is muster, jump in the wagon, drive to the prepared position, get a brew on, and wait.

Further to Observer’s militia idea it does appear that the FI, like the Isle of Man, Channel Islands, and Gib’ has different firearm laws to the UK. Shooting seems popular. It does appear they are treated as adults and can hold handguns too. How much of a crossover there is between the membership of the shooting clubs and FIDF I don’t know. Perhaps there is some scope for shooting clubs members who aren’t FIDF to get some training to help out in extremis. Not sure if the garrison commander would think it is a good idea.

I have concerns about things maritime too.

All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
February 26, 2012 11:42 am

Hold on guys, we seem to be going from defence on a shoe string to dominating the local battle space/ On a shoes string Plan D, take the 4 AHR 2 Griffins from Cyprus and replace with Night SAR capable units as is proposed . They have NVG and a radar for limited mar surv. can carry 6 or 8 troops. Mount unguided rocket pylons or a machine gun like in Vietnam.
1 Squadron RAF reg to take over security duties and free up the RIC for more mobile duties.
Command control mines for enterance to ECMP and Stanley, deny a conventional offload capability.
Cut teh roofs of some of the hubdred of landies down there and get a welding torch and HMG or various other odds and sods to make some FI technicals.
Invest in 3 or 4 armoured radio controlled traing rhibs to use as bomb ships.
Cheap and cheerful and not very conventional but increases the punch against an invasion.

February 26, 2012 11:54 am

I do think the NATO/Training ground idea is really worth trying for, followed by incremental upgrades of the FIDF. Same with transfering in existing equipment.

I disagree in the purchases of new equipment as the 200M+ budget set by TD cannot handle too many UOR purchases without going over. In real life, armies get small batches of equipment and accumulate to basic capability, not everything in one fell swoop. It makes the budget flow much smoother instead of sudden “over the budget” cost spikes.

February 26, 2012 11:55 am

Cant help thinking:-

RAF regiment idea a good one deploy one battalion for Airfield defence.

Freeing other forces for general defence

Plus CVRT Squadron
Some 105’s (Not many)
Beef up Falknads defence force.
Above all else how about keeping some tranche 1 Typhoons as based there when they go, 8 there 8 back in UK ready to fly out.

None of that should break the bank, and would so up the anti.

Also like the idea of regular annual medium scale para and Marine exercises with supporting naval units.

February 26, 2012 12:28 pm

First replace vc-10 and herc with a400m equipped for aar. As part of there wider uk service entry 2 cn-295 with the us coast guard configuration are moved in. These could be part funded by FI gov as they conduct SAR, fisheries protection and environmental protection.
The south American area and west Africa can be vulnerable to natural disasters. As part of a wider rejigg of uk internal aid the Falklands is designated as a fwd uk base for disaster response to the UN disasters emergency committee. Additional supplies can be carried by the rfa in area with the a400m or cn-295 avaiable for tasking also form an initial small international rescue team in the Falklands. The army company replaced with raf reg unit and a sqn of Viking vehicles if the argies land we’ve had 2 major failures already. One in not spotting the build up and two letting them land without interdiction. Typhoons remain as is. Little point fitting an anti ship missile what are we going to shoot them at. If as suggested the argies are using civi vessels to move troops I can see the headlines now if we shoot one off and actually hit a civil vessel. Paveway brimstone will do fine. Send 4 hover craft and 4 cv90 boats down with a FPG RM unit especially if oil infrastructure reguires protection.

Final conduct regular rc-135 flights in the area and move the support assets to support that. Finally 2 merlin mk3a a/c in the long range SAR role and can support the disaster response force.

February 26, 2012 2:29 pm


yes i am.”

Hardly, you just fell more easily and more early than others to the threat fantasy that’s now being hyped (again) in order to fend off Royal Navy budget cuts with fearmongering.

February 26, 2012 2:47 pm

Hovercraft !!!

February 26, 2012 2:51 pm

No seriously though, why do you all want to spend so much money and turn the islands into fortress Falklands ?

We certainly don’t need to turn the Islands into a SA version of BATUS – for a start that pushes up the political tension ten more notches.

All we need is the bare minimum to deter the potential threat – some hovercraft, the Griffon’s from Cyprus was a good idea. Some BVS10 MkII with a .50 cal in a good RWS is probably good enough (rather than very old CVR(T)’s).

Observer: “I’m not sure if hovers are the best way to go, they’re notoriously maintainance intensive and any damage is going to be hard to repair due to parts rarity” – seriously ? How very 1950’s…..

Modern diesel powered HC as produced by Griffon Hoverwork are far less maintenance intensive than any helicopter, although they probably do need more than an armoured vehicle for example.

All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
February 26, 2012 2:56 pm

Jed, The Griffins I talk about transferring are 4 helicopters, upgraded Huey variants.

February 26, 2012 4:00 pm

The link posted by ACC quoted a “time to replacement” of the rubber skirts of 440 hours. That’s once every 20 days if it has to go patrolling.

I agree that the direction of the proposed defences seem to be going towards the overkill side. With extreme emphasis on overkill. Now the question is would the mythical Argentinian SF be killed 1st, or the MoD budget? My bet is on the budget.

All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
February 26, 2012 4:07 pm

Observer, whilst some people have stretched the idea a bit far, lots of the proposals merely reallocate and move equipment around. How much does it cost to replace the rubber skirts, are old ones then refurbished? if running a hover craft was that expensive nobody would have them and they would not patrol 24 7. Not that I have suggested them just think you have grabbed one fact like a dog with a bone.

February 26, 2012 4:23 pm

Think the best suggestions I’ve seen so far are the NATO/US training ground solution, which gives free diplomatic deterence and physical troop size increase without extra cost.

Against new vehicle type introductions, new vehicles tend to cost a lot and while most likely extremely effective, it’s also extremely overkillish.

Opinion wise, I still think that the best course would be the training ground option combined with a gradual increase of the FIDF capabilities. A conversion of 3-4 landrovers per year with bulletproofing, runflat tires and a pintle mount for a GMG/HMG/Spike ER (I know the UK uses Javelin, but Spikes are cheaper per missile) over a period of 10 years would give them a fairly solid rapid reaction force with decent firepower and trooplift within budget. (My proposed “squad” would be similar to a fireteam organization, 2 HMG, 1 GMG, 1 Spike, but 1/1/1 is also possible).

A pair of thermo-equiped UAVs buried under SAR would also be something worth considering. SAR for normal days, SF spotter during times of war.

No expensive new vehicle buy except for the UAVs which can be cost shared with SAR, upgrade of preexisting equipment, not too much overkill for the situation and since it’s upgrading, might go below the arms race radar.

February 26, 2012 4:29 pm


From observations of SAR ops here, hovercraft are kept in long term standby to reduce wear and tear, and are only deployed when huge, fast lift is needed, like SAR on passenger liners with lots of people. Most of the time, you just see them sitting in their docking bay gathering dust instead of patrolling. Still got to have them though. Just in case…

From the report ACC posted, it seems that the skirts get overstressed and tear through the middle, don’t think they can be refurbished. :(

Can you melt and reform rubber? Can’t recall, but my guess is no.

February 26, 2012 4:31 pm

Jackstaff – shocked i am not on that list! ;)

re the matter at hand.

if ever there is a purpse for the rock apes it is raf mt pleasant, why the hell isn’t it their show?

bvs10 mk2

griffin 8100td with ramp

three rivers as a falklands fisheries vessels, new clydes to replace.

February 26, 2012 4:49 pm

Anyone know if there are any plans for a comprehensive survey of the potential oil sites in the Falklands? If they really do find oil, the threat possibility is going to go up a fair bit.

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 26, 2012 5:01 pm

I don’t see much of a need for increasing our day-to-day presence; the Islands’ defence can be beefed up as and when required. The A400 sounds quite sensible though, and put the RAF Regiment into the roulement plan.
If I can see any deficiencies, then the lack of a fast-jet launched anti-ship missile -air launched Harpoon perhaps (I don’t know if FASGW is meant to deliver something in the Harpoon/SeaEagle class?), and the lack of an MPA to send down if the threat were to increase; but these are gaps in the UK’s arsenal generally, rather than costs specific to the FI’s defence.

All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
February 26, 2012 5:02 pm

Observer, they are drilling offshore in several locations, I do not know about onshore oil although even without being a geologist the rocks look very shale like.

February 26, 2012 5:10 pm

One point that I did not see raised in this or the previous thread (apologies if I missed it!) was the actions that Argentina might take to interfere with British sovereignty over the Falkland short of an all-out invasion. Obviously, any defense plan for the South Atlantic needs to be prepared for the absolute worst-case scenario, but a sensible integrated plan for political, deterrence, and defense of the Falkland perhaps ought to consider the ways that Argentina could pressure Britain while also driving up security costs (as noted by many, an especially important consideration in the current economic environment).

Persistent, low-end harassment of commercial shipping in the area (similar to the activities of the Sea Shepherds or the Chinese coast guard in the SCS – cutting cables, fouling screws, and creating a general nuisance) or larger maritime protests (a la Gaza Flotilla) could provide opportunities to embarrass Britain diplomatically and tax existing high-end security forces in dealing with such low-level threats. Argentina could also pursue more provocative actions, such as intentionally causing a major oil leak in the vicinity of the Falkland, sinking a large hulk at the entrance to Port William to block the channel, covertly mining approaches to the Islands (even one or two mines could cause a major mine-hunting headache), or other inflammatory acts.

None of these actions would grant Argentina control of the Falkland, but they could allow the Argentine government to score political points at home while attempting to remain below the threshold of even a limited war with Britain. They could also drive up the costs to Britain of defending the Islands’ sovereignty. How might existing or future defense arrangements be structured to deal with these sorts of short-of-full-war contingencies?

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 26, 2012 5:22 pm

If viable oil was found, then -with a nod towards a couple of comments above- perhaps a new three ship class of corvettes might be worthwhile to protect offshore facilities and to meet a higher perception of the threat.

Three corvettes might provide a more suitable package than the current patrol vessel and high-end escort pairing; more capably armed than the Clyde, and less provocative than a type 45 – and stops tying up one of our rare frigates or destroyers on a permanent basis.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 26, 2012 5:30 pm
Brian Black
Brian Black
February 26, 2012 5:38 pm

Hi, Adun. Argentina mining the area was also mentioned by someone else; rather than being short-of-full-war, laying sea mines would indeed be an act of war. We’d be quite entitled to shove a SeaSkua up the ass of any skipper found doing it, whether he was doing it from a navy vessel or a trawler.

I don’t think they would try such a thing on its own though; sinking a Spanish fishing boat, let alone a civilian cruise ship, would be a disaster for Argentina and they would immediately find themselves in a very lonely diplomatic as well as military position.

February 26, 2012 5:39 pm

lol That’s GJ for you, a link for every occasion. :)

Anyone have any hard numbers on how far a hovercraft can usually go before needing maintainance? If what people are claiming is true, then the 440 hrs to failure quoted on ACC’s link is seriously off.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 26, 2012 5:39 pm
All Politicians are the same
All Politicians are the same
February 26, 2012 5:46 pm

@ B Black The 3 F200 corvettes built by BAE for Brunei are laid up in Barrow, Brunei trying to sell them for 200 million a pop I believe. I thought Visby but maybe not for S Atlantic, the Brunei Corvettes are more traditional, have a flight deck that could land wild cat but no hangar, exocet, sea wolf and a 76MM gun. TD this wa sin answer to defending oil platforms and not a shoe string suggestion.

February 26, 2012 5:49 pm

“Argentina mining the area was also mentioned by someone else; rather than being short-of-full-war, laying sea mines would indeed be an act of war. We’d be quite entitled to shove a SeaSkua up the ass of any skipper found doing it, whether he was doing it from a navy vessel or a trawler.”

So true. And the international community frowns on random mining in general. No idea whose ship will run afoul of one, so it’ll be seen as an act of random malice.

The more I think about it, the more I suspect you don’t need a sensor line on the islands, you need a sensor net in the seas around the islands. Looks like UAV/USVs are going to plsy s big part in the defences if someone strikes oil.

February 26, 2012 5:50 pm


200M a pop? Ouch. Expensive.

Ace Rimmer
February 26, 2012 6:00 pm

Given the current lack of Maritime Patrol aircraft, I’d lease several P-3C Orions off the U.S for sole use in the FI.

A civvy company could be responsible for maintenance and spares delivery, whilst being crewed by the military. The USN are currently re-winging some of their Orions to extend the service life, so its not like they’re short on airframe hours. I believe we did something similar when we acquired a few ex-USN F-4N Phantoms and based them solely in the FI.

February 26, 2012 6:13 pm

Hi, Brian – thanks for the response! Several of the things I suggested would no doubt fall under the “act of war” category, including laying mines. I’m not terribly sold on the mining scenario – it was only one of several scenarios I suggested – but let me take a crack at defending it nonetheless.

As to actively denying mining (with Sea Skua or otherwise) – I think that the sheer volume of possible mining threats makes this a difficult proposition. Setting aside that the mines could potentially be set by submarine, actually detecting the act of deploying a mine off of a small vessel is no easy task. Acquiring the real-time surveillance capability necessary to completely shut out any sort of vessel that might deploy an Argentine mine would be an expensive undertaking for Britain – at which point (from a competitive strategies perspective) Argentina has already won. Without the ability to monitor all vessels around the Falkland at all times, it becomes very difficult to verify whether Argentina has successfully deployed a mine or not.

When it comes to the diplomatic fallout, there are a couple ways that Argentina could try to shield itself. First, if Argentina actually managed to deploy a mine covertly, then it could hide behind the attribution problem – it takes time to determine conclusively that a ship that sinks near the Falkland was actually hit by a mine and that the mine was actually an Argentine mine. In the meantime, presumably the British government is accusing Argentina of mining the area, which Argentina will of course deny, while the RN mobilizes to begin mine hunting around the Falkland, drawing further media attention to the conflict. Without concrete proof of Argentina’s involvement, Britain might actually end up looking like an aggressive belligerent. It never ceases to amaze me the number of countries ready to chalk an incident up to “reasonable doubt.”

Alternatively, Argentina could covertly deploy a mine and then publicly announce the presence of a minefield on “their” sovereign territory, with an appropriate warning to mariners to steer clear. In fact, if they thought they could make the threat credible, Argentina might do this without even deploying real mines. As before, the RN mobilizes for mine hunting and the British government criticizes Argentina, but with no actual ship sunk, Britain might end up looking like the “bad guy” in the international eye.

Neither of those scenarios is inevitable (or even likely) – Argentina would be taking a major risk that international opinion would fall on its side rather than Britain’s. However, when it comes to the Falkland, Argentina has engaged in risky behavior in the past. Thus, I still think that any reasonable defense policy ought to treat as at least a possibility that Argentina would act in such a fashion.

Gareth Jones
Gareth Jones
February 26, 2012 6:19 pm
February 26, 2012 6:23 pm

@ Adun re conflicts less than war

I mentioned such as have several others.

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 26, 2012 7:04 pm

I’d never rule out the possibility of mines altogether, Adun. But I can only imagine that they’d be used within a bigger overall plan and with full intent of escalating to full scale conflict, such is the seriousness of the act.

I’d not heard of those corvettes before, APATS. I did find a reference to a sale dated after that the wiki article though, so don’t know if they’re still there. Quite well armed, but perhaps not built for the South Atlantic. And a Wildcat hangar plus Merlin sized flight deck would be handy too. Like you say, not exactly on a shoestring, but a worthwhile consideration for possible future circumstances.

February 26, 2012 7:55 pm

@x re conflicts less than war –

I have to admit that I’m largely ignorant as to the British military’s preparedness to deal with these sorts of lower-intensity maritime threats. When it comes to thinking about the defense of the Falkland, is it more productive to focus on preparing for high-end threats (i.e., invasion, SOF infiltration, air attack, etc.) or low-end threats?

@Brian –

If Argentina planted a mine near the Falkland and took reasonable steps to protect itself diplomatically (and perhaps even tried to pass some of the diplomatic onus back to Britain), what would Britain’s response be? I realize that mining is considered by the international community to be a very serious offense, but as far as I can tell the only credible way to actually enforce that norm is for Argentina to pay some tangible material cost if it were to employ a mine. Absent some sort of expected British retaliation, I’m not sure why Argentina would feel the need to incorporate a mine into a larger attack plan. Why not just drop a mine, cause some chaos, force the British military to react to ensure maritime security around the Falkland (at high fiscal and political cost), and just sit back and watch? If it goes well, wait a few months, then rinse and repeat. If Britain does respond more vigorously against Argentine interests, then reap the domestic “rally-round-the-flag” benefits and play the “victim” card for all it’s worth.

February 26, 2012 8:34 pm

I have some maritime concerns.

If the SSN is elsewhere, what is going to sink the enemy? I know Harpoon is a bit long in the tooth but seeing who the enemy is it is more than adequate. And that means T23 has to be deployed as APT(S) because T45 is fitted for but not worth. I don’t think SeasSkua is poor but it is comparable to a 6inch/8inch shell. This leads me onto Merlin not having an ASM. USN came back from GW1 realising they had a huge capability gap without a missile for their helicopters; something they learned from working with RN Lynxes. In the intervening years the RN brings into service the world’s best maritime helicopter and yet decide to skip the missile. Why? It seems the RN is interested in sinking or causing major damage to the ships of the enemy. Perhaps I spend too much time reading about Indian, Russian, and Chinese weaponry? Not sure there is mileage in land based truck borne missiles.

Next HMS Clyde. I think the Rivers are superb ships. I think the MoD cocked up by not opting for a flightdeck for all of them. And I understand why the UK based vessels don’t have a large gun because simply it isn’t need. But I think HMS Clyde could have had, should have had, a proper gun. I don’t see HMS Clyde engaged with Argentine navy ships if war dead break out. But in a period of heighten tension, in a “Hot Cod War” scenario a proper gun would be worth it. If my memory serves VT did have a sketch of PoS style ship with a 57mm gun (76mm?). Before I have said that SSN and missiles to one side the Argentine ships do out gun the RN ships. As we are on a shoe string I would like to see a Typhoon RWS mount with a 30mm gun. If money were no object I would replace Buque de Acción Marítima or a Thetis or a Holland. Proper gun, not just a flight deck but a hanger, and a proper sensor fit; a mini-frigate really. Being ice strengthened Thetis would be good if it came down to a bit of argy-bargy with the Argies.

I think the FIG could do with another fisheries protection vessel. I think the squid poaching issue could be as inflammatory as the oil. Further I am surprised that FIDF doesn’t have a boats section. And I mean a proper boat not the wonderful CB90; something capable of working out to say 100miles not just inshore so something about 80ft.

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 26, 2012 8:36 pm

Laying mines, Argentina would have to be prepared to lose the vessel laying the mine at the least. And being an act of war, Argentina would have to be prepared for the UK taking the bait and slamming a handful of Tomahawks into ships anchored in Puerto Belgrano. A British reaction would have to be expected, so there would have to be a larger game-plan; which I guess would -as you might have suggested- be provocation to start a fight without drawing first blood, playing the victim, and rallying domestic support. Though I’m sure the risk of blowing a hole in a cruise ship carrying hundreds of international antarctic tourists effectively rules out a naval mine scheme.

February 26, 2012 8:49 pm

I’m also curious as how would someone “protect themselves diplomatically” being caught redhanded in an act of war using a weapon that is totally at home attacking any ship that goes by, not only ships of the country it has problem with.

It’s like trying to defend yourself after being caught doing a driveby shooting at a restraunt. No matter how you spin it, it’s still mud on the face and serious enough for sanctions and embargos and a few Tomahawks.

February 26, 2012 8:50 pm

@ Adun

Asymmetric warfare is still a driver of the most innovative thinking in security today; probably more so than cyber-warfare. And the armed forces of the world have had to fight to front rooms of the world since Vietnam; the public believes what they see on TV. The Argentines can’t compete against the UK militarily. It is the size of our forces not the competency of their forces that would loose us a war. If they want to force the issue they will have to be innovative. What about a half-dozen ships filled with a few thousand ardent Argentine nationalist onboard heading for Stanley? What about a “mass trespass” by Argentine ships? A release of a cloud of weather balloon that are carrying radar-reflectors? What about the Argentines arresting FI licensed trawlers in the FI EEZ?

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 26, 2012 9:03 pm

Hi, x. The Rivers are very good light patrol vessels, but I personally think HMS Clyde’s major deficiency is the lack of a hangar rather than the lack of a gun. A ship with a Wildcat sized hangar would at least allow an embarked helicopter with Sea Skua or torpedo if tensions rose significantly, without spending an enormous sum arming the base vessel.

A 76mm gun would be nice though. As well as a Wildcat hangar, a flight deck large enough for a Merlin to support other flight ops would be nice too. Shallow draught, CAMM, decoys, couple of 30mm cannon and LMM launchers…

February 26, 2012 9:06 pm

UAVs – good testing area with limited air traffic?
Rather than have them as SAR dual use wouldnt they be rather useful for fisheries monitoring?
Is there any artillery in FI? Just a couple of 105s ready to go on concrete pads at MPA would give the SF bad guys something to think about, and pre-registered they would also take care of that brigade mooching through the channel to ECMP. Much lower profile and lower running costs than MLRS.

The best idea so far is the inflatable SSN at Mare Harbour – inflate it, leak a photo, deflate it, “no comment on SSN operations”, Armada need new pants. Very cheap. Even if they knew we had a fake – would they risk the chance that it was actually the real thing??

Two Ascension questions:
Could Tornados from Ascension lob Storm Shadow into north Argentina, in an Ellamy style?
Is Ascension protected? If the Agentinians were mad enough to go for the FI wouldnt a good plan be be to ‘hijack’ an airliner, land on Ascension and just sit there in the middle of the runway ? Just a couple of days delay in reinforcements would make a massive difference to the viability of the invasion. Might upset the Yanks a bit, but if you are playing high risk anyway…

February 26, 2012 9:11 pm

Don’t think so on the Tornados, the Vulcans already had problems ranging to the Falklands, and that’s a dedicated bomber.

Re: Hostage airliner, that is a VERY nasty thought. And one that might work.

UAVs can be used for fisheries monitoring, but you’ll need more than 2, and I was hoping to keep it under the rug. :)

February 26, 2012 9:23 pm

Buenos Aires is 1,000m north of the Falklands, 3,500 miles from Ascension. How long was the Libya mission?
An airliner allegedly full of hostages would be a PR nightmare. What do you do?

February 26, 2012 9:25 pm

@ Brian

I agree that full aviation facilities are an advantage given the geography. But a stabilised mount like Typhoon does bring a sizeable jump in performance of a “mandraulic” mount. The key word in the thread title is “shoestring” and as we can’t add a hangar I had to go for the fancy gun. As for flight deck size well the Rivers replaced the Castles which had SeaKing capable decks. The reason being the aircraft in the then new North Sea airfields were getting bigger. Why the MoD went for Rivers without flightdecks I don’t know. Even if the helicopter can’t land a flightdeck gives a large unobstructed area for winching. Bonkers.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 26, 2012 10:05 pm

Chris M, on Ascension, it is an alternate Space Shuttle landing site and last time I was there was full of pre positioned KC 135s so if Argentina want to piss of the US crack on.

February 26, 2012 10:07 pm


one difference distance to your divert airfields for inflight emergency. And covering of long flight over water.
Uavs 2 issues weather can be quite poor in the south Atlantic and satellite communications can be a bit difficult at times.

All Politicians are the Same
All Politicians are the Same
February 26, 2012 10:10 pm

On an inflatable SSN, where and when would you inflate it? There are no SSSN capable berths in the FI and Argentina has no MILSAT capability. How would they see it?

John Hartley
John Hartley
February 26, 2012 10:59 pm

I think that Voyager A330 PFI bans the RAF from using A400M for air refuelling. I think it was a lousy & expensive deal.
We have a balance of mutual defence weakness with Argentina. Their forces have withered, but so have the UKs, so hot latin heads could do an off the cuff invasion with whatever they can get to float or fly. It would be scrappy, but given only 4 Typhoons & no armour to stop them, they might get away with it.
So an extra 1 or 2 Typhoons, plus a few armoured vehicles (Warrior,Viking, CVRT, whatever we have a few spare of), could stop a needless defeat. Plus as someone else mentioned we need to arm the Typhoons with Brimstone, Storm Shadow, etc.
Lastly, raid the aid budget & build an 8400ft runway on South Georgia. Would give us a handy back up base to the Falklands & bring adventure tourists to the stunning scenery of South Georgia.

February 27, 2012 12:02 am

Hi Ace,

Your Phantom mention got me quite interested as I think I saw two in Gib *after* they were retired in Oct 1992.

Having checked the sources, looks like the story ran in reverse; what was sent down there was replaced in service by a second-hand purchase [ keeps this mention within the topic!]of US Phantoms
“After the1982 Falklands conflict, a detachment of 29 Squadron FGR2s were deployed to RAF Stanley in October 1982 with 23 Squadron taking over the same air defence machines in March 1983. In November 1988 however, 29 Squadron was redesignated 1435 Flight as the threat to the islands decreased.

To replace 23 Squadron in the British air defence role at Wattisham, 15 upgraded ex-USN/USMC F-4Js, known as the F-4J(UK), were then purchased and entered RAF service with 74 Squadron in October 1984. Regarded as the most capable and pleasant to fly of the RAF Phantoms, the F-4J (UK)s featured General Electric J79 engines, slatted tailplane and high capacity centre line drop tanks and were not withdrawn until early 1991 when 74 Squadron re-equipped with Spey engined FGR2s.”

February 27, 2012 6:50 am

If oil production does begin (and its still a big if) then we obvioulsy need to beef up forces not to mention the FI government will pay so why not. Replacing both Clyde and the Guard ship with a permanent three ship squadron made up of some class of Corvette along the Khareef line makes sense. Sending Apaches there for traing (At the FI gov’s expence) also makes sense as well as 4 extra typhoons. We could do this for realtivley little additional expenditure however we could charge the FI gov for it hopefully netting the MOD more than the additional expenditure. Why not get them to pay for Typhoon integration of Brimestone and ASM. I think allot of people including the Argentines forget that no matter how much oil is found of the FI the UK treasury won’t get a penny. The FI government seesm content to pay for cost from that revenue so why not make sure the place is nice and secure.

February 27, 2012 7:35 am

HOW are the Falklands going to pay? In the initial stages, they’re more likely to lose money starting up than make it. Not to mention this is not how armies build up. Unless you’re America, people don’t walk into an office, plop a billion dollars (yes, Billion: 600M for 3 vettes, 400M for the Phoons in addition to support and ammo + aux helos) on the table and get an instant army.

Armies on a budget (which is most of them) collect equipment in small lots to reach a “basic capacity” over a period of time, not a one shot buy that totally wipes out your funds for the entire year.

February 27, 2012 8:16 am

@ChrisM/APATS: The Inflatable SSN idea could be built around a small motorised barge which would be pulled out to the sea at night, sail for a few miles near some foreign fishing ships, then sunk. Even something showing just the conning tower would be enough.

Based on the fact that Argentinean intelligence capabilities are likely to be very limited especially outside of the populated areas, it is likely that they will be using tools such as Google Earth for the basis of their planning. So, how about this… Get Google to agree to some secret art work on their images – for the price of Photoshop you could have hundreds of bunkers, SAM / SSM complexs, another runway and perhaps even a few ICBMs…

February 27, 2012 9:12 am

@ Observer – Not suggesting we bill them up front. However if the FI do have 60 billion barrels of reserves ($6 trillion) (again a big if) and there are only 2,000 islander’s then it hardly seems fair to me that the country which fought and died to guarantee the islanders soverignty gets zero, mean while everyone in the FI end’s up with GBP 50 million for every man women and child. Again we should look to help them develop this resource in any way we can but there has to be some return for the UK in this. Surley eventually paying the GBP 500 million defence bill or potentially more in the future if we need to guard a large resource is only good and proper. Again I don’t think allot of people understand that it’s not our oil we won’t see a penny beyond paying for defence costs.

February 27, 2012 9:51 am


you can buy satellite imagery from a range of commercial vendors, down to 0.5m resolution if you want to pay several thousands. I don’t think they need Google Earth, nor rely on it for the detailed planning. Useful tool for an overview by non-specialists, but the Int and Plans Cells need a bit more detail.

February 27, 2012 10:38 am

: it’s a fun idea, but with only 7 SSN, the Argies can do the math too :-(

February 27, 2012 11:18 am

@James, okay perhaps we can bring out of storage the DDay props… A few inflatable Sherman tanks and Spitfires is bound to confuse them. :)

February 27, 2012 3:53 pm

If the Argentinians deploy a Mardi Gras float that looks like a Tiger tank, we all know what it means right? :P

paul g
February 27, 2012 5:42 pm

interesting piece in defense industry daily about the c-130 spooky and spooky lite, they have a new bit of kit called the derringer door, fits over the paratroop door means no de-pressurisation and launches small precision guided munitions, old system used the ramp. obviously this frees up the ramp and is easily fitted, nice to have!


February 27, 2012 8:39 pm

This shoestring could help out, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction.


February 27, 2012 8:45 pm

With regards to oil, I’d imagine a deal would be struck whereby the FI government only permits British registered (re; British tax paying) companies to extract the oil, while taking a cut of the oil exports, but certainly they wouldn’t get the full value. The tax income alone should be pretty hefty, along with a supply source that the UK has some degree of control over.

February 27, 2012 9:38 pm

Perhaps TD needs to start a Falklands Open Thread?

I have now convinced myself that they will try something in April.

February 27, 2012 11:12 pm

@APATS re Ascension and pissing off the Yanks.
That is the beauty of “totally nothing to do with the gov honest” terrorists “hijacking” an airliner.
You dont have to blow a hole in the runway, so no physical damage, and if the Yanks really really needed it you could move off the runway and back again. Very flexible, then demand a refuel and fly home to Argentina to a heroes welcome.
I assume the GB response would be to parachute in the SAS hostage rescue team, but it would be a tough takedown when you dont know how hostile the “hostages” are going to be, and messy PR wise..

Re the inflatable SSN. How come no berths – is it a depth issue? How about a fishing boat getting a “surprise” video of one of the FI based helicopters winching down to the dummy?

February 28, 2012 4:46 am

Sub pens are usually for sub maintainance, as in “major shipyard” or “major naval base” as well as the depth issue. Hard to convince others that the Falklands are building and maintaining nuclear subs now or in the near future.

February 28, 2012 5:17 am

@ Jim “This shoestring could help out, sometimes fact is stranger than fiction”.

This seems like an interesting pressure point for us to exploit. I wonder what the fund is. I can only guess it’s an IMF or World Bank assistance fund. Pitty the article is written by the sun witn no info.

Does any one know?

February 28, 2012 5:22 am

As I said before I think the best thing we could do is offer direct aid to Argentina to support their “failing economy” as it presents a risk to our interest’s in the South Atlantic.Make the announcement very public as well. The forces Kirchener to either refuse the aid and let her own people suffer or accept it and admit her economy is f**ked. Either way we come out smelling like roses and she comes off badly. The next presidnet might think again about using the FI as a political football. Again I would also put maximum levarage on Uruguay at the same time. Try to drive a wedge between the two.

February 28, 2012 5:46 am

martin, their economy isn’t so bad as to need external aid yet. My guess if that the aid is an IMF development package, which is hard to justify stopping as it’s International Monetary Fund, not British Monetary Fund.

They’ll never accept it and it’ll be seen as Britain trying to bribe them and an admission of military weakness. Not to mention a possible source of constant blackmail if money does change hands.

What the Falklands might need is a World Court settlement to end Argentinian assertations that they belong to Argentina.

Military wise, maybe a boost of a few (4) 2nd or 3rd hand F-5s operating from Stanley might be worth it? AMRAAM and Paveway capable, might be worthwhile as a cheap low end supplement for the Phoons, and are so “70s” tech that it won’t be seen as an escalation, but will still complicate an aggressor’s problems? And is anyone selling them 2nd hand? New ones are quoted as 2.1M USD per. 2nd hand, might be able to go as low as 1M, the price of a tank.

February 28, 2012 11:29 am

Hi Observer,

Switzerland, soon, RE ” And is anyone selling them 2nd hand?” But USN might snap them up for their “aggressor force”

February 28, 2012 12:10 pm

@Observer re ‘a World Court settlement’
There are many reasons why Argentina as well as the UK did not attempt to bring the matter before an international court. Outcome is far from certain because a lot of the wording being used to describe the situation is not properly defined in international law: e.g. what’s the difference between settling on an island and occupying the same island? Even the word ‘people’ in ‘the right of the FI people to self determination” is subject to a lot of discussion. Thats’ also why the UN calls for ‘peacefull talks’ and so on and does not attempt to propose or impose a specific solution.
It’s up to Argentina and the UK to find a solution, hence the importance for continued diplomatic efforts by the UK, rather than becoming engaged in an action-reaction chain of (military) events, the outcome of which is most uncertain. Also, a status quo may be sufficient or comfortable today for the UK, but may not be so 10 or 20 years from now with a (maybe) wealthier Argentina on a very confident South American continent and a (maybe) struggling UK economy in a declining Europe.
To summarise and to respond to TD’s questions in the beginning of the thread: first lots of diplomacy; lots of intelligence efforts in the second place; third comes a reinforcement plan (with only dry and simulated rehearsals – rehearsing for real is too provocative); and only in fourth place some measures to up defences on the Falklands (a small coast-guard with maritime and air assets in the first place).

February 28, 2012 1:44 pm

WW, I suspect the UK’s case may be a lot stronger than people give it credit for, not to mention people have learned the hard way that displacing people from their homes isn’t a good idea, (Palastine, Ceylon etc), which will be a strong influencing factor in any court settlement. Add to the fact that not a single Argentinian call it home, and it was settled before Argentina even existed, and you have a near ironclad case.

But this is the Home Office’s decision. We’ll see how they jump.

February 28, 2012 1:56 pm

“WW, I suspect the UK’s case may be a lot stronger than people give it credit for,”

Agreed, i read recently that argentina’s own record show that when they were expelled by the british there were in fact no argentinian settlers on the island.

An argentinian garrision yes, but the settlers were random bolivians, chileans, etc.

February 28, 2012 2:16 pm

Yes the facts speak for themselves. But opinions and beliefs sometimes trump facts. It is all about perception. Histories can be rewritten.

February 28, 2012 3:16 pm

“History written by the victors” is a line that I’ve come to believe is often quoted but with not much real evidence to back it up.

Sabrine, Carthage, Sparta all still stand as condemnations to the attackers even though they won in the end.

February 28, 2012 3:20 pm

I take everyone’s comments on the mine scenario – Argentina’s use of mines in the vicinity of the Falkland would be a highly escalatory act, and in any event Argentina could probably find many more efficient ways to make life difficult in the South Atlantic short of trying to plant a mine.

However, when it comes to Argentine irregular maritime operations (of whatever type) I think the bigger issue is that of cost, especially if we are considering how to improve the defense of the Falkland “on a shoestring.” Whether it is low-level maritime harassment, Gaza-Flotilla-style protest at sea, or more escalatory measures, the primary difficulty for the victim of irregular maritime warfare is that the countermeasures are inevitably many times more expensive than the measures themselves.

Take, for example, low-level maritime harassment (cutting cables, fowling screws, attacking crews with water canons, etc.). These sorts of attacks are usually cost-efficient to the attacker, because they force the defenders to be in a constant state of readiness, while the attacking forces (with a safe haven in Argentine ports) can choose to strike or stand down at their leisure. Even if the attacker’s tools cost the same as those of the defenders, the defenders would already be at a disadvantage cost-for-cost. This disparity is further aggravated by the fact that patrol vessels (while generally not that expensive) cost much more than the simple civilian craft that can be used for harassment. The defender’s difficulties are compounded if one considers the force protection needs – since Argentina could potentially escalate from low-level to high-level conflict whenever it chooses (for example, Argentina could stage a trap and attack one of the patrol vessels with rockets, missiles, or torpedoes), the more patrol vessels that are deployed, the more assets that must be deployed to protect those patrol vessels in the event of escalation. The costs for the defender compound themselves, while the attacker has invested in a few small ocean-going vessels. In the end, if Argentina opted to escalate on a low level, they could force Britain to spend a disproportionate amount trying to ensure maritime security around the Falkland.

I think this cost dynamic is the fundamental difficulty facing the British in the Falkland (much as it is for the US Navy in many other parts of the world), certainly more than the difficulty of trying to defend the Falkland against a major conventional attack (on which I tend to agree with many of the points made in Sir Humphrey’s previous post). Several participants have mentioned inexpensive unmanned systems as one possible way of trying to reverse this cost balance (though given the importance of human intelligence – primarily VBSS – in dealing with a cluttered maritime environment, I’m skeptical of the extent to which unmanned systems, and especially cheap unmanned systems, can actually significantly reverse the attacker’s cost advantages). There may be other technical methods to help alleviate this disadvantage. However, I think the bigger strategic question (perhaps beyond the scope of this discussion) is the extent to which Britain would be willing to double-down on defending the Falkland in the event of a persistent Argentine harassment campaign, and what that doubling-down would mean in terms of drawing further international attention (and perhaps criticism?) to the Falkland.

Dangerous Dave
Dangerous Dave
February 28, 2012 3:21 pm

Well, you all seem to have had fun here, don’t you? I feel like the guest that turns up to a party after all the booze has run out!

I’d just like to second Jackstaff’s proposal at the beginning of the comments, even if maligning the current government is calling me on my own politial persuasion (For the avoidance of doubt, I’m a Liberal (don’t ever add Democrat at the end though!) :-).

Personally I’d add defnesive elements one at a time. For each ARG bit of willy waving I’d add one “thing”. i.e. Deny cruise ships that have visited the FI a berth? Double the Typhoon contingent. Rant on about “militarisation if the FI?” Get a Sqn of RAF Regt. to defend MPA. ets. Eventually you’ll get a pavlovian feedback loop, and Mrs Whatsherface, will keep quiet for fear of provoking another upgrade in FI defence.

I’m all for practising the reinforcement of FI on a regular basis, it would at least demonstrate our commitment to FI to the ARG, and also practise the reinforcement plan and other underused abilities, such as Air Assault and Beach Assault.

Finally using the FI as a large Firing Range (Arty, Air?) and training base for “Cold and Boggy” warfare (rather than Hot and Sandy, which we have all too much experiance in) is a wonderful idea, I don’t know why we don’t use more of our oversea’s territories like this?

P.S. if TD wants to set up a FI Open Thread, I vote that it be called the TITSNBN Open Thread in true Think Defence stylee! :-P

February 28, 2012 3:42 pm


Look under the thread “Falklands” :P

Adun has a point though, if we followed your plan, it might work, but boy will it be expensive before she finally shuts up. Or worse if she figures out your plan and spews provocation to try breaking your piggybank.

February 28, 2012 4:04 pm

I fully agree the UK has a strong case and its case is probably a lot stronger than Argentina’s, but it is not sufficiently strong that you’re sure to win in court. Imagine the embarassement and damage when you go to court over the FI and loose. That’s why nobody goes to court in this matter.
So back to good old fashioned diplomacy in search of a permanent solution, because, right or wrong, the Falklands themselves are the first victims of this enduring ‘conflict’.
In the meantime, best not to over-react (but be prepared!).

February 28, 2012 8:15 pm

This has caught my eye, its by Adrian Salbuchi a political analyst, author, speaker and radio/TV commentator in Argentina.

I have copied some of the more interesting comments. The link is here. http://www.eurasiareview.com/11022012-british-laughter-in-the-falkland-islands-oped/

Argentina had US-brand Money Power “democracy” imposed upon it, as punishment for daring to recover the Falklands in 1982.

Whilst over the past three decades the British have built up a powerful military nuclear base in the Falklands to serve UK-US strategic interests in the region

the UK (and US) against whom we went to war in 1982

In Argentina’s case, England has a bad track record, having repeatedly tried to invade it over the past 300 years.

Yes I do believe he is serious.

February 28, 2012 10:46 pm

Interesting article, I enjoyed having a suspension of disbelief-fuelled feeling of massive imperial power for a few moments.
The article originally came from russia today http://rt.com/news/british-laughter-falkland-islands-979/
so i wouldnt put too much money on him being serious, just towing the editorial line of someone definitely not pulling the strings of the totally independent russian media
Or they got him to write it because hes a fruitcake, it’s academic really

February 28, 2012 11:09 pm

@ Jim72

He may be a fruitcake but there are lots who believe that stuff. If the rest of the world think they have a case it doesn’t matter about the “facts”.

Brian Black
Brian Black
February 29, 2012 12:44 pm

That’s an odd article, Jim.

“British and American geopolitical objectives [including]:

Projecting US and UK power over Argentina’s immensely rich and grossly under-populated Patagonia Region facing the Falklands/Malvinas”

Are the British and Americans planning an invasion of Patagonia after Afghanistan?
I’m sure the couple of thousand non-British tourists aboard the two cruise ships turned away from Argentina the other day aren’t going to be very pleased by getting tied up in their nuisance behaviour. Exactly the kind of PR blunder the Argentines need to avoid.

March 2, 2012 3:53 am

So I know I am late to the party on this thread but I still want to get some ideas out there. I first posted this for the Falklands Wish list post but was a little late and I think its just as relevant here.
1. Better Threat Detection: I agree that upgrading the radar facilities and adding a web of other sensors is a great idea. I think this is the perfect opportunity for the Persistent Threat Detection System
The system can incorporate many different sensors for real time situational awareness including radar, infrared, electro-optical. It would provide a great increase in the ability to detect all manner of threats and could be tailored with custom sensor packages specifically for the Falklands Theater.
2. Better Passive Protection: It seems to be obvious that any military instillation should be surrounded by some sort of berm with a ditch to provide defensive positions. A simple grass covered berm would blend in so it doesn’t create any problems politically and isn’t immediately obvious to anyone trying to take the airbase.
3. Better Active Protection: If things really do go wrong the garrison would have to fend off an invasion. I would hope the planners already have studied the 1982 invasion and the current capabilities of the Argentine armed forces. To counter the invasion threat the first line of defense is the Typhoon fighters. I think a logical next tier would be land based anti ship missiles (think of a scenario where the planes or runway are destroyed) It wouldn’t be hard to mount a launcher on the back of a truck, a radar on another, park it in a barn somewhere in the middle of nowhere so it won’t be attacked itself and drive it out of hiding to strike. The air base itself should be protected by an integrated system such as the sky shield.
Integrate this with the MANTIS system for counter rocket artillery mortar capability and the base would be very well defended from just about any threat.
I would hope that the artillery detachment already there is very good at keeping ships off the beaches, maybe added guided munitions to ensure hits against ships landing forces.
Back up the artillery with land based Brimstone Missiles. The Scandinavians use Hellfire in that role but laser guidance isn’t nearly as reliable in South Atlantic weather as the Brimstones radar would be. Lastly I like the idea of using the surplus RARDEN turrets as fixed fortifications, 2 dozen well placed turrets could cause a lot of problems for any invasion force.
4. Better Maritime Patrol: I think it’s a great idea of adding a pair of SIMSS which are a great concept. I could probably add another blog post on just this subject but I’ll try and keep it brief. The River Class is very capable and should be kept. If HMS Endurance is not being put back into service then HMS Protector should be purchased and have a dedicated helicopter hangar added. Since a missile armed helicopter was one of the greatest assets of the original HMS Endurance During the Falklands War. In the long run I think an idea would be a fleet of CB90 armed with the Brimstone and AMOS as well as Pascat landing craft.
5. Air Power: I agree that the current set up isn’t great but I think instead of replacing it with a pair of A400M it should be a pair of KC-130J with the Harvest HAWK kit.
This gives great capability for cargo transport and refueling as well as already combat tested weapons capability. The typical load out is 4 Hellfire, 10 Griffin Missiles and a 30mm cannon. It has fully integrated ISR capability with the same AN/AAQ-30 Targeting Sight System (TSS) as the AH-1Z attack helicopter. Long term upgrades could include the Raytheon SeaVue radar from the Reaper UAV as well as the Maverick missile for anti ship use and anti submarine sensors. This would provide much better reconnaissance, and weapon capabilities in a battle proven system with significantly less cost compared to trying to integrate those systems into the A400M. As an added bonus since there is already a C-130 stationed there would be no added logistically complexity from this.
6. Make It Multinational: I agree with the idea of inviting the Scandinavians, they are the best in the business at protecting rugged islands. The Finnish Coastal Jaegers are an entire unit devoted to just that job. But why stop there, the Falklands are a unique training environment so many other countries should be invited, I would hope the Netherlands Marines and French Marines would join in on some large scale exercises. As a U.S. citizen myself I think a forward deployed Marine Expeditionary Unit is the perfect combined arms task force for the Falkland Islands.
A greater multinational presence there would provide enhanced readiness and more political clout.
7. Active Deterrence: The best way to protect the Falklands is to make it clear that you have the capability and the will to hold and retake the islands. The best way to do this is to proceed with the Queen Elizabeth Class which would give you the power to take back the islands. Then every year or two hold a REFORGER style exercise where the capability to hold the island is shown such as some contingency plans (maybe have a few emergency airfields ready to go incase Mount Pleasant is attacked) and the capability to hold off people from the beaches. At the same time a huge naval task force exercise showing how the Royal Navy could cruise down to the Falklands, dominate the air and sea, land marines and control the land would be the best way to prevent a Falklands Invasion. Ideally you would want to prove that the islands can be reinforced within 36 hours or so and that no invasion had a hope of succeeding or staying on the islands. Add to this the ability to deliver the Royal Marines to the Island by a show of expeditionary force and it will make any think twice about invading.

Overall I think this was a great mental exercise for what we could do cheaply and in the near term as well as if money and time is no issue for protection of the Falklands and getting the most value out of what we have there. Thanks for the opportunity to let other people listen to my daydreaming about such things.

March 2, 2012 10:11 am

Well seen as it’s on a shoe string; I’d look at saving money down there first. Does the RAF still do just 6 week tours? When I lived on the Islands in 1999-2000 that’s all they stayed down there for. Meaning a constant rotation of staff and retraining. I’d up the tour length to four months. Straight away that should cut the through put of new staff coming and then going and allow them to really horne their respective skills.

That would also be the crux of what I’d do as well; using the Islands as a training base. Get an RAF Regiment squadron down there on rotation and have them teach the station staff to be soldiers. They may be specialist Radar Operators, or engine fitters; but their service personal first and foremost. May not be the most popular posting, but there are other opportunities for adventure training etc to break it up.

Ship a couple of Vikings down there, enough to move the RIC about + a couple of recovery vehicles and have them training to use them. I’d also buy the Thor Starstreak/LMM system and have it mounted on a couple of Vikings for direct fire support / local air defence. If the balloon ever should go up; the Station personal, support by the RAF Reg hold tight, whilst the RIC move out in their Vikings under their own air-defence umbrella. A few of CRV(T)’s as they go out of the main service could be sent south as well.

For airplanes; a couple more ‘phoons wouldn’t go amiss, and the number of C130’s should be increased to 3 (maybe even 4) and have them used for helping to supply the Oil Rigs when they spring up and also conducting flights checking shipping. Keep the Hercs down their till their flying hours are used up.

It would make great sense to hold a joint-littoral/Coastal training exercise down there with the USMC and Scandinavian Countries every few years, but I wouldn’t keep anything based there full time. Cost saving being key.

March 2, 2012 10:19 am

‘. Does the RAF still do just 6 week tours?’

The pilots do everyone else does 4 or 6 months.

‘Get an RAF Regiment squadron down there on rotation and have them teach the station staff to be soldiers.’

All personal do the several times a year exercise held in the FI. That’s one of their main jobs in the UK to teach that, they teach it to everyone else in the RAF before they deploy anywhere.

‘For airplanes; a couple more ‘phoons wouldn’t go amiss, and the number of C130’s should be increased to 3 (maybe even 4)’

I’m not sure how that ties up with doing it on a shoestring?

March 2, 2012 10:30 am

@ Topman

Why do the pilots only do 4 to 6 weeks? I appreciate it is a stressful job and accidents will happen if pilots get fatigued. But RN flight crew don’t swap 6 weeks into a deployment.

And how good a “soldier” then is the average RAF maintainer? Shooting and safe weapon handling is all well and good, but soldiering is much more than that. Even the basics are much more than that.

March 2, 2012 10:34 am

Currency reasons, this means their tours are smaller but they are down more often. As to the navy I don’t know how the view currency and risk.

Compared to what? Yes I know that. Depends on the deployment a training package is given. To what level depends on role and risk.

March 2, 2012 10:57 am

Well, if you can’t get the Phoon on a shoestring, try the F-5? It was originally designed to be a cheap interceptor, and might still be able to do the job. If push came to shove, I admit they will die fairly quickly, but they will still get their missiles off, which might make a difference.

March 2, 2012 10:59 am

I’m not sure ‘ If push came to shove, I admit they will die fairly quickly,’ will be much of a plan.

Nor would many be happy with certain death if the upside was ‘but they will still get their missiles off, which might make a difference.’

March 2, 2012 11:11 am

Well Top, better a bad plane in a war than no plane.

Remember the old German joke.
“If you see a black plane, it’s the RAF, if you see a blue plane, it’s the USAF. If you see no plane, it’s the Luftwaffe.”

March 2, 2012 12:27 pm

@Observer: unless the German plane is a Horten IX :-)

March 2, 2012 12:36 pm

Wasn’t that the semi-mythical stealth flying wing?

gov action
gov action
March 26, 2012 12:30 am