Sunday, 6 June 2010

Falkland Islands Invade South America.

It is often erroneously stated that the four Typhoon fighers based in the Falklands can defend those islands from attacks.

There are a number of reasons why this is not the case.

One of those reasons is weather.

The Typhoons have only a single runway to operate from in the Falkland Islands.

That runway is sometimes closed by the often atrocious weather.

Usually the Typhoons manage to land before this happens.

But sometimes they do not.

In those cases the Typhoons must divert to an airbase on the South American mainland.

This requires a great deal of fuel and it is the reason there is a VC10 tanker aircraft in the Falklands to support fighter operations.

When the runway is closed the tanker has enough fuel to get the fighters to the nearest mainland base.

More accurately,to the nearest friendly mainland base.

Landing in Argentina would cause an international incident.

This is why two Typhoons and a VC10 recently found themselves in Punta Arenas,Chile.

To get to Punta Arenas they had to fly through Argentinian airspace.

This article about this incident was published by MercoPress.


Alex (the orriginal) said...

this is just a thought, but would not another reason be that the Eurofighters involved can not carry neither bombs nor anti-ship missiles?

yours sincerely


tangosix said...

Hello alex,

I think many people forget that the Typhoons were delivered "fitted for but not with" most of their weapon systems.
Including of course their primary anti-aircraft weapon Meteor,which is still not operational seven years after Typhoons entered service.


tangosix said...

Hello alex,

do you prefer to write your username with a capital "A" in "Alex" or without?
I noticed you use both and wasn't sure which I should reply with.


TheRagingTory said...

I dont quite see how that proves that the aircraft cant protect the islands.
Its rather unfortunate, and one wonders why a secondary strip hasnt been built, but its not that catastrophic.
Even if Argentina did refuse them transit, it would be challenging to shoot them down, and risking a regional war if it attacked the Chilean airbase they're landing at.
But if we assume they are destroyed, they dont defend the islands alone, theres a submarine waiting to sink the invasion fleet.

Typhoon is capable of deploying the Paveway IV 500lb bomb and the Brimstone missile both of which are precision weapons in a ground attack role
Not ideal anti ship weapons, but far more than Argentina had the last time round.
No ship in the Argentine fleet is going to be capable of fighting after being hit by 6 Brimstones.

Although true, the Typhoon doesnt have its new super missile, in the South Atlantic, it would be battling ground attack aircraft that were past it in the 70's

GrandLogistics said...

Hello TheRagingTory,

there are a number of reasons why the islands can't be defended by 4 Typhoons,this is just the most obvious one of them.

If the only runway is closed by bad weather,the fighters which rely on that runway to take off aren't going to be shooting anyone down.

Other problems include availability.
With 4 combat aircraft one would only expect 3 to be available at any one time,on a good day.
If any of those three go out on patrol,once they are bingo fuel they will be unavailable for some time while they return to base,land and are turned round again.

With just 4 aircraft it is not possible to operate a round the clock combat air patrol so aircraft must be on ground based alert.
Unfortunately,as there is no airborne early warning in the Falklands,those ground alert aircraft depend on warning from the land based radars.
The locations of those radars is known and one can deduce their radar horizon from that.
Knowing the speed of Argentinian combat aircraft at low level,it is possible to work out roughly how many minutes (not many) the Typhoons would have to scramble and intercept before the Argentinians hit the runway and radars.
Even if the Typhoons did manage to get airborne,the Argentinians are adept at decoying fighters and with so few Typhoons that will cause big problems.
The Argentinians have enough aircraft to run the legs off such a small Typhoon fleet even without engaging them.
Hence the Falklands air defence depends primarily on the Rapier battery not the Typhoons.
But the Rapiers can't be everywhere and the Argentinians only have to air drop artillery within radius of the runway to shut it down.

There is a similar problem with submarines.
To maintain one in the Falklands all the time would take at least half of the British attack submarine fleet.
I would suggest it is unlikely that we keep one there all the time as a consequence.
Even if we could do that,it could be in only one place at a time.
The Argentinians can quite legally sail their ships within sight of the shore before hostilities begin.
If they approach from multiple directions,the submarine would at best be able to take out one ship before it could land it's forces.

The Falklands looks like the Singapore of the South Atlantic.


Chuck Hill said...

While the airstrip may have made the the islands more difficult (but not impossible) to take, it has made them much easier for the Argentines to hold, in that if they convert the airstation to their own uses they will not be flying their aircraft against an approaching fleet at extreme ranges that limited their fighters to subsonic speeds and limited the number of strike aircraft the few that could make it unrefueled or to at most four that could be refueled enroute.

Rather they will have all the advantages of short flight times, high sortie rates, and quick turn around.

TheRagingTory said...

Chuck Hill
It would not be a catastrophic disaster if the airbase wasnt put beyond use before it was taken, we have submarine launched missiles

Brian Black said...

All the island's defensive forces, as they stand now, could not stop a determined Argentina from taking the islands. This though is largely irrelevant - any decision to invade another territory is not just made on a simple calculation of who would win the battle, but is measured against the cost of victory in lives, money and equipment capability. This in turn is measured against both domestic and international political gains and loses.
Britain needs only the strength to increase the cost of invasion beyond what the Argentines are prepared to pay at any particular time, rather than the capability to defeat an attack outright. This strength can be beefed up or reduced as necessary.