Falklands and Beyond: Fleet Air Arm

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Why was the Fleet Air Arm so important in the Falklands conflict?

When Argentina invaded the Falklands on the morning of the 2 April 1982 the Royal Navy had 2 operational Sea Harrier Squadrons with 12 aircraft between them. When the task force left for Argentina on the 5 April, however, the fleet carried 20 Sea Harriers and 8 more followed within a week. This was due to excellent work by engineers and aircrew and using machines from reserve and training squadrons. Nevertheless, the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force Harriers that operated in the Falklands faced a more numerous and very well trained Argentinian air force.

The British Task Force sent to the Falklands had two aircraft carriers HMS Hermes and HMS Invincible. For Britain to wage a conflict at such distance it was necessary for the Royal Navy to take everything required. By filling every space possible on board Royal Navy ships and using merchant vessels and ships taken up from trade, Britain was able to operate 34 Harriers and 172 helicopters in the Falklands. The Royal Navy operated Wessex HU5s, HAS 3s, Westland Wasps, Lynxes and Sea Harriers. Follow the links below to discover the roles and operations they took part in.

The conflict lasted from the 2 April to the 14 June 1982 when General Menendez, Commander of the Argentinian ground forces on the Falkland Islands, surrendered to his opposite number Major-General Jeremy Moore. The British took 12 700 Argentinian prisoners. They left behind them tons of equipment, rations, ammunition and other supplies. Argentina had lost over 100 aircraft, 8 ships and boats (including the cruiser General Belgrano) had been lost or damaged and 655 men had been killed. British forces had lost 34 aircraft, 2 Destroyers 2 Frigates and 258 men.

Pictogram showing the position of Argentinian and British forces during the Falklands War (FAAM)
Pictogram showing the position of Argentinian and British forces during the Falklands War (FAAM)

Follow the links to find more about...

Lynx Helicoptors

Westland Wasps

Wessex Helicoptors

Fuerze Aerea Argentina

The Sea Harrier


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