Defending the Falklands with RAF Phantom FGR2s

The presence of RAF Phantom FGR2s first on Ascension and then the Falkland Islands themselves provided a potent air defence capability — and some memorable flying for their crew

For close on four decades now, RAF air defenders have stood on alert in the Falkland Islands, never required ‘in anger’ but ready should ever the call to arms arise. Today they are Typhoons, before them Tornado F3s, but think RAF fighters in the Falklands and you probably think Phantoms.

Phantom at Stanley after Falklands War
Sparks flying from contact between the hook and the metal runway planking, a No 23 Squadron FGR2 takes the wire at Stanley in 1984. ROB TILLYARD

Indeed, it was with a detachment of Phantom FGR2s from No 29 Squadron that this potent presence began — not then on the Falklands themselves, of course, but the wild and windswept Ascension Island, then so vital to Britain’s South Atlantic strategy. Upon moving further south, initially to Port Stanley and then Mount Pleasant, the Phantoms assumed a commitment to the Falklands that has never ceased to be relevant.

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