Falklands war and the shambles that it was behind the scenes

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You should read this, some exerts below https://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/documents/Research/RAF-Historical-Society-Journals/Journal-30-Seminar-The-Falklands-Campaign.pdf Fascinating and engrossing read as to the lack of preparedness we had during the war and also the extremes we went to to achieve the goal of recapturing the islands..
A more cheerful event was the discovery, and removal from the VC10 in the Museum at Duxford, of some engines that had quite a lot of life remaining. And at the rate at which the VC10s were flying, we needed every hour of that life. In a wider perspective, we quickly learned that the wartime rates of effort postulated in TSD 784 were rather below the rates we were experiencing. I am sure that I have overlook
. I asked if the US would help in providing whatever was necessary. The admiral said that, of course they wanted to help, and asked how much fuel were we thinking of. I told him that we would like an eightmillion gallon tanker full of jet fuel off the settlement of Georgetown within the next seven days. The UK could not provide one, but we hoped the US military could help us out. The admiral pulled the screens back on the big plotting chart on his wall showing the whereabouts of every tanker in which the military had an interest. After some discussion on the telephone, he fingered one of the plots and said they could divert it to do what we wanted. I seem to remember that it was a tanker on its way to Guantanamo. ‘How are you going to store and use the fuel?’, the admiral wanted to know. I told him that the ship would have to lie off Georgetown with lines ashore and be used as a floating fuel station until empty. ‘How long will that take and will you need any more?’, was his next question. I said that we would need a similar tanker seven days after the first, and then another in seven more days, and so on. ‘You can’t use that much fuel!’, he said. I assured him we were going to try, and he thereupon set about making long-term plans to meet the requirement
The Vulcans we had just given to the USAF; they had probes on, didn’t they? Yes, they did. What followed was very embarrassing. A small team of RAF technicians hurried across the Atlantic. They arrived in civilian clothes and went sneaking around USAF museums, surreptitiously removing the Vulcan probes. At the end of the war, I got a signal from Castle AFB Museum congratulating us on our success and demanding the immediate return of stolen property.
My largest acquisition came once it was certain that our efforts on the Falklands would be crowned by success. It became apparent that we were going to need to improve Port Stanley airfield substantially once it was captured, so I went to the Pentagon to see J3(Operations), Lt Gen Phillip Gast, USAF, and RAdm Bob Hilton. They were used to my forays by this time, but even they blanched a bit when I said I wanted to buy an airfield. I went into some detail about needing 7000 feet of 35 runway, a parallel taxiway, a parking apron, arrester gear, and so on. For the first and only time during the war, they hesitated. They explained that the AM2 steel matting they had available was allocated as war stocks and was owned by the Marines. However, it was not long before Bob Hilton gave me an answer. We could have the matting from the Marines’ east coast war stocks and they would deliver it to Baltimore for shipping. It subsequently became the new Port Stanley airfield.
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I've heard the story about the AAR gear being removed from museum Vulcans. However, I don't believe they were removed without the knowledge and approval of the USAF. The work was surreptitious to the public, not the USAF as seems to be suggested here.

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There now followed an extraordinary period duringwhich the US seemed to us in the British Embassy to be pursuing twodifferent policies: one public, originating in the State Department, and[FONT=sans-serif]the other more quietly, in the Pentagon.
Not unlike what happens in the UK between the FCO and the MOD[/FONT]

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Not sure I'm comfortable with the word 'shambles'; the British (especially the military) have a great tradition of self-deprecation that is not really understood by other nations. Despite this, the British Armed Forces successfully carried out an incredible feat-of-arms, with thankfully minimal casualties, that few other nations would have even attempted and which many (including the United States of America) thought impossible, given the resources available.
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Despite this, the British Armed Forces successfully carried out an incredible feat-of-arms, with thankfully minimal casualties, that few other nations would have even attempted and which many (including the United States of America) thought impossible, given the resources available.
We could not have successfully carried it out though without the crucial support from the USA.

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The most easily avoidable shambles was the poor liason with the media. This resulted in almost real time updates of activity such as the Goose Green advance. Islanders gave a lot of assistance including driving transport across rough ground at great risk to themselves. Lessons learned were I hope applied in later combats.

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We could not have successfully carried it out though without the crucial support from the USA.
I'm not sure I'd agree with that entirely, although the help the USA did give was gratefully recieved, militarily (and politically), very useful and undoubtably saved lives. What assistance, militarily, did the Untied Kingdom receive from the United States that was 'crucial' to the liberation of the Falklands? In terms of 'weapons' I can only think of the AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles that the UK took from (British) 'war stocks' that the US 'replaced' from their own stocks and some Stinger and Shrike missiles; all good to have but the the difference between success and failure? The AIM-9G was nearly as good as the AIM-9L, not 'all aspect' (and slightly shorter range?), but would probably have still got about 85% of the kills that the AIM-9L got. The Stinger missile was a good weapon but very few were taken south (by the SAS) and they were used only against the, singularly ineffective, Pucara ground-attack aircraft. The Shrike missile, although used with great ingenuity by the RAF, scored only one success (and not against its intended target). The fuel at Ascension Island was extremely useful but could have been obtained elsewhere (commercially) at some cost, but very little risk, the only real loss would have been time. Most of the urgent need for fuel was for the (mostly) 'ineffective' Vulcan raids anyway. And Ascension Island itself was a British possession, the airfield and facilities (what facilities?) were American but they could hardly refuse a request to use them could they? Now there could well be other 'military' assistance that I'm unaware of, and I'm sure there was a lot of 'behind-the-scenes' stuff going on, but in purely 'front line' assistance I think the United Kingdom could have managed (despite the views in Argentina, where many believe that the British ranks were swelled with American pilots and aircraft)!
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I understand the U.S. provided a great deal of Intel and or recon. I would imagine they full story has yet to be told. Remember, this was the UK's fight and the US had to keep good relations with Argentina and the rest of the region. Modern wars are won through logistics, I don't think "Creaking Door" appreciates the huge help the U.S. provided. I don't think much of the equipment was readily available on the open market. And recall that the U.S. would sell, at a very advantageous price, Phantoms to "top off" it's fleet to enable a detachment to remain in the islands. I don't know of another country that would have text the various types of assistance rendered by the U.S., in other words, this operation was a prime example of the US/UK's "special relationship". Politically, it helped that the UK was clearly the aggrieved party, and there was a close relationship between Reagan and Thatcher (As a contrast, I don't think the Obama administration would have been as accommodating in providing anything more than the barest of treaty commitments). The biggest take-away is that military operations can come out of no where and be unexpected. Even the most clueless politicians should see that having a military with only the lowest number of assets necessary to meet projected "paper" requirements, probably isn't going to do well in a real emergency. The UK did very well, but it had to scramble and "make do".
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Perhaps I should have said ''much more difficult'' or perhaps ''less successful''. The USA certainly provided the avtur fuel tanker ultra quickly,I am not sure if that could have been achieved any other way in the same time scale and as reliably but certainly possible by other means (would a civvy tanker company have risked getting 'involved'? I would not underestimate the 'kill' improvement that the AIM9 L provided - they were much more accurate and manoueverable than the older 'winders' which ISTR had a kill probability of 10-15%
The combination of new seeker and canards results in much better manoeuvre performance than any earlier subtype, while the new detector allows acquisition of targets from any aspect at substantially greater ranges. The Lima entered service in the late seventies and first drew blood in 1982, used in both the Falklands campaign and the Bekaa Valley air battle. In both campaigns the weapon was a star performer, achieving kill probabilities in excess of 80%

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Much of the equipment that has been mentioned so far is 'post-war'; the runway steel-planking, the arrester-gear (for Phantoms) even the fifteen Phantom F-4J fighters were for short-term United Kingdom commitments to NATO to cover the four RAF Phantoms eventually deployed to Stanley Airfield. Don't think that I'm ungrateful to the United States, or that I don't appreciate the logistics involved, but I'm also convinced that, up until the Argentine surrender at least, the United Kingdom could have liberated the Falklands without anybody's help, just! That doesn't mean that it wasn't desirable to have the help that we did, just that it should be put into the proper perspective. The same goes for some of the activities carried out by British Armed Forces; I have the greatest respect for everything that went into the Vulcan / Victor 'Black Buck' operation, but was it actually a 'war winning' operation?

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Perhaps I should have said ''much more difficult'' or perhaps ''less successful''. The USA certainly provided the avtur fuel tanker ultra quickly,I am not sure if that could have been achieved any other way in the same time scale and as reliably but certainly possible by other means (would a civvy tanker company have risked getting 'involved')?
I'll certainly agree with 'more difficult'! With regards to tanker ships; the 'American' tankers in the original post were stationed at Ascension Island (4000 miles beyond the range of Argentine forces) while plenty of 'civvy' British registered ships were 'in harms way'... ...the 'Atlantic Conveyor' was a civilian ship (sunk 25th May 1982) as were the 'Canberra' and several civilian tankers.

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At a presentation by Mog Morgan, I asked if the 9L had made a significant difference. He replied that despite the fact that 9L was a really great piece of kit, his kills were all within the envelope of the 9G. He believed all of the others were rear aspect so he thought in real terms the advantage was minimal....but did add, that having its extended capabilities there made more of a difference than the kill history might seem to represent. As for recon assistance, the US reposition a KH11 satellite burning up most of fuel and never asked for a penny. I remember reading about a group of SAS guys in the US learning how to use Stinger when the invasion happened. They were told to return to the U.K. as soon as possible, oh and could they bring with them a few Stingers. This lead them to appearing at a BA check in desk with some rather odd looking green tubes on their baggage trolley. Then off course they were asked if they had anything in their luggage which could endanger the safety of an aeroplane?

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The commander of the Task Force, Admiral 'Sandy' Woodward wasn't very complimentary about the usefulness of 'satellite reconnaissance' during the conflict; remember it was the middle of the winter in the South Atlantic and the satellite technology of the time wasn't up to seeing through cloud. It also wasn't exactly 'real time' either; one US satellite that I did hear was used was still using 'wet film' and the only way to access the images was to parachute them over the ocean for a 'mid-air' pick-up (and then return the film to the USA for developing)! Obviously this wouldn't be done until the film magazine (one of two?) was used-up as there was no way to replace it! Even then there would be no guarantee that you'd have got anything useful; things have moved on a bit since 1982! Another indicator of the lack of satellite coverage is the number of reconnaissance missions flown by aircraft: Victors and Nimrods from Ascension, Sea Harriers and Harriers from the Task Force, and, apparently, Canberras from Chile; not to mention all the SAS intelligence-gathering patrols put ashore.

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The Black Buck missions had no real effect in the war in terms of the outcome. Chile militarilly helped - much of which will stay off record . It should be pointed out that Haig went to great lengths to avoid a war .

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As the thread title says " [h=2]Falklands war and the shambles that it was behind the scenes" I wonder how many extra lives were lost because of lack of equipment and the "mend and make do necessity" ,we don't learn ,the amount of deaths in the Middle East 20 years later because the troops didn't have the correct equipment.[/h]

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The general opinion is the Canberras never made it to Chile, although the Nimrod R1 probably operated out of San Felix.

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I wonder how many extra lives were lost because of lack of equipment...
But when has the United Kingdom ever had the luxury of having a big enough defence budget to get 'the right equipment' (even if we knew which war we'd be fighting next, which we never seem to)? It is only through the 'make do' attitude of our Armed Forces that we've ever been able to 'punch above our weight' and most politicians are acutely aware that defence spending is not a vote winner and any suggestion of spending the 'necessary' billions will bring forth a chorus of 'wasting money' and 'better spent on the NHS'!

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"would a civvy tanker company have risked getting 'involved?'" What nonsense, the ships were STUFT the owners has no choice. Some of the crews however heroically volunteered and for example the 12 casualties from Atlantic Conveyor included 6 from the Merchant Navy Merchant Navy Bosun (Petty Officer I) John B. Dobson Mechanic (Petty Officer I) Frank Foulkes Assistant Steward David R. S. Hawkins Mechanic (Petty Officer Ii) James Hughes Captain Ian H. North, Dsc Mechanic (Petty Officer Ii) Ernest M. Vickers Royal Fleet Auxiliary First Radio Officer Ronald Hoole Laundryman Ng Por Laundryman Chan Chi Shing Royal Navy Chief Petty Officer Edmund Flanagan Air Engineering Mechanic (r) Adrian J. Anslow Leading Air Engineering Mechanic (l) Don L. Price

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The Black Buck missions had no real effect in the war in terms of the outcome .
This remains controversial, the same sort of thing has been said about the Dambusters raid. It is a fact that the Argentineans did not operate fast air out of Port Stanley after the raid on the airfield, furthermore the raids on the air defences must have given them pause for thought, not to mention the shock effect and the unspoken threat of attacks against the mainland.

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Port Slanley AIrport’s runway was very short less than 4000ft. Navy Aermacchi MB326’s operated from PSA both before and after Black Buck. Argentina’s Mirages and Draggers were the early ones without leading edge slats so taking off from PSA could just only manage a ferry flight (zero external stores) to the main land. Skyhawks could do a little better but not much and the Navy ones had air to air refuelling, admittedly from just two C130 tankers, which was far more useful as shown with the operation on the 25May. I’ve never been able to find the take off performance data for the Super Etandard but they again had air to air refuelling and while Exocet was available were too valuable to risk. When the RAF got there they installed just under another 1000ft of PSP (bought from the US Marines) and a sophisticated cable arresting system for the F4.