El despliegue actual de fuerzas militares británicas en Falklands islands
19 febrero, 2010 § Deja un comentario
The Falkland Islands are an overseas territory of the United Kingdom and, as such, rely on the UK for guarantee of their security. The other UK territories in the South Atlantic, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, fall under the protection of the British forces on the Falklands (also known as British Forces Falkland Islands or British Forces South Atlantic Islands), which includes commitments from the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. They are headed by the Commander of the British Forces South Atlantic Islands (CBFSAI).
Following the reclamation of the territory in 1982, the UK invested heavily in the defence of the islands, the centrepiece of which is the new airfield at RAF Mount Pleasant, 25 miles west of the previous base at Stanley. The base was opened in 1985, and became fully operational in 1986.
The Falkland Islands maintains its own part-time volunteer force, the Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF), previously known as the Falkland Islands Volunteer Corps. Although this unit existed in 1982 as a reinforcement for the Governor’s detachment of Royal Marines, it did not play any part in the main conflict during the war of 1982, its members having spent the duration of the hostilities under house arrest by the Argentines after their surrender on Argentine capture of the islands.
RAF Mount Pleasant has its own port facility called Mare Harbour, and the Royal Navy maintains a presence in the area with a frigate or destroyer in the South Atlantic and a patrol ship permanently close to the islands. In addition, an Ice Patrol Ship, HMS Endurance, is on station close to Antarctica for six months of the year.
The warship carries out the South Atlantic Patrol Task mission which “provides a maritime presence to protect the UK’s interests in the region”. The Type 42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh took over the South Atlantic Patrol Task in October 2006, replacing HMS Southampton. Prior to Southampton’s deployment in August 2005 the role was filled by HMS Cardiff, which was decommissioned on return to the UK.
The Falkland Islands Patrol ship was formerly a Castle class vessel. In 2007 HMS Clyde relieved HMS Dumbarton Castle and HMS Leeds Castle. It is planned that she will stay permanently in the South Atlantic until 2012.
The Royal Navy also has Swiftsure and Trafalgar class attack submarines that it can deploy to the area, though such deployments are classified. The threat from submarines to hostile ships was demonstrated during the Falklands War when HMS Conqueror sank the Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano. The Royal Navy’s submarines also carry BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles which have a range of 1500 miles and can strike at targets within an enemy country.
The British Army maintains a small garrison on the Falkland Islands based at Mount Pleasant. The total deployment is about 500 personnel made up of an roulement infantry company, an engineer squadron, a signals unit (part of the Joint Communications Unit – see below), a logistics group and supporting services.
RAF Mount Pleasant, built following the surrender of Argentine invasion forces, is capable of accepting trans-Atlantic aircraft such as the Lockheed Tristar. The Tristar was purchased mainly for the UK-Falklands route, until their entry into service of leased 747s and 767s.
Four Eurofighter Typhoon aircraft provide air defence for the islands and surrounding territories and have a secondary ground attack role.
The VC10 provides air transport and aerial refuelling for the fighters. When a fighter is launched it is almost immediately followed by the VC10 as changeable weather conditions might make diversion to another airfield necessary. The Hercules provides resupply missions through the use of air-drops and also carries out maritime patrol. The latter is an important mission to the Falkland Islands government as the Hercules verifies that all fishing vessels are licensed; at £1,000 per licence per season this is an extremely lucrative source of income.
The helicopters of No. 1564 Flight (formerly No. 78 Squadron) provide air transport missions. The Sea Kings carry out short and medium range search and rescue missions. The sole remaining Chinook was returned to the UK in October 2006 to be redeployed to Afghanistan.
The UK maintains a Joint Rapid Reaction Force containing elements of all three services which could be deployed to the islands in the event of receiving intelligence of a specific threat to the islands.