War in the Falklands Round 2
Updated at the bottom!
It has long been predicted that the struggle for resources will heat up in this new century, but haven’t wars always been about the desire for greater national wealth? Despite all the talk of the possibilities stemming from Green Fuel alternatives, fossil fuels still predominate and will likely continue to do so for some time. So we come to the recent sparring of words, at least so far, over a major oil discovery off the coast of British controlled Falklands Island that promises to make some extraordinarily rich. Just who that “someone” will be brings us to this present crisis. Here from the Times Online:
Argentina has declared that it is taking control over all shipping between its coast and the Falklands, in effect awarding itself the power to blockade the disputed islands. According to a decree issued by President Kirchner last night, all ships sailing through the waters claimed by Argentina must hold a permit. The measure seems likely to deepen a row over conflicting claims to oil beds lying inside the Falkland Islands’ territorial waters…
“Any boat that wants to travel between ports on the Argentine mainland to the Islas Malvinas, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands. . . must first ask for permission from the Argentine Government,” Aníbal Fernández, the Cabinet chief, said.
The Islanders and the British Government don’t seem to be worried over a renewed conflict, but what about the Falkland’s Defenses? According to Save the Royal Navy, the UK presence in the South Atlantic comprises “1 destroyer, 1 patrol ship, 1 survey ship, 1 fleet auxiliary tanker“. There are also a company of Army Grenadier Guards, about 500, plus 4 Typhoon fighters from the RAF. Probably the island’s greatest asset is its airbase, RAF Mount Pleasant, built shortly after the 1982 Conflict. This airfield can receive large transatlantic cargo planes and other military aircraft that should easily bolster the defenses in an emergency, barring some unforeseen calamity.
Navy Lookout also describes the deployment of guided missile destroyer HMS York to the South Atlantic as “routine” despite the sensationalist article to the contrary in the Sun newspaper. The giant and versatile oiler RFA Wave Ruler, of a class New Wars has great respect, is also in the area.
Though I am sure the following deployment of RN forces to the North Pole is equally “routine”, the Argies can’t help but notice the possibilities. From the Ministry of Defence:
Cold Response is a multi-national NATO exercise led by the Norwegian Armed Forces and directed by the Norwegian National Joint Headquarters, designed to offer challenging training in the middle of an Arctic winter…
The task group of ships includes HMS Ocean, Royal Fleet Auxiliary ship Mounts Bay and the Dutch Landing Platform Dock HNLMS Johan de Witt. The flotilla is led by HMS Albion, the fleet high-readiness amphibious flagship, carrying staff from Commander Amphibious Task Group and 3 Commando Brigade Royal Marines.
The conditions around Norway are not unlike those which would be encountered in any renewed conflict down South. Though there is little doubt the British Armed Forces has declined greatly since the 82 War, we think the deployment of HMS Ocean proves there is much bite left in the Lion. There are still the aging RN light carriers to contend with, though without permanently based and specialized naval Harriers. The nuclear submarines also must be factored in, recalling HMS Conqueror’s history making destruction of the Argentine cruiser Belgrano.
Though I would hope Britain would restore its defenses, I don’t see the continued purchase of high ticket weapons, like the giant supercarriers as the answer, but the problem. The deployment of manned naval air in this new century means placing much of your precious shipbuilding funds in a few capable, but hardly versatile platforms, which cannot be in more than one place at a time. Proof of this can be seen in the current state of the Royal Navy with essential escorts and submarines discarded to maintain funding, and still the deployment of adequate new ships and planes seem farther away. With even the USN superpower struggling to maintain their shrinking numbers of carriers with adequate types and quantities of aircraft, we think the fewer such vessels bought would spare the Navy much grief.
The deployment of HMS Ocean is clear evidence that even a small carrier strategically placed is a supreme asset to a Navy on a budget.
More–Jess the Dog is concerned over the Argentinean A-4 Skyhawks:
The Royal Navy has been stripped of the air defence capable Sea Harrier FA-2, replaced by the ground attack (and radarless) Harrier GR9 with AIM 4L Sidewinders as the only air-air armament. At the same time, the Argentines have upgraded their A4 Skyhawk aircraft to the superior A-4AR Fightinghawk which has a radar.
Update-From the Military Photos forum, I borrow the following aircraft armament info:
+ Sea Eagle
+ Sting Ray