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The Argentine military junta, suspecting that the UK would reinforce its South Atlantic Forces, ordered the invasion of the Falkland Islands to be brought forward to 2 April. The UK was initially taken by surprise by the Argentine attack on the South Atlantic islands, despite repeated warnings by Royal Navy captain Nicholas Barker commander of the Endurance and others. Barker believed that Defence Secretary John Nott 's review in which Nott described plans to withdraw the Endurance , the UK's only naval presence in the South Atlantic had sent a signal to the Argentines that the UK was unwilling, and would soon be unable, to defend its territories and subjects in the Falklands.

On 2 April Argentine forces mounted amphibious landings, known as Operation Rosario, [19] on the Falkland Islands. The events of the invasion included the landing of Lieutenant Commander Guillermo Sanchez-Sabarots' Amphibious Commandos Group , the attack on Moody Brook barracks, the engagement between the troops of Hugo Santillan and Bill Trollope at Stanley , and the final engagement and surrender at Government House.

Word of the invasion first reached the UK from Argentine sources. Operations lasted from 1 April to 20 June The British undertook a series of military operations as a means of recapturing the Falklands from Argentine occupation, though the British had already taken action prior to the 2 April invasion.

There has since been speculation that the effect of those reports was to panic the Argentine junta into invading the Falklands before nuclear-powered submarines could be deployed. The following day, during a crisis meeting headed by the Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher , the Chief of the Naval Staff, Admiral Sir Henry Leach , advised them that "Britain could and should send a task force if the islands are invaded".

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On 1 April, Leach sent orders to a Royal Navy force carrying out exercises in the Mediterranean to prepare to sail south. Following the invasion on 2 April, after an emergency meeting of the cabinet, approval was given to form a task force to retake the islands. This was backed in an emergency session of the House of Commons the next day. On 6 April, the British Government set up a War Cabinet to provide day-to-day political oversight of the campaign. The War Cabinet met at least daily until it was dissolved on 12 August. Although Margaret Thatcher is described as dominating the War Cabinet, Lawrence Freedman notes in the Official History of the Falklands Campaign that she did not ignore opposition or fail to consult others.

However, once a decision was reached she "did not look back". The resolution, which condemned the hostilities and demanded the immediate Argentine withdrawal from the Islands, was adopted by the council the following day as United Nations Security Council Resolution , which passed with ten votes in support, one against Panama and four abstentions China, the Soviet Union, Poland and Spain. Argentina itself was politically backed by a majority of countries in Latin America though, crucially, not Chile and some members of the Non-Aligned Movement. The New Zealand government expelled the Argentine ambassador following the invasion.

The Prime Minister, Robert Muldoon , was in London when the war broke out [31] and in an opinion piece published in The Times he said: "The military rulers of Argentina must not be appeased … New Zealand will back Britain all the way. We are thinking of you and we are giving our full and total support to the British Government in its endeavours to rectify this situation and get rid of the people who have invaded your country.

In , it came to light that while this support was taking place, a French technical team, employed by Dassault and already in Argentina, remained there throughout the war despite the presidential decree. The team had provided material support to the Argentines, identifying and fixing faults in Exocet missile launchers.

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John Nott said he had known the French team was there but said its work was thought not to be of any importance. An adviser to the then French government denied any knowledge at the time that the technical team was there. In contrast, a then French intelligence officer maintained he knew the team was there but it was in an intelligence-gathering capacity. John Nott, when asked if he regretted his earlier praise of the French, said he thought the French were "duplicitous", and "always have been".

The Sierra Leone government allowed task force ships to refuel at Freetown. The United States was concerned that a protracted conflict could draw the Soviet Union on Argentina's side, [41] and initially tried to mediate an end to the conflict through " shuttle diplomacy ". However, when Argentina refused the U. Secretary of State Alexander Haig announced that the United States would prohibit arms sales to Argentina and provide material support for British operations.

Both houses of the U. Congress passed resolutions supporting the U. The U. The United States Navy developed a plan to help the British man the ship with American military contractors , likely retired sailors with knowledge of Iwo Jima ' s systems. In , declassified files from the Reagan Library showed that the U. Peru attempted to purchase 12 Exocet missiles from France to be delivered to Argentina, in a failed secret operation. Chile gave support to the UK in the form of intelligence about the Argentine military and early warning intelligence on Argentine air movements.

The ship left port soon afterwards, bound for Ascencion Island through the Panama Canal and stopping at Curacao en route. According to the book Operation Israel , advisers from Israel Aerospace Industries were already in Argentina and continued their work during the conflict. The book also claims that Israel sold weapons and drop tanks in a secret operation in Peru.

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The British government had no contingency plan for an invasion of the islands, and the task force was rapidly put together from whatever vessels were available. The retaking of the Falkland Islands was considered extremely difficult. The chances of a British counter-invasion succeeding were assessed by the US Navy, according to historian Arthur Herman , as "a military impossibility". Planning also considered the Argentine surface fleet and the threat posed by Exocet -equipped vessels or the two Type submarines.

Meanwhile, the main British naval task force arrived at Ascension to prepare for active service.

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A small force had already been sent south to recapture South Georgia. The first landings of SAS troops took place on 21 April, but—with the southern hemisphere autumn setting in—the weather was so bad that their landings and others made the next day were all withdrawn after two helicopters crashed in fog on Fortuna Glacier. On 23 April, a submarine alert was sounded and operations were halted, with Tidespring being withdrawn to deeper water to avoid interception. On 24 April, the British forces regrouped and headed in to attack. The Lynx launched a torpedo , and strafed the submarine with its pintle -mounted general purpose machine gun ; the Wessex also fired on Santa Fe with its GPMG.

Santa Fe was damaged badly enough to prevent her from diving. With Tidespring now far out to sea, and the Argentine forces augmented by the submarine's crew, Major Sheridan decided to gather the 76 men he had and make a direct assault that day.

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After a short forced march by the British troops and a naval bombardment demonstration by two Royal Navy vessels Antrim and Plymouth , the Argentine forces surrendered without resistance. God Save the Queen. On 1 May British operations on the Falklands opened with the "Black Buck 1" attack of a series of five on the airfield at Stanley. The mission required repeated refuelling , and required several Victor K2 tanker aircraft operating in concert, including tanker-to-tanker refuelling.

The overall effect of the raids on the war is difficult to determine, and the raids consumed precious tanker resources from Ascension, [72] but also prevented Argentina from stationing fast jets on the islands. Historian Lawrence Freedman , who was given access to official sources, comments that the significance of the Vulcan raids remains controversial.

The single hit in the centre of the runway was probably the best that could have been expected but it did reduce the capability of the runway to operate fast jets and caused the Argentine air force to deploy Mirage III to defend the capital. Of the five Black Buck raids, three were against Stanley Airfield, with the other two anti-radar missions using Shrike anti-radiation missiles.

The Falklands had only three airfields. The longest and only paved runway was at the capital, Stanley , and even that was too short to support fast jets although an arrestor gear was fitted in April to support Skyhawks. Therefore, the Argentines were forced to launch their major strikes from the mainland, severely hampering their efforts at forward staging, combat air patrols , and close air support over the islands.


The effective loiter time of incoming Argentine aircraft was low, and they were later compelled to overfly British forces in any attempt to attack the islands. Only a section of Grupo 6 flying IAI Dagger aircraft found ships, which were firing at Argentine defences near the islands. The Daggers managed to attack the ships and return safely. This greatly boosted morale of the Argentine pilots, who now knew they could survive an attack against modern warships, protected by radar ground clutter from the Islands and by using a late pop up profile.

A Dagger [80] and a Canberra were shot down. Both sides refused to fight at the other's best altitude, until two Mirages finally descended to engage.

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