Sea-Based Air Power and Maritime Expeditionary Operations: U.K. Limited Naval Aviation Capability in the 1982 Falklands War
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AbstractFollowing Argentina’s seizure of the Falkland Islands and South Georgia on 2 and 3 April 1982, the United Kingdom’s military response to reclaim these overseas territories was the launching of a large maritime expeditionary operation extending over 8,000 miles into the harsh South Atlantic. As part of this challenging military undertaking, an extensive naval Task Force was assembled and despatched to the theatre of operations. Since the greatest threat to the Task Force would come from the numerically superior Argentine aircraft based on the South American mainland, air power would play a critical role in the successful prosecution of Operation Corporate. However, geography precluded the continuous and effective involvement by land-based aircraft of the Royal Air Force in the South Atlantic. Therefore, the task of providing the U.K.’s maritime expeditionary operation with the requisite air power fell to a small number of carrier-based fixed-wing aircraft. In total, 28 Sea Harriers of the RN’s Fleet Air Arm and ten Harrier GR.3s of the RAF carried aboard two small, non-fleet aircraft carriers were called upon to support Operation Corporate. By 14 June 1982, Argentine forces on the Falklands surrendered to the U.K., thus bringing to a close a unique military campaign at the bottom of the world. This thesis argues that, despite its inability to achieve permanent air supremacy or superiority, RN and RAF sea-based air power during the 1982 Falklands War was nevertheless a crucial contributing factor in the victory over Argentina due to its effective support of the U.K.'s maritime expeditionary operation.
CitationReumkens, B. J. (2014). Sea-Based Air Power and Maritime Expeditionary Operations: U.K. Limited Naval Aviation Capability in the 1982 Falklands War (Unpublished master's thesis). University of Calgary, Calgary, AB. doi:10.11575/PRISM/27718
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