The aircraft, which Moscow will swap for beef and wheat, would be able to mount air patrols over Port Stanley.
Ministry of Defence officials fear Buenos Aires would take delivery of the planes well before the deployment in 2020 of the Navy’s 65,000-tonne aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth and its F-35B fighters, leaving a “real window of vulnerability”.
Defence cuts have left the Falklands with just four RAF Typhoon fighters, Rapier surface-to-air missiles and fewer than 1,200 troops, supported by a naval warship that visits throughout the year.
President Putin’s visit to Argentina in July laid the groundwork for exchanging Russian military hardware for wheat, beef and other goods Moscow needs due to EU food embargoes.
The deal involves a lease/lend of 12 Sukhoi Su-24 supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft.
They are ageing but Nato still regards what it codenames “Fencers” as “super-fighters”, with their 2,000-mile range and laser-guided missiles.
NATO hardly considers the Su-24 a “superfighter” but it does consider it a very respectable long range strike platform.
We’ve opined that Argentina’s only chance to seize the Falklands again lies in a coup de main attack that renders the runways of the Falklands unservicable for a considerable length of time.
The Su-24 is quite capable of such a mission. It has the range and payload capacity to fly, approach under the radar, and strike with very little warning.
Further, depending on what munitions Russia includes with the transfer of the bombers, it could also pose a very significant threat to the destroyer or frigate that the Royal Navy keeps on station.
Whether Argentina will attempt such an attack is hard to tell. Mustering public support would be difficult. And any such attack would have to include large scale landings to actually control the islands. The land forces now stationed in the Falklands are very much more capable than the two platoons of Royal Marines that were there in 1982. At the same time, Argentina’s ability to conduct large scale landings has greatly diminished.
Further, there’s a much greater likelihood that this time around, Great Britain would resorts to strikes against the Argentinian mainland. One would hardly be surprised if Britain’s response to Argentinian aggression included a sub launched Tomahawk through the front door of Casa Rosada, the Argentinian presidential mansion.
Finally, it is hard to see this as anything less than Putin responding to Western support for Ukraine and Baltic states. You play in my back yard, I’ll play in yours.
H/T to Spill for pointing out the article to me.