British armed forces order Falklands ‘super missiles’ as Argentina leases Russian jets

A British Royal Air Force Eurofighter Typhoon moves past Indian Air Forces' Sukhoi SU-30 and Mirage 2000 fighter jets. (Reuters/Rupak De Chowdhuri)
Britain is expected to order £228 million-worth of “super missiles” to provide its Falklands overseas territories with extra protection as Argentina boosts its air power with Russian-loaned jets.

The long-disputed British territory is currently under the protection of Rapier missiles, but the equipment is said to be aging and less effective.

The Sun newspaper reports that the Ministry of Defense (MoD) will purchase a Future Local Air Defense System (FLAADS), a truck-based surface-to-air missile system, to provide additional military support in the area, after it was revealed in December that Argentina would lease fighter jets from Russia.

One source told the paper that the Argentine Air Force hadn’t been updated since their defeat in the 1982 conflict with Britain over the Falklands.

Argentina's Air Force has not improved since their defeat in 1982, but they've repeatedly tried to sort that, despite being cash-strapped.”

“Britain must always stay one step ahead when it comes to defending the Falklands. Rapier has been a great asset, but it's time for a new system to counter further threats,” the source added.

The FLAADS system has reportedly been developed by defense company MBDA UK to replace the Rapier system. In May 2014 it was announced that the MoD had awarded the company a £36 million contract.

View of Stanley from the route to Mount Pleasant, Falklands. (AFP Photo/Daniel Garcia)

The FLAADS website says the missiles have the capability of traveling at 1,000 meters a second.

It also states, however, that it does not expect any of the missiles to be operational until 2016.

After the contract was announced, the MoD said the missiles would be thoroughly assessed during a test phase, before deciding whether they would be used across the forces to replace the Rapier system.

A military spokesperson declined to comment on the specific details of the Falklands protection.

Our overall military posture in the South Atlantic is based on regular assessments of the threat and the Falkland Islands remain well defended; we do not offer comment on specific operational details.”

We remain vigilant and committed to the protection of the Falkland islanders,” the spokesperson added.

The Islands, known in Spanish as Las Malvinas, have long been a source of tension for Britain and Argentina.

They have been a British territory since 1833, but Argentina has always insisted the islands rightly belong to them after they inherited them from Spain in the 1800s.

In 1982, Argentina invaded the Falklands. Britain responded by sending troops to stake their claim.

The 74-day conflict caused the deaths of 255 British troops, 649 Argentinians and three native islanders.

Tensions between the two nations were exacerbated in late 2014 after the host of BBC show Top Gear, Jeremy Clarkson, and his crew were forced to leave Argentina after driving a car with a controversial number plate through Argentina.

The number plate read H89FKL, which locals insisted was a veiled reference to the Falklands war.

The production crew insisted it was a mere coincidence.