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Subject: Argentine Air Force vs. RAF
AchtungLagg    3/17/2004 7:37:09 PM
During the Falklands war, did the Argentine do anything of note against the RAF? Any kills? Any cohesive threat/challenge to the RAF? (excuse my ignorance, i would very much like to know)
 
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Desert Rat    RE:Argentine Air Force vs. RAF   3/18/2004 2:11:48 AM
No RAF aircraft other than a few transport helicopters participated in the Falkland conflict. The air war was won by Harriers in the Fleet Air Arm. They got about 20+ kill on Argentine jets for 0 combat losses, not bad for a subsonic jet designed for ground support, eh?
 
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Aussiegunner    RE:Argentine Air Force vs. RAF   3/18/2004 4:35:45 AM
"No RAF aircraft other than a few transport helicopters participated in the Falkland conflict." That is incorrect. The RAF used its GR-1's for ground attack missions and they were trained and equiped for air superiority, but wer not needed. They also sent Vulcans, Nimrods, Victor tankers and Herc's into the war zone, apart from the transport helos. As for the air to air kills, yes, the Sea Harriers got over 20 against Argentine types. The only Argentine air kill was against a Westland Scout, by a Pucura. It was noted by a British helo pilot that the Pucuras could have seriously compromise the op, if aggressively in the anti-helo role. Just as well the Argies didn't think of this, hey.
 
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DragonReborn    RE:Argentine Air Force vs. RAF   3/18/2004 6:03:17 AM
A great resource for information on the Falklands can be found at http://www.naval-history.net/NAVAL1982FALKLANDS.htm And I would like to reference all information I have included in this post to this site. On paper the Argentine Airforce or Fuerza Aerea Argentina (FAA) was quite impressive - According to best estimates, the FAA starts the war with: 45 Skyhawk A-4B and C attack bombers, 37 Dagger and 17 Mirage fighter and attack aircraft, 10 Canberra light bombers, More than 35 Argentine-designed and built Pucara close support aircraft, 9 Hercules C-130 transports and tankers, Learjets, Boeing 707's and a number of other aircraft and helicopters. Not all were operational The Argentines also had a Naval Aviation Command or Comando Aviacion Naval Argentina (CANA) - Includes: four operational Super Etendard strike fighters and their air-launched version of Exocet, eight Skyhawk A-4Q attack bombers, ten Aermacchi MB.339's and fifteen Mentor T-34C's in the light attack role, Tracker anti-submarine aircraft and Lynx, Alouette and Sea King helicopters. The Carrier "25 de Mayo" first sails with Skyhawks and Trackers embarked, but these are later landed, and together with the Super-Etendards, moved to southern airfields. Flying from there, three of the Skyhawks will be lost in combat, and of the six MB.339's and four Mentors flown to the Falklands and operated from Stanley or Pebble Island, only one MB.339 survives. In terms of British Aircraft the Fleet Air Arm managed to scrape together 20 Sea Harriers and later on in mid May the RAF was able to provide 9 GR3 Harriers although only 4 arrived in time to see operation. I also believe that some RAF pilots flew Sea Harriers for the Navy to start with. These 20 plus Harriers were the only Air to Air defence for the British Task force, against a 100 plus Argentine Attackers. Additionally seven missions were flown by Vulcan bombers against Argentine forces at Stanley. I believe that the Argentine Airforce of the day was reasonable sizeable and modern, however most of it was not within range of the Falklands. Those that were only had a short time in which they could operate within range before having to turn back to refuelling. Though there were some airstrips operated by the Argentines on the Falklands these were early targets for British attack. For example the Pebble Island raid by the SAS which destroyed man yAircraft and damaged the Airstrip. Therefore the Argentines were not able to effectively use their Air Force to attack the British, not being able to bring their true force to bear. The Fleet Air Arm and RAF planes would have been in a lot more trouble if they had been within range of the full Argentine Airforce. The FAA transfered many of its aircraft to southern bases as the British Task Force headed south, and by the time the war was over has lost 32 Daggers, Mirage and Skyhawks, two Canberras, a Hercules, a Learjet and one more Pucara. Added to the Navy, Coast Guard and Army casualties, Argentina will lose a total of 100 aircraft and helicopters. In terms of British Aircraft losses just six Navy Harriers are lost by accident or ground fire, and not one in air-to-air fighting. More badly hit were the British Helicopter in all, 17 helicopters are lost - five Sea Kings by accident, two Wessex on South Georgia, six Wessex and a Lynx go down with "Atlantic Conveyor", one Lynx each with "Ardent" and "Coventry" and last of all a Wessex destroyed on Exocet-hit "Glamorgan". The loss of these helicopters forced most British troops to yomp on foot across the Falklands to Stanley.
 
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AchtungLagg    Why?   3/18/2004 2:50:25 PM
Why'd the argentinians get kicked like that? seems too one sided...
 
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RM-Nod    RE:Why?   3/18/2004 3:22:24 PM
A number of reasons; the Argies didn't have sidewinder or an equivalant (a huge help), most Argentinian planes came from the mainland and only had 5 minutes to engage there targets so they weren't too keen on taking on the harriers, the harrier is an excellent close in dog fighter anyway, all of that plus superior training meant that the Argies didn't have much of a chance.
 
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Aussiegunner    Matra 530's   3/18/2004 5:11:53 PM
I have often wondered if Argentina had the radar or IR guided version of the Matra 530 medium range AAM, for their Mirage 111's. If they did, why didn't they use them in BVR engagements? Even if the Harriers managed to avoid them, the manouver would bleed off energy and set them up for a tail chase shot with Matra Magics or equivelent IR guided missiles. I have always thought the Argies should have used pairs of Mirage 111's with 530's to set up say 4 Daggers with IR missiles in this way. Given the superior numbers of Mirage/Daggers set up for tail chase shots, they surely would have nailed a couple of Harriers, even with their low-fuel state and at lower altitudes which suited the Harriers better. Given how many Mirages/Daggers they lost anyway, it seems to me that risking a few losses to wear down the numerically inferior Harrier force, would have been wise. Even without the 530's, hit and run attacks by Mirages/Daggers from multiple directions would have most likely yielded similar results. I find it curious that an airforce that displayed such bravery in their anti-shipping missions, didn't adopt a more aggressive approach in the air to air environment. The first two Mirages shot down by Sea Harriers must have caused a psychological defeat of the Argies, in relation to the capabilities of the Sea Harrier.
 
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Worcester    RE:Falklands Air War   3/18/2004 5:27:51 PM
A subject on which I could bore you to sleep! The best source is "Air War South Atlantic" by Ethell & Price published 1983. It has much better data and conclusions than the official UK Government White Paper published 3 months after the conflict, because the authors interviewed most of the UK and ALL the Argentine aircrew and senior officers 12-15 months later. They were able to tie up all the "loose-ends" (which aircraft returned and which didn't, what the Argentines were trying to do, how many Exocets they had, etc.) and produce a masterly work. It is very detailed (tables galore and 12 Appendices of data) and now out of print; one critic called it "the best aerial warfare writing since '12 O'Clock High' in the 1950's" - well worth trying to get a used copy at Amazon or from a library. I'll just take five areas:- (1) The Orders of Battle (2) Threat Reduction (3) Missions (4) Air Combat (5) Sortie Rates (1) ORBATS UK on 2 carriers: 20 RN Sea Harrier FRS1 (radar, AIM9L sidewinder); 54 helicopters from Sea King to Wasp; after the war started, additional 6 Sea Harriers, 4 (later 9) RAF Harrier GR3, and 9 Chinook helos (8 lost with "Conveyor"). Total deployed 35 fixed wing, 63 helos. Argentine: 247 (16 Mirage, 5 Super Etendard, 26 Dagger [Israeli Mirage copy], 76 Skyhawk, 9 Canberra, plus 115 light attack aircraft such as Pucara, Paris, Turbo Mentor & Macchi. (2) Threat Reduction (a) Argentina had 5 Exocets, France cut support. (b) Only 4 Super Etendards for Exocet; 1 cannibalized for spares. (c) maximum Exocet threat (air refuelled) 100 nautical miles east of Stanley. (d) Stanley runway extended with steel plates but the length was below safety norms for wet weather braking and Argentine jets could not be used. (e) Reconnaissance limited to Canberra and civilian Lear jets easily engaged by RN SAM's. (f) Air refuelling limited to 6 C-130's. (g) Poor maintenance meant only 167 Argentine aircraft available. (h) Argentine air force unaccustomed to low-level sea attacks; frequently released bombs so low they had no time to arm. (i) The 7 UK "Black Buck" Vulcan bomber missions against Stanley had no impact but forced Argentina to retain 3 squadrons to protect mainland cities; effectively, only 5 Super Etendard, 24 Dagger, 65 Skyhawk and some 50 light attack aircraft were available to cover the Falklands. Argentine/UK fast jets: 81/20 (4:1) later 81/35 (2.3:1). Note the UK majority were radar equipped fighters. (3) Missions Argentina: sink a UK carrier; sink escorts UK: establish air superiority (a) Argentina naval air had 5 opportunities and scored 2 Exocet hits ("Sheffield", "Conveyor"). UK decoys worked well. (b) Argentine air force were newly trained in low level against ships and when facing hostile UK guns/missiles refused to climb through the fire for proper bomb release; this is why 19 bombs hit but failed to explode. (c) Arg air force were at maximum range and instructed not to engage UK fighters. (d) UK air established dominance from the first contacts. RN Sea Harriers accounted for 28 kills (18 Sidewinder, 1 Sidewinder & guns, 5 guns [incl on ground], 1 crashed evading, 2 cluster bombs and 1 shared with groundfire). RAF GR3's accounted for 4 kills all on the ground. (e) UK surface weapons accounted for only 20 kills (not the 52 claimed in the White Paper). The worst exaggerators were Rapier which had 14 "official" kills with only 1 now confirmed and Blowpipe which "confirmed" 9 but is now known to have scored 2. Such exaggerations are normal in war - especially over water where the weckage cannot be identified. The Pebble Island raid took 18, 1 was lost with Belgrano, 6 in accidents and 32 captured on the ground. Note: Kills alone do not measure ground fire effectiveness; the fact that Arg pilots stayed too low, frequently missed and when they hit 19 bombs failed to detonate shows how distracting ground fire can be. The Galahad and Tristram disasters at Bluff cove show what happens when there is no ground fire. (f) 102 Argentine aircraft were lost. Of the 64 lost in combat, 11 were SAS, 20 ground fire, 7 air attack and 25 air combat, giving fixed avaition (Sea Harrier/Harrier) 50% of the kills. (4) Air Combat (a) The RN pilots summed it up best; "the Args were very flashy fliers, but their tactics were very basic". (b) Sea Harrier could outmaneuver all western fighters. Not the fastest, but the huge Pegasus engine gives massive thrust/weight; it had the quickest acceleration and deceleration and was extremely agile; it is smoke free, small and very difficult to spot on radar or by sight. The most common maneuver was the Polish Heart in which they could out-turn any opposition; they could decelerate fast to put an attacker in front but the VIFFing was never used in combat. In 1981, 801 NAS took on the US Agressor Squadron and the USAF F-15 Bittburg squadron which they beat 4:1 and 5:0 in air-to-air. Armed with an 18 mile
 
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Worcester    RE:Matra 530's-Aussie   3/18/2004 6:21:14 PM
"if Argentina had the radar of IR version of the Matra for their Mirage III's" Yes they did. The II's they had were early models and not well-maintained once the conflict started. "Why didn't they use them in BVR engagements?" Range: The Sea Harriers (SHAR's) flew intermittent sorties and only established combat air patrols (moved and changed frequently) after May 21 to protect San Carlos. Even these left little loiter time for fighter vs. fighter. "Even if the Harriers managed to avoid them...tail chase shots. I have always thought the Argies should have set up....etc." In 1981, 801 Naval Air Squadron took on the USAF Agressor Squadron (F-5) and the USAF Bittburg F-15 Squadron over three days each in two for two combat and killed 4:1 and 5:0. SHAR has a very low radar cross-section; the time it was locked-up by the F-15 radar it was close to visual range, it knew it had been locked up and it could easily see the F-15 on its own radar. Its avionics and HUGE power/weight ratio allowed it to dodge every BVR/Sparrow shot from the F-15s. Not one hit; not even close. "tail chase shot" In visual combat, the power to weight and the variable thrust give it extraordinary acceleration/deceleration and turn. It is also very small and smoke free. If you ever get behind it, it will decelrate briefly, slightly nose up; the wings mask the engines breaking the IR lock and in seconds your excessive overtake will put him on your tail. The US Agressor and F-15 Bittburg squadrons managed 1 IR hit each over 6 days. The commander of the US Agressor squadron when asked to comment said: "the Argentines have blackbirds, the Brits have hawks; my moneys in the hawks". "at lower altitudes which would have suited the Harrier" Like most jets the Pegasus performs better at high altitude up to 40,000 feet which is where they usually transitioned from carrier to patrol. You may be thinking of the low speed regime where Harrier runs circles around aeveryone else. "it would have been worth losing a few to wear down the numerically inferior Harrier force" How many do you want to lose? The Argentines were "flashy" but had very elementary combat tactics. In most engagements the Argentines did outnumber the SHAR but were trying to get in under and around the CAPS. What you may want to ask is "why didn't they provide a beter escort for their attack aircraft?" They tried, but the performance, basing and mission differences between fighter and attack squadrons made coordination really difficult. In most cases the attackers never saw their escorts. What do you do? Put the fighters down on the deck? "ana ir force which displayed such bravery in their anti-shipping mission..." Did they? They learned late from their navy how to fly really low over water but at the Initial Point when they were supposed to pull up to 100' for effective bomd release, they chose to stay low. Which is why 3/4 of all Argentine bombs failed to explode; why 19 bombs hit ships and didn't detonate. They were too low. Why? Anti-aircraft fire. Isn't it noticeable that in the one true success at Bluff Cove against troop transports Tristram and Gallahad all the bombs detonated; there was no defensive fire. They were ducking the fire. Still think they were brave? "psychological defeat to the Argies in relation to the capabilities of the Harrier" Amazing that 20 years later people still think the Harrier "impaired". I hope you believe it was/is a remarkable knife-fighter of a combat aircraft which could dodge the BVR shot. The Argentines did everything to avoid direct combat; the KNEW from us (Americans) that it was one damn dangerous fighter.
 
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Worcester    RE:Matra 530's-Aussie   3/18/2004 6:42:57 PM
In the F-5 Agressor and F-15 engagements the SHAR won 4:1 and 5:0; zero BVR hits and the previous text should read "2 IR hits - both from the F-5".
 
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Aussiegunner    RE:Matra 530's-Aussie   3/20/2004 11:40:28 AM
"Range: The Sea Harriers (SHAR's) flew intermittent sorties and only established combat air patrols (moved and changed frequently) after May 21 to protect San Carlos. Even these left little loiter time for fighter vs. fighter." Over the period of time that the British taskforce was in the AO before San Carlos, the Argentinians had a reasonable opportunity to make fighter sweeps against Harriers above the fleet. Each Mirage/Dagger would have had enough opportunity for one pass against the Harriers, which would have been enough given considerably greater numbers. "SHAR has a very low radar cross-section; the time it was locked-up by the F-15 radar it was close to visual range, it knew it had been locked up and it could easily see the F-15 on its own radar. Its avionics and HUGE power/weight ratio allowed it to dodge every BVR/Sparrow shot from the F-15s. Not one hit; not even close..... If you ever get behind it, it will decelrate briefly, slightly nose up; the wings mask the engines breaking the IR lock and in seconds your excessive overtake will put him on your tail. The US Agressor and F-15 Bittburg squadrons managed 1 IR hit each over 6 days. The commander of the US Agressor squadron when asked to comment said: "the Argentines have blackbirds, the Brits have hawks; my moneys in the hawks"." I didn't really expect that single BVR shots would actually hit the Harriers. However, they would force the Harrier to manouver into a disadventageous position. As such, it would make it more difficult to avoid a second WVR or BVR shot coming in from other fighters. I am aware of the Harrier's awesome capability in avoiding tail-chase shots. However, I don't believe that they are good enough to consistantly avoid engagement by superior numbers of pursuing fighters. One fighter mabye, but not 2 or 3 or more. "Like most jets the Pegasus performs better at high altitude up to 40,000 feet which is where they usually transitioned from carrier to patrol. You may be thinking of the low speed regime where Harrier runs circles around aeveryone else." I have read accounts(by Harrier pilots) of Harriers circling at 15,000ft and Mirages at 30,000, with neither willing to come to each others attitude. This was put down to the fact that the Harrier performs better at low to medium altitude, while the Mirages can use their speed better at high-altitudes. "How many do you want to lose?" Given how many Daggers they lost on bombing runs anyway, they may have been better off using them in Air Superiority missions(which is what I am talking about, not Fighter escort), early in the war. This would have worn down the Harrier force, making it easier for the Skyhawks and remaining Daggers to hit the fleet in San Carlos." "The Argentines were "flashy" but had very elementary combat tactics. In most engagements the Argentines did outnumber the SHAR but were trying to get in under and around the CAPS. What you may want to ask is "why didn't they provide a beter escort for their attack aircraft?" They tried, but the performance, basing and mission differences between fighter and attack squadrons made coordination really difficult. In most cases the attackers never saw their escorts. What do you do? Put the fighters down on the deck?" I know that the Harrier was a better fighter and am aware of their success against US aggressor and fighter squadrons. However, I don't think that a pair of Harriers, engaged from multiple directions by half a squadron or more of Mirages/Daggers, could have gotten away without losses. In that situation, it would simply be impossible to keep track of where all the enemy were. I have read another account, by a Harrier pilot, talking about where 6 Mirages turned up in the AO, while he was on CAP with one other aircraft. His comment was that he was very concerned, because while "the Harrier was a better aircraft, it was not 3 times better!". The advantage that the Argentineans failed to play, was that in the fleet defense role, only small numbers of Harriers(2 to 4) could be in the air at any one time. They could have used offensive fighter sweeps, to engage the Harriers in superior numbers, at any time they chose to. "Did they? They learned late from their navy how to fly really low over water but at the Initial Point when they were supposed to pull up to 100' for effective bomd release, they chose to stay low. Which is why 3/4 of all Argentine bombs failed to explode; why 19 bombs hit ships and didn't detonate. They were too low. Why? Anti-aircraft fire. Isn't it noticeable that in the one true success at Bluff Cove against troop transports Tristram and Gallahad all the bombs detonated; there was no defensive fire. They were ducking the fire. Still think they were brave?" I think anyone who flys really low at high speed is brave. If you do it amongst a dozen warships, all firing at you, you are extremely brave. Pulling up to drop bombs from a higher altitude is just sui
 
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