The UK is weighing responses to the strategic threat posed by Argentina’s renewed militaristic claims to ownership of the Falkland Islands. Defense News has the story:
British military capability planners are eyeing a major improvement to ground-based air defenses in the Falkland Islands amid continuing signs that Argentina is looking to update its Air Force with modern strike aircraft.Argentina and the UK fought a short but bloody war over the British territory in 1982. The dispute received new life recently by Argentinean President Cristina Kirchener’s launching a diplomatic war of words in an effort to eject the British.Now it has emerged that the British have been planning to replace the aging ground-based system on the Falklands with a package including a battle management command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (BMC4I) system, a new missile and a radar.
The UK, it seems, worries that Argentina’s play for control of the Falklands will escalate beyond a war of just words. Cash-strapped Argentina has been trying awfully hard to up its air power lately. But it has been repeatedly thwarted by the UK, as happened when Buenos Aires tried to purchase Brazilian-built Saab Gripen fighters in November. As we wrote on December 31, Argentina’s best remaining shot at building its airborne capacity is to take Russia up on a deal to trade beef and wheat for of SU-24 long-range strike jets. This represents a serious threat; The Falklands are the only target Buenos Aires could want to strike with such an arsenal.At the time the prospective deal with Russia was announced, the UK said it would craft a strategic response to any new threat to its territory. This is London following through on that promise. But even if the Brits are willing to do what it takes to keep the Falklands well defended, a tense military standoff in the South Atlantic is not a sign of a healthy world order.