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1982: RAF bombs Port Stanley

VIDEO : Report on the bombing raids

British planes have carried out raids on two airstrips near Port Stanley, the capital of the Falkland Islands which are currently occupied by Argentinian forces.

The attack was designed to deny the Argentines the means of landing supplies on the islands or attacking the British fleet patrolling the 200-mile exclusion zone.

Admiral Sandy Woodward, the British Task Force commander, said the mission was a success. "We didn't want this fight but we've shown our colours and this is our day," he said.

A Vulcan bomber with a back-up plane launched the attack before dawn from its base on Ascension Island, 3,000 miles from the Falklands.

The bombing was carried out at a height of 10,000 feet under cover of darkness - out of range of Argentine anti-aircraft missiles that can only be used against visible targets.

The plane dropped 21 bombs altogether and was followed by a force of Harrier jump-jets sent from aircraft carriers patrolling off shore.

These took pictures of the damage done by the Vulcan and bombed the grass airstrip at Goose Green 55 miles west of Port Stanley.


The Harriers also dropped 1,000lb bombs and 30mm Aden canon shells to destroy fuel and ammunition dumps.

They then scattered cluster bombs over the rubble of the airstrips to prevent any attempts to repair the damage.

The Argentine force retaliated with anti-aircraft guns, Tiger Cat missiles and sent out its Mirage and Canberra bombers.

The Argentines said the raids failed to destroy the runways and claimed a British pilot died and two Harriers were destroyed.

But the Ministry of Defence said none of its aircraft were shot down. It said only one Harrier was slightly damaged sustaining a hole in its tailfin that has now been repaired.

In Context
The following days saw the air battle turn to the sea with the controversial sinking of the Argentine ship General Belgrano. The Argentineans retaliated by sinking HMS Sheffield.

Sir Tristram, Sir Galahad, HMS Antelope, HMS Coventry and Atlantic Conveyor were also hit.

After a bloody land battle, Argentine forces surrendered and peace was declared on 20 June.

More than 900 people died in the three-week war - 655 Argentines, 255 British troops and three Falkland islanders.

The Falklands War gave a huge boost to Margaret Thatcher's popularity. She won the general election the following year with a massive majority and remained in power until 1990.

Although the two nations have made peace and relations are harmonious, Argentina still retains its historic claims to the "Malvinas" and Britain maintains an expensive and large garrison there.

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