What is the British military presence in the Falkland Islands?

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Royal Air Force Typhoon jets airborne over the Falkland Islands (UK MOD Crown Copyright/PA)
Royal Air Force Typhoon jets airborne over the Falkland Islands (UK MOD Crown Copyright/PA)

Royal Air Force Typhoon jets, hundreds of soldiers and a Royal Navy ship are among the British military deployments that remain in the Falkland Islands, 40 years on from the conclusion of the UK’s conflict with Argentina.

Tuesday marks the 40th anniversary of the Argentine surrender in 1982, following weeks of fighting.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the forces still stationed at the remote archipelago in the South Atlantic.

– Mount Pleasant

Now a British Overseas Territory, the Falkland Islands’ defence is provided by the United Kingdom.

Following the conflict a permanent military base, RAF Mount Pleasant, was built on the Falklands and opened in 1985 by the Duke of York.

(PA graphic)
(PA graphic)

The base is now the centre of the British military’s presence in the South Atlantic, with between 1,300 and 1,700 military and civilian personnel based there at any one time.

– Royal Air Force

At the heart of the base is its airfield and two runways. Four Typhoon jets are based here, and they carry out “deterrence patrols” in an effort to ensure the security of the Falklands, the South Sandwich Islands and South Georgia, according to the Royal Air Force.

A Voyager air-to-air refuelling tanker is also permanently based in the Falklands, supporting the Typhoon jets, as is an A400M Atlas transport aircraft.

The A400M transport aircraft is capable of carrying up to 37 tonnes of cargo (UK MOD Crown Copyright/PA)
The A400M transport aircraft is capable of carrying up to 37 tonnes of cargo (UK MOD Crown Copyright/PA)

An early warning and airspace control network is maintained by the British military, designed to monitor the skies above the Falkland Islands.

– Royal Navy

The Falkland Islands has a Royal Navy vessel permanently assigned to it, which is currently HMS Forth.

One of the Royal Navy’s second batch of Offshore Patrol Vessels, she is armed with a 30mm cannon and tasked to patrol the South Atlantic.

HMS Forth, a Royal Navy patrol ship, is permanently deployed to the Falkland Islands (UK MOD Crown Copyright/PA)
HMS Forth, a Royal Navy patrol ship, is permanently deployed to the Falkland Islands (UK MOD Crown Copyright/PA)

– British Army

The British Army also maintains a permanent presence, with hundreds of troops deployed at any one time to train on the Falklands.

They have a working relationship with the Falkland Islands Defence Force, a small volunteer unit comprising residents and funded by the Falkland Islands Government.

In March 2022, Armed Forces minister James Heappey said in response to a parliamentary written question: “The Ministry of Defence undertakes regular assessments of possible threats to the Falkland Islands to ensure that an appropriate defensive capability is maintained.

“Our forces in the South Atlantic are at the appropriate level to ensure the defence of the Islands.”

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