Military Wiki
British Forces South Atlantic Islands
British joint forces flag Falkland Islands.svg
The British Joint Forces flag flown in the Falklands[1]
Allegiance United Kingdom
Branch Joint Service (Royal Navy, British Army, Royal Air Force)
Part of Ministry of Defence
Commander British Forces South Atlantic Islands Air Commodore Russell La Forte CBE
Aircraft flown
Interceptor Eurofighter Typhoon
Transport Hercules C3, TriStar, Sea King

The Falkland Islands are a British overseas territory and, as such, rely on the UK for guarantee of their security. The other UK territories in the South Atlantic, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands, fall under the protection of the British forces on the Falklands (also known as British Forces Falkland Islands or British Forces South Atlantic Islands), which includes commitments from the British Army, Royal Air Force and Royal Navy.[2] They are headed by the Commander of the British Forces South Atlantic Islands (CBFSAI).[3]

The maintenance of only a token military force before the Falklands War, and the suggestion that HMS Endurance was to be withdrawn, persuaded Argentina to start that conflict, assuming that Britain would not respond or be easily able to recapture the islands.[4] Following the reclamation of the territory in 1982, the UK invested heavily in the defence of the islands, the centrepiece of which is the new airfield at RAF Mount Pleasant, 27 miles (43 km) west of Stanley.[5] The base was opened in 1985, and became fully operational in 1986.[6]

Falkland Islands Defence Force

The Falkland Islands maintains its own part-time volunteer force, the Falkland Islands Defence Force (FIDF), previously known as the Falkland Islands Volunteer Corps. Although this unit existed in 1982 as a reinforcement for the Governor's detachment of Royal Marines, it did not play any part in the main conflict during the war of 1982, its members having spent the duration of the hostilities under house arrest by the Argentines after their surrender on Argentine capture of the islands.[7][8][9] The FIDF is now a company-strength light infantry force with a permanent training Warrant Officer seconded from the Royal Marines. They operate in a number of roles and are fully integrated into the defence scheme for the islands. The FIDF have been trained by the Royal Navy to operate Oerlikon 20 mm cannon and to board vessels suspected of fishery poaching.[10]

Royal Navy

HMS Dauntless, a Type 45 Guided Missile Destroyer.

RAF Mount Pleasant has its own port facility[11] called Mare Harbour, and the Royal Navy maintains a presence in the area with a frigate or guided missile destroyer accompanied by an RFA vessel in the South Atlantic and a patrol ship, currently HMS Clyde permanently close to the islands.[citation needed] In addition, an Ice Patrol Ship, HMS Protector, is on station close to Antarctica for six months of the year.[12]

The warship and RFA vessel carry out the Atlantic Patrol Task (South) mission which "provides a maritime presence to protect the UK's interests in the region". The Type 42 destroyer HMS Edinburgh took over the South Atlantic Patrol Task in October 2006,[13] replacing HMS Southampton. Prior to Southampton's deployment in August 2005 the role was filled by HMS Cardiff, which was decommissioned on return to the UK. As of February 2010, the on-station warship was the Type 42 destroyer HMS York. In late April 2010, HMS York was relieved by the Type 23 frigate HMS Portland. In August 2010, HMS Portland was relieved by the Type 42 destroyer HMS Gloucester. On 21 April 2011, HMS York arrived at the East Cove Military Port in the Falkland Islands, beginning patrol duties for the islands.[14] October 2011 saw the arrival of Type 23 frigate HMS Montrose, generating a statement from UNASUR (Union of South American Nations). Type 45 Guided Missile Destroyer HMS Dauntless will replace HMS Montrose as of April 2012.[15]

HMS Torbay, a Trafalgar -class nuclear submarine.

The Falkland Islands Patrol ship is a River class patrol vessel, which replaced the previous Castle class patrol vessel. In 2007 HMS Clyde relieved HMS Dumbarton Castle and HMS Leeds Castle. It is planned that she will stay permanently in the South Atlantic until 2018.[citation needed]

The Royal Navy also has Trafalgar and Astute class nuclear submarines that it can deploy to the area, though such deployments are classified. The threat from submarines to hostile ships was demonstrated during the Falklands War when HMS Conqueror sank the Argentine cruiser ARA General Belgrano. The Royal Navy's submarines also carry BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles which have a range of 1,500 miles (2,400 km) and can strike at targets within an enemy country. The Sun newspaper has speculated that a Swiftsure class attack submarine, HMS Sceptre, was sent to the islands in March 2010.[16] In February 2012, a Trafalgar -class nuclear submarine may be deployed to the Falkland Islands.[17][18]

British Army

The British Army maintains a garrison on the Falkland Islands based at Mount Pleasant. The total deployment is about 1200 personnel made up of a roulement infantry company, an engineer squadron, a signals unit (part of the Joint Communications Unit – see below), a logistics group and supporting services.[19][20][21]

The British Army contributes to the Joint Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal group (see below) in the Falkland Islands, providing 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD) and RLC EOD teams.[22]

There are also Rapier Missile stations and other anti-air equipment deployed on the islands.

Royal Air Force

Eurofighter Typhoon

Hercules C3

RAF Mount Pleasant, built following the surrender of Argentine invasion forces, is capable of accepting trans-Atlantic aircraft such as the Lockheed TriStar. The TriStar was purchased mainly for the UK-Falklands route; until their entry into service the UK used leased 747s and 767s.[23] The TriStar will be replaced by the Airbus Voyager or the British Aerospace 146.

Four Typhoon aircraft provide air defence for the islands and surrounding territories and have a secondary ground attack role.

A TriStar provides air transport and aerial refuelling for the fighters. When a fighter is launched it is almost immediately followed by the tanker as changeable weather conditions might make diversion to another airfield necessary. The Hercules provides resupply missions through the use of air-drops and also carries out maritime patrol.

The helicopters of No. 1564 Flight (formerly No. 78 Squadron) provide air transport missions. The Sea Kings carry out short and medium range search and rescue missions. The sole remaining Chinook was returned to the UK in October 2006 to be redeployed to Afghanistan.


Joint Service

The Joint Communications Unit Falkland Islands (JCUFI) provides the electronic warfare and command and control systems for the Royal Navy, Army and RAF stationed there. It incorporates the Army's signals unit and RAF personnel.[24]

Joint Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal in the Falkland Islands consists of 33 Engineer Regiment (EOD), RAF and RLC EOD teams. It is mainly based in Stanley but there is also a detachment at Mount Pleasant. The groups operates the Joint Service Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operations Center. The group destroys munitions from the Falklands War that did not explode at the time and briefs troops, tourists and citizens on the areas which are safe and the minefield marking which have been put in place.[22][25]

Augmentation forces

The UK maintains a Joint Rapid Reaction Force containing elements of all three services which could be deployed to the islands in the event of receiving intelligence of a specific threat to the islands.


The estimated Sterling figure (FY04/05) was £365 million which came from the UK defence budget. This equates to a US$ figure (FY04/05) of $657 million and as a percent of British GDP (2004) amounts to approximately 0.03%.[citation needed]


The following have served as Commander British Forces Falkland Islands/South Atlantic Islands:

See also


  1. Flags of the World. "Falkland Islands". Retrieved 23 September 2006. 
  2. Permanent Joint Headquarters. "British Forces South Atlantic Islands". Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  3. Falkland Islands Information Portal. "Acronyms". Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  4. Britain's Small Wars. "The Falklands War". Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  5. 43.28 km in Map Crow Travel Distance Calculator
  6. Falkland Islands Government. "Defence". Archived from the original on 5 May 2006. Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  7. Falkland Islands Information Portal. "Falkland Islands Defence Force: 150 years of Voluntary Service". Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  8. Land Forces of Britain, the Empire and Commonwealth. "Falkland Islands Defence Force". Archived from the original on 27 May 2006. Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  9. Falkland Islands Rifle Association. "History". Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  10. Defense & Security Intelligence & Analysis: IHS Jane's – Special Forces (Land) (Falkland Islands)
  11. Falkland Islands Portal. "Defence". Archived from the original on 26 April 2006. Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  12. Michael Powell. HMS Protector will be Endurance replacement. The News. Portsmouth, 11 January 2011
  13. MOD. "HMS Edinburgh News". Archived from the original on 1 November 2006. Retrieved 6 November 2006. 
  14. [1][dead link]
  15. "HMS Dauntless destroyer deployed to Falklands by navy". BBC News. 31 January 2012. 
  16. Duncan Larcombe; John Kay (17 March 2010). "Navy sends attack sub to Falklands". London: News International. Retrieved 25 April 2010. "A Royal Navy attack submarine has been sent to boost security around the Falkland Islands – as speculation mounts that drillers have found oil there, The Sun can reveal." 
  17. Williams, David; Drury, Ian. "Nuclear sub on Falklands patrol... as the flames of fury continue in Argentina". Daily Mail. London. 
  18. [2][dead link]
  19. British Army. "Falkland Islands". Archived from the original on 15 June 2006. Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  20. Royal Logistic Corps. "Falkland Islands". Archived from the original on 17 January 2006. Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  21. Ministry of Defence. "Falkland Islands HIVE". Retrieved 19 June 2006. [dead link]
  22. 22.0 22.1 Royal Engineers. "Joint Services Explosive Ordnance Disposal in the Falkland Islands". Archived from the original on 11 June 2006. Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  23. Royal Air Force. "Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands". Retrieved 19 June 2006. 
  24. Royal Corps of Signals. "Falkland Islands". Retrieved 19 June 2006. [dead link]
  25. Landmines in the Sand: The Falkland Islands, by Juan Carlos Ruan and Jill E. Macheme (5.2)
  26. General Sir Peter de la Billiere
  27. AROUND THE WORLD – Falkland Islands Mark 4th Anniversary of War –
  28. [3][dead link]
  29. News – Latest breaking UK news – Telegraph
  30. [4][dead link]
  31. [5][dead link]
  32. Falklands' Executive Council Members Elected – Falkland Islands News
  33. Falklands' Executive Council Members Elected – Falkland Islands News
  34. Penguin News Update. — MercoPress
  35. [6][dead link]
  36. Falklands’ veteran, Commander of British Forces South Atlantic Islands — MercoPress
  37. New Falklands’ British Forces commander played key role in UK 2009 floods’ rescue operations — MercoPress

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