Operation Black Buck
Black Buck One
Black Buck Two
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Black Buck Seven
Background to Operation Black Buck
In 1982, a long runing dispute Britain and Argentina, over the sovereignty of the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands came to a head, eventually leading to the Falklands War. On March 19th, 50 Argentines landed on South Georgia and raised the Argentine flag, then on April 2nd, Argentina invaded the Falkland Islands.
Although the British still retained a fairly large navy, the vast majority of their forces were at this time dedicated to NATO and countering the Soviet threat to Europe. In fact, much of the British capability for "out of area" (i.e. outside of Europe/North-Atlantic) operations, only existed because of older weapons and equipment choices, which were in the process of gradually being phased out (like the Vulcan), or sold-off (it had been intended to drastically cut back the navy, scrapping or selling off many ships).
Nevertheless a naval task force, consisting of much of the British fleet accompanied by a large number of commandeered merchant ships was quickly assembled and dispatched towards the South Atlantic. While the task force was enroute, the Royal Air Force (RAF) began to assemble aircraft at Wideawake airbase on the mid-Atlantic island of Ascension.
On April 19th, the first British forces arrived at South Georgia. On April 20th, the island was overflown by a radar-mapping RAF Victor, and Special Air Service (SAS) troops began to go ashore the next day. The British suspected an Argentine submarine was in the vicinity, and found and badly damaged the submarine Santa Fe on April 25th, forcing her crew to abandon ship. When the British then made a direct assault on the Argentine position on South Georgia, the Argentines surrendered without further resistance. British Prime Minister, Margaret Thatcher, commenting on the events, famously told the media to "Just rejoice at that news and congratulate our forces and the marines."
With South Georgia recaptured, the main task still lay ahead for the British: the recapture of the Falkland Islands against a large and well-entrenched Argentine garrison...
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