Argentina to get Russian Su-24 Fencer attack planes; UK to review Falklands air defenses

UK may be forced to review Falkland Islands air defenses to face a renewed threat in South Atlantic.

According to a report in the Daily Express newspaper, the Argentine Air Force is to get a dozen Sukhoi Su-24 Fencer attack planes from Russia in return for foodstuff.

As a consequence, the UK Ministry of Defense is in the process of reviewing the Falkland Islands air defenses, as the delivery of the supersonic, all-weather attack aircraft ahead of the delivery and full operating capability of the two new Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers could pose a  threat to the islands, referred to as “Malvinas” by the Argentine.

According to Jane’s, the islands current air defenses include four Eurofighter Typhoon jets, Rapier SAM (Surface to Air Missile) systems, along with about 1,200 troops permanently stationed in the South Atlantic base.

Even though the Typhoons are modern enough to deal with a dozen Su-24s, the Soviet-era twin-engined two-seater planes with a variable geometry wing with a combat radius of 615 km in lo-lo-lo profile, are able to perform ultra-low level surface and maritime strike missions, carrying a wide variety of General Purpose as well as Laser Guided Bombs and stand-off missiles, such as the Kh-31 (AS-17 “Krypton”) anti-radiation and anti-shipping sea-skimming missiles.

We don’t know whether the potential deal includes armament; still the possible delivery of Su-24s to Argentina makes the Falkland Islands a bit more vulnerable to an attack by the Fuerza Aérea Argentina than it will be until the FAA operates a fleet of aging Mirage III or A-4 Skyhawks, the same jets defeated by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy during the Falklands War.

Image credit: Alexander Mishin


About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.