The threat to Britain’s Falkland Islands intensifies as Russia is to lend/lease a number of supersonic, all-weather fighter-bombers to Argentina in return for food, as food embargoes begin to bite and Russia struggles to import meat and grain from elsewhere in the world.
The SU-24 ‘Fencer’ aircraft, a comparatively elderly but still effective cold-war era fighter-bomber has been offered to the Argentine republic after a meeting between Russian President and sometimes Prime-Minister Vladimir Putin and Argentine president Cristina Kirchner in July.
Argentina, which appears to be emerging from military defeat and humiliation by British forces in 1982 after an attempt to capture the Falkland islands, has been attempting to update its air-force but has found itself repeatedly thwarted. Britain, which has a well developed defence industry supplies parts to arms manufacturers worldwide and has used this privileged position to prevent arms deals being completed, however its penetration of the Russian sphere is limited.
The transfer, which would provide Argentina with long-range aircraft capable of carrying a heavy payload will come from Russia’s significant surplus of military equipment, and will be paid for with Argentina’s significant output of food, which Russia finds itself increasingly in need of as European Union nations and others cancel export contracts, reports The Express. Thousands of tonnes of food have been left to spoil or given away in the EU after their export to Russia was inhibited by their governments.
The arrival of the aircraft may prove concerning to the lightly-manned Falklands garrison, which is defended by just four RAF Typhoon fighters and a cold-war era air-defence system. The Royal Navy Falklands guard-ship is a small offshore patrol vessel and is not equipped for anti-air duties, as were the ships sent to retake the Islands in the aftermath of the 1982 invasion. With a range of over 2,000 miles the SU-24 Fencer could easily mount combat air patrols over the Islands in the case of future hostilities.
The Argentine government has shown an increased propensity to aggression over the Islands over the past couple of years, implementing economic sanctions against the Island and its people, and banning British-flagged vessels from calling in Argentine ports.
This is not the first time a surplus of Argentine-reared beef has caused trouble for British interests. The advent of ships fitted with large refrigerators in the Victorian era allowed enormous volumes of cheap beef reared and slaughtered in South America to flood the British market, causing an agricultural depression in the United Kingdom that lasted until the Great War.