Admiral Lord West, the former First Sea Lord and Falklands veteran, believes HMS Dauntless, the Type 45 Destroyer due to set sail to the South Atlantic, is essential to ward off any invasion which UK forces could no longer reverse.
4:55PM GMT 31 Jan 2012
Calling the Ministry of Defence’s decision to send HMS Dauntless, a Type 45 destroyer, to the Falkland Islands simply a matter of rotation rather than an act of “ramping things up”, Admiral Lord West nevertheless said it was “quite right” that the warship will be sent to defend the archipelago.
The Royal Navy’s state-of-the-art destroyer is due to set sail for the South Atlantic on her maiden mission in the coming months to replace frigate HMS Montrose.
Admiral Lord West said it was inevitable that such an advanced vessel would eventually be sent to the Falklands given the “horrifying” numbers of warships that the UK had been left with after “incoherent” spending cuts.
The Type 45s are armed with high-tech Sea Viper anti-air missiles and can carry 60 troops. They have a large flight deck which can accommodate helicopters the size of a Chinook as well as take on board 700 people in the case of a civilian evacuation.
Admiral Lord West said: “The Argentinians might think gosh here comes an amazingly capable destroyer – probably the best in the world – and say this is ramping things up but it is not.”
However, he admitted that the presence of HMS Dauntless would be a considerable deterrent to any offensive move on the part “of any country”.
“When it is there its ability with its viper system, its anti-air warfare system, is so incredible that there is no way that any aircraft from any country could get into that airfield without being taken out.”
The Falklands veteran also said he believed that the prevention of any attack vital because if the islands were to be invaded again, Britain would no longer be able to reclaim the archipelago as it had 30 years ago.
“The difference between now and 1982, when the islands weren’t well defended, is that we can’t get them back because getting rid of Harrier aircraft and aircraft carriers means we can’t do that.
“Therefore we have to defend them well or else it is game over.”