What was the impact of the last Exocet attack by the Argentineans?
‘This was the last Exocet attack by the Argentineans, which although skilfully executed, was rendered impotent by RN antiaircraft fire. Skyhawk pilots later confused the hulk of the Atlantic Conveyor, sunk on 25 May, for HMS Invincible, and subsequently attacked it, thinking it a victim of the more recent attack’ 15.
Brigadier-General Crespo, commander of ‘FAS,’ was quite limited in the placement of the 122 Argentinian aircraft 16. Argentine had issues with their southern air bases as they were not sufficient for large-scale air mobilization due to either underdevelopment, lack of facilities or the distance from the theatre of operation 17. Because of these underlying issues, Crespo had to use civilian airfields in the Santa Cruz province to supplement for the lack of military airfields. Another issue that Crespo was worried about was the threat from Chilean side. Due to the aggressiveness over the Chilean Beagle Channel Islands, there has been a lot of tension between Santiago and Buenos Aires. Because of this, the majority of operational FAA’s airfields have been built in the northern part of Argentina to protect them from the Chilean threat 18. Argentina was fully aware of the good relationship between London and Santiago; this meant a possibility for an alliance between Britain and Chile hence the strategy for defense against Chile was a top priority through the conflict 19.
Britain was fearful over the Exocet missiles that Argentina has acquired from French in the past, their fears came to reality when two Exocet missiles have struck British HMS Sheffield on 4th of May and Supply Ship Atlantic Conveyor on 25th of May 20. After that success, Argentina has tried to get more missiles from anyone who was willing to sell it to them. One potential place to acquire them from was Peru as they have ordered some from French, but due to the suspicion that these missiles will end up in Argentina’s hands French have delayed the delivery 21. Since the war started, there has been an arms embargo placed onto Argentina, and it was near enough impossible for them to acquire more missiles. There were a few countries that attempted to aid the junta; these were countries such as Iran, Lybia, South Africa, Peru, Venezuela, and Israel. Defence Minister, Sir John Nott, had a plan how to counter that by authorizing agencies to outbid anyone on the international market who tried to purchase further Exocet missiles so that Argentina could not get hold of any further deliveries 22.