Flown from Ascension - First to deploy were two Nimrod MR.1
maritime patrol aircraft of 42(TB)
Sqdn from St Mawgan to
patrol Ascension waters and act as links with the nuclear
subs. Later in April, they were replaced by some of the
thirteen plus and more modern MR.2's of 120, 201 and 206 Sqdns from Kinloss.
In over a hundred sorties from Wideawake, they flew ahead of the Task
Force, reached as far as Argentine waters, and provided SAR and radio links
and coordinated air refuelling for Victor and Vulcan
missions and Harrier staging flights. By the surrender,
some MR.2's were fitted for air-refuelling and some with
Sidewinder AAM's for self defence, but no aircraft
equipped with the Harpoon anti-shipping missile were
ready in time. In addition, R.1 reconnaissance aircraft
51 Sqdn may
have taken part.
At least south from Ascension, few missions would have beeen possible without the Victor K.2 tankers of 55 and 57 Sqdns from Marham, some twenty of which reached Ascension. Apart from refuelling each other as needed, they first flew three maritime radar reconnaissance missions leading up to the recapture of South Georgia. Then in nearly 600 sorties the Victors supported other aircraft in often complicated logistics patterns. These included (with outline numbers of tanker sorties)
They also provided cover as "Atlantic Conveyor" went south with her Harriers and helicopters.
Although the Waddington-based Vulcan B.2 bombers of 44, 50 and 101 Sqdns were due to retire from service, a number were fitted with extra ECM and readied for action. Four aircraft in total reached Ascension, the first two at the end of April to start a planned series of seven, single aircraft "Black Buck" missions against Stanley through to mid June. Conventional bombs were used on three occasions and Shrike anti-radar missiles on two, with one mission of each type being called off.
The Hercules of 47 and 70 Sqdns were trained in tactical support and based at Ascension to air drop men and urgent supplies to the Task Force further south. As 47 Sqdn included a Special Forces Flight, it may have been used for undisclosed covert operations.
RAF Gallantry Awards for Hercules missions
from Ascension by 47 Sqdn RAF
Based in the Falklands - To reinforce the Navy's Sea Harriers, Harrier GR.3's of 1(F) Sqdn, RAF Wittering were prepared for carrier service. Although fitted with Sidewinder and ECM and with the pilots receiving limited ski-jump training at Yeovilton, they were mainly used in their normal ground attack role. Nine out of ten aircraft setting out in early May reached Ascension, and apart from the three that temporarily stayed on, the other six sailed with "Atlantic Conveyor" and later flew off to "Hermes". Six more arrived at the end of May to add to the three already there.
Of this nine,
Thus a total of ten GR.3's flew with the Navy, with three shot down by ground fire and one damaged beyond repair in landing.
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