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In spite of great coverage by the media, it is difficult to get a real idea of the size of the means used by either side. On the British side, the figures allow evaluation of the sizeable means employed. Even if, for example, the number of soldiers involved was far from the number used in major conflicts, it must be noted that the distance and the isolation of the Falklands forced the English to use gigantic means of transport and military equipment. Behind the statistics and notably those of the human losses, it must also be remembered that there were human tragedies which have nothing to do with the number of victims.
The question still remains, can the enormous cost, both human and financial, be justified. Many reasons forced the British government to undertake a very risky operation but it is certain that prestige or rather maintaining prestige was the main goal.
Moreover it is indisputable that the British forces were able to show their capacities to carry out a mission which in many respects was at the extreme limit of their material means and only their professionalism and the condition of their elite troops allowed them to conduct the war in a favourable manner.
The forces present in the war:
More than 10’000 men. All professional soldiers from elite units.
2 aircraft carriers, 16 destroyers, 44 frigates, 31 submarines, 2 assault vessels, 6 landing crafts.
2 aircraft carriers, 5 submarines of which 4 are nuclear, 8 destroyers, 15 frigates, 2 assault vessels, 4 landing crafts, a hospital boat, 3 ambulance boats, 7 mine-sweepers, 11 refuelling tankers, 1 helicopter support vessel, 5 cargo supply boats, 1 patrol boat, the HMS Endurance.
The British Navy had also requisitioned the following boats: QE2, Canberra and 47 other vessels (tankers, cargoes and ferries)
34 Harriers, 200 helicopters, several Vulcan bombers operating from Ascension Island. Practically all supply aircraft and transport vehicles of the RAF were used in one way or another in the conflict.
The Argentinian occupation force was composed of 12’978 men, principally badly trained young recruits.
1 Aircraft carrier, 1 cruiser, 6 destroyers, 3 submarines, 3 corvettes.
78 Skyhawks, 24 Dagger, 18 Mirage, 5 Super Etendard, 6 Canberra, 144 Puccara, 9 Hercule C130
Bristish: 255 dead
Argentina: 635 dead
2 destroyers: Sheffield, Coventry
2 frigates: Ardent, Antelope
2 landing craft: Sir Galahad, Sir Tristam
1 mixed cargo: Atlantic Conveyor
1 cruiser: Belgrano
Several transport boats
All material deployed on the isles.
Cost of conflict:
2 milliards of dollars for Great Britain
Unknown for Argentine.
Text: © Michel Chabod