The Refuse of War, 40 Years on
On 14 June 1982, the two-brigade-sized British Army and Marine force secured the final defeat of a reinforced division-sized Argentine military element in the Falkland Islands.
As the Argentines were quickly repatriated, sans equipment and arms (except for being able to march off with their unit flags while the officers, in an ode to chivalry, kept their sidearms) the invaders left behind a lot of gear that became the property of the Crown.
The haul included:
100 Mercedes-Benz MB 1112/13/14 trucks (Which the Argentines bought on credit and did not pay West Germany for)
20 Mercedes-Benz G-Class jeeps
12 French Panhard ERV 90mm armored cars
1 SAM Roland launcher
4 SAM Tigercat launchers
1 Improvised shore-based Exocet ASM launcher with four missiles
3 CITER 155mm L33 Guns
10 Oto Melara Mod 56 105mm pack guns along with 11,000 shells
15 120mm RCLs with rockets
15 Oerlikon twin 35mm GDF and Rheinmetall twin 20mm air defense cannons
1 AN/TPS-43 3D mobile air search radar
10 Skyguard, Super Fledermaus, ELTA, and RASIT AAA fire control radars
Over 90 (British-made!) Blowpipe MANPAD SAMs
Assorted Soviet-made SA-7 MANPADs (120 supplied to Buenos Aries in late May by Gaddafi’s Libya)
11 FMA IA 58 Pucará COIN aircraft, formerly of the Argentine Air Force, many destroyed on the ground by SAS
2 former Army Agusta A109
7 former Army Bell UH-1H Iroquois
1 Army CH-47C Chinook
1 Aérospatiale Puma SA330L in Argentine Coast Guard markings
3 Argentine Navy Aermacchi MB.339A trainers
11,000 small arms, mostly FN FAL variants, as well as assorted M1911 and Browning Hi-Power clones
Over 500 assorted machine guns, usually FN MAG 58 variants but also some M2 .50 cals
4 million 7.62 NATO rounds
The Argentine Coast Guard Z-28-class patrol boat Islas Malvinas (GC82)
Plus lots of interesting night vision goggles, thermal imagers, portable radars, EW, and commo equipment
As the FALs were select-fire metric variants rather than UK-standard L1A1 inch-pattern semi-autos, they did not mesh with the British supply train and were mostly discarded– dumped at sea in the deepwater offshore.
Some rumors persist that at least a few container loads were clandestinely given away to needy anti-communist guerillas in Third World stomping grounds but, of course, those are just rumors until such action is declassified. What is known is that at least some were transferred to the Sierra Leone government as military aid for their security forces.
Plus, the MOD was totally against any trophies being brought back home, as had occurred in the World Wars and Korea.
But what of the larger stuff?
The ammunition and Blowpipes, however, were absorbed and fired off by the MOD in training. No word on what happened to the SA-7s, but if you told me they made it to the muj in Afghanistan who were then fighting the Soviets, as often hinted at, I would not scoff.
Likewise, the vehicles were kept in the Falklands and used by the follow-on garrison with some of the Unimogs surviving into the 1990s.
One of the captured Argentine Panhards has long been on display at the Bovington Tank Museum while most ended up as hard targets for the British Falklands garrison.
The aircraft and artillery pieces were typically just used as museum pieces except for the damaged Chinook, which was mated with other parts and returned to service with the RAF.
As for the 90-foot patrol boat Islas Malvinas, she was renamed HMS Tiger Bay and used until 1986 when she was sold for scrap which is a pity as she would have made an interesting little museum ship that would have required little in the way of maintenance.