BBC Documentary on the Falklands War.
August 7, 2008
I just saw a documentary from the BBC about the Falklands War. The documentary was quite short and left out some interesting parts (e.g. they even skip South Georgia completely) and of course it was very British sided. But anyhow since the Falklands War is one of the few wars after the Second World War with a big Navy involvement, it is important for warbuffs to look at.
First of all it shows that a ship is just a big target to an air plane/rocket. The British lost seven ships including two destroyers and two frigates to air attacks. The Argentineans lost nine ships including a cruiser to a submarine and a submarine to air attacks. Ships are fragile targets and they are slow and pretty big. So they are really easy to hit. With modern rocket systems – sold by China to basically everyone – hitting a Ship is pretty easy and low risk for the attacker.
Second of all the Navy is about pride and not war. After the Brits sank the Argentinean cruiser ARA General Belgrano – a former World War II US cruiser – the Argentinean Navy panicked and kept their whole fleet in port during the entire war. Navy’s don’t want to take loses. Their ships are their pride. They are far too expensive and they contain a lot of life (so you loose a lot of men when your ships are hit) and they are so big and impressive.
This draws a picture for possible future wars. First of all an invasion of Taiwan by the Chinese (Ok, this is actually pretty unlikely. But just to think about it). The Chinese are equipped and build modern anti-ship missiles and they are building up their fleet of Submarines. The Strait of Taiwan is near to the Chinese coast so the Chinese could hit everything the US would send against their invasion force without leaving their bases.
Another more likely conflict could be an attack by the US on Iran. Since the Iran-Iraq-War the Persians moved their Navy from big ships to a fleet of small and cheap boats. The Gulf is a small water way so you can’t hide your fleet – like the Brits were able to hide their carriers in the Atlantic – and the Persians control the only exit, a small water way called the Strait of Hormuz. Fast, small and cheap boats have a big advantage in waters like the Gulf. First of all they are cheap, fast and small (daaah). Thus they aren’t that easy to hit and even if you hit them it is no big loss. They are so cheap, it is possible to afford big numbers of them for Iran. So if your Carrier group is able to knock out 90% of the attacking boats they’ll still have no chance. And the Iranians are equipped with the latest Chinese anti-shipping rockets. If the US will attack Iran they’ll take have loses probably even a carrier.
But now, finally! Here is the documentary from the BBC split into 7 Parts: