London: Britain’s defence chiefs have drawn up new contingency plans to prevent hostile action by Argentina towards the Falkland Islands.
A series of military options are being actively considered as the war of words over the islands has intensified.
According to the Telegraph, it is understood that additional troops, another warship and extra RAF Typhoon combat aircraft could be dispatched to the region ahead of the March referendum on the Falkland Islands’ future.
The options being proposed by planners at the Permanent Joint Headquarters in Northwood, north-west London are also said to include a “show of force” such as conducting naval exercises in the South Atlantic, the report said.
These could involve the deployment of the Royal Navy’s Response Task Force Group, a flotilla comprising destroyers, a frigate, a submarine and commandos, it added.
According to the report, intelligence chiefs have warned David Cameron that a “yes” vote could lead to an aggressive “stunt” by the Argentine government, such as the planting of the country’s flag on the island by a small raiding party.
Other possibilities include a “cod war” style harassment campaign by the Argentine navy of the Falklands’ fishing fleet and the disruption of British oil and gas exploration.
Such a move, officers have warned, could quite quickly escalate into aggressive action if the Royal Navy was ordered to intervene.
Senior sources emphasised that in drawing up the contingency plans they were acting out of prudence so that nothing would take them by surprise, the report added.