Navy chiefs have sent HMS Dragon, a Type 45 destroyer, to the South Atlantic after a deployment in Chile.
Last night naval sources said the move was part of the MoD’s effort to speed up the “operational drumbeat” by which the Navy keeps guard over the Falklands.
With Argentina attempting to lease 12 supersonic bombers from Russia, the MoD is also to install a new £200million air defence missile system in the islands.
This will replace the ageing Rapier missile batteries which were used against the Argentine air force in the 1982 Falklands War.
However, it will take at least five years before the new system completes development trials and combat evaluations, leaving commanders with a capability gap during the remaining eight months of Argentine president Cristina de Kirchner’s term in office.
Ms de Kirchner, who has repeatedly demanded sovereignty over the islands, has been negotiating with Russia’s President Putin to lease 12 long-range SU-24 supersonic, all-weather attack bombers.
Such a deal would significantly enhance Argentina’s air force. Whitehall expects Argentina’s interest in the islands to wane in response to the drop in oil prices but activists in the South American country remain committed to their campaign to claim the Falklands as their own.
The issue of the islands was “firmly off the table” during David Cameron’s otherwise successful two days of talks in Washington with President Barack Obama.
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