New crisis looms on Falklands
Published 01/02/2012 | 05:00
THE British Navy's most sophisticated warship is being sent to the South Atlantic in a move that will send a powerful message to Argentina.
Dauntless will set sail for the Falkland Islands in the coming weeks armed with a battery of missiles that could "take out all of South America's fighter aircraft let alone Argentina's", according to one Navy source.
Although British foreign secretary William Hague played down the deployment, he said the ship was a "formidable vessel".
The Type 45 destroyer is the most advanced anti-aircraft and anti-ballistic ship in the world equipped with 48 Sea Viper missiles and the Sampson radar.
The ship is in a league of its own in air defence, able to track dozens of multiple targets.
"It can shoot down Argentine fighters as soon as they take off from their bases," said another Navy source. "This will give Buenos Aires serious pause for thought."
The deployment, expected in late March, comes as Argentina stepped up its sabre rattling over possession of the islands with a ban on all Falkland- registered ships in South American ports.
Tension between Britain and Argentina over the disputed South Atlantic islands has been rising again as the 30th anniversary of the war approaches and British companies drill for oil in waters surrounding the islands.
Jeremy Browne, the British foreign office minister responsible for relations with Latin America, is due to visit the islands in June to take part in the commemoration of Britain's recapture of the islands from occupying Argentine troops.
David Cameron said the sovereignty of the islands is not up for negotiation.
After Argentine president Cristina Fernandez described Britain last year as a "crass colonial power in decline" for refusing to hold talks over the islands, Mr Cameron retorted this month by accusing Argentina of "colonialism". (© Daily Telegraph, London)