Britain's most sophisticated warship is being sent to the South Atlantic as tensions continue to rise between the UK and Argentina over the Falkland Islands.
Dauntless will set sail for the Falklands 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 Royal Navy source.
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, which is more advanced than Heathrow air traffic control.
"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 has stepped up its sabre rattling over possession of the islands with a ban on all Falkland registered ships in South American ports.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has responded that the sovereignty of the islands is not for negotiation.
Sending the £1bn Dauntless on her first mission to the area will reinforce Britain’s position although it will cause difficulties for the Foreign Office which is trying to downplay the rhetoric.
Admiral Lord West, the former First Sea Lord and Falklands veteran, said the Type 45 has an “amazing anti-air warfare capability.”
He also sent a warning to the Buenos Aires government. “Should there be any foolish nonsense from Argentina, Dauntless can sit just off the airfield and take down any aircraft coming in. It’s a game-changing capability.”
A Navy Spokesman said: “The Royal Navy has had a continuous presence in the South Atlantic for many years. The deployment of HMS Dauntless to the South Atlantic has been long planned, is entirely routine and replaces another ship on patrol."