We're sitting ducks!' Falklands open to Argentine assault – fears of weak missile defence

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The deployment of Sky Sabre, a medium and short-range surface-to-air missile defence system, is still not fully operational. This is despite a deadline for their construction being 2020. The island is instead having to rely on the old Rapier, a short-range air defence system introduced in the late 1990s.

Defence sources have described the Rapier missile defence system as being almost “unserviceable”.

It is still not clear what caused the delay to Rapier’s successor.

However, defence sources are said to be worried that the old system will leave the British territory vulnerable to attack from the Argentines.

Argentina has recently renewed its campaign to lay claim to the islands.

Buenos Aries has appointed a minister for them and lobbying at the United Nations.

Now, Justin Bronk, a research fellow of air power and technology at the Royal United Services Institute defence think tank, has warned that the Rapier system was “obsolete” and that the “threat landscape within which Rapier was designed and introduced bears little resemblance to the threat landscape today”.

Mr Bronk warned that because Rapier’s launcher can only guide one missile at a time, it would not be able to defend itself against “multiple incoming threats”.

This is unlike Sky Sabre, which can “guide large numbers of missiles in the air simultaneously against lots of incoming threats, so it’s much harder to swamp”.

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Tobias Ellwood, the chairman of the defence select committee, said: “The Rapier surface-to-air missile has served the Army well but this Seventies technology is now obsolete.

“If you cannot control the skies, then your land forces are sitting ducks.

“All the more so with ever-wider utility of drones by both state and non-state actors.

“We cannot afford to allow the introduction of Sky Sabre to slip.”

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