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Scouts HELARM - Bunker Busting

Updated: Jun 15, 2022

Unit/ Formation: RM Airmen

Location: Falkland Islands

Period/ Conflict: The Falklands War

Year: 1982

Date/s: 14 June 1982

During the Battle of Mount Tumbledown, on 14 June, an Argentine 105 mm (4.1 in) pack howitzer battery dug in to the west of Stanley Racecourse was firing at the Scots Guards as they approached Mount Tumbledown.

Westland Scouts from the AAC and 3BAS firing SS.11 missiles onto enemy positions around Stanley race course

As the guns were out of range of the Milan anti tank guided weapons of nearby 2 Para, their second in command, Major Chris Keeble, contacted Capt J G Greenhalgh of 656 Sqn AAC on the radio and requested a helicopter armed action (HELARM) using SS.11 missiles to attack them. As he was engaged in ammunition re-supply, his Scout was not fitted with missile booms - this was to reduce weight and increase the aircraft lift capability.

Greenhalgh then returned to Estancia House, where his aircraft was refuelled, fitted out, and armed with four missiles in 20 minutes with the rotors still turning. An ‘orders group’ was then held with the crews of two Scouts of 3 Commando Brigade Air Squadron (BAS) and Captain Greenhalgh took off on a reconnaissance mission, while the other aircraft were fitted out and readied.

Within 20 minutes, he had located the target and carried out a detailed reconnaissance of the area. He fired two missiles at the enemy positions and then returned to a pre-arranged rendezvous to meet up and guide in the other two Scouts.

The three aircraft, positioned 100 m (330 ft) apart, then fired a total of ten missiles (nine missiles hit, one failed) from the ridge overlooking the Argentine positions 3,000 m (9,800 ft) away and succeeded in hitting the howitzers, nearby bunkers, an ammunition dump and the command post. The Argentine troops returned mortar fire, a round landing directly in front of Greenhalgh’s Scout.

Other RM Airmen stories from the Falklands;

To see more stories of Royal Marines Airmen since 1911 go to the RM Geo History map and under Unit search RM Airmen

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