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Falklands’ war: UK deployed laser weapon to ‘dazzle’ enemy pilots, say released documents

Thursday, August 1st 2013 - 02:52 UTC
Full article 39 comments
Michael Heseltine was Secretary of State for Defence between 1983 and 1986 Michael Heseltine was Secretary of State for Defence between 1983 and 1986

The United Kingdom deployed a laser weapon during the Falkland Islands 1982 war with Argentina designed to “dazzle” enemy pilots who were attacking British warships, according to secret documents released Wednesday.

Among the confidential British government reports that the National Archive released on Wednesday was a letter dating from January 1983 that said “never before used” laser weapons had been deployed during the already-concluded war that had been developed quickly and secretly.

The letter to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was classified as “top secret” and was signed by Britain's then-defence minister, Michael Heseltine.

“We developed and deployed with very great urgency a naval laser weapon, designed to dazzle low-flying Argentine pilots attacking ships, to the Task Force in the South Atlantic. This weapon was not used in action and knowledge of it has been kept to a very restricted level,” wrote the newly-appointed Heseltine to the premier.

Heseltine also referred to the British programs to develop and carry out research on the laser weapons systems known as “Raker” and “Shingle,” that, according to the released documents, were “proceeding at high priority.”

He also said that the Soviet Union could conceivably deploy laser weapons by the mid-1980s although it was not clear whether having such weapons would truly be useful.

In late 1979, British interests were focused on using medium-power lasers against relatively softer targets such as eyes, optic and electro-optic sensors.

The 74-day Falklands War broke out after Argentine troops invaded and occupied the Islands and led to the deaths of 255 British troops and about 650 Argentines and three civilians before Argentina finally surrendered unconditionally.

Top Comments

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  • agent999

    This weapon was not used in action !

    Aug 01st, 2013 - 03:03 am 0
  • golfcronie

    Not fair came the cry from CFK, “ I gave my troops the most modern torch available at the time ” she retorted. How underhand of the Brits to do that. Anyway are lasers banned? I think you will find that laying minefields and not recording where they are is against the Geneva Convention, but heho we are talking Agentina now.

    Aug 01st, 2013 - 03:09 am 0
  • Lord Ton

    As agent999 says - not used. This is a non-story !

    Aug 01st, 2013 - 03:17 am 0
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