Britain ‘to strengthen Falkands defences’

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  • Defence Secretary Michael Fallon ‘to announce reinforcements’
  • HMS Lancaster heads to South Atlantic amid rising tension
  • Risk of Argentine attack ‘more likely’
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Britain’s military garrison on the Falkland Islands could be bolstered to deter an increased risk of invasion as Portsmouth-based HMS Lancaster sails towards the South Atlantic.

The Sun newspaper today reported that Defence Secretary Michael Fallon would announce reinforcements of troops and equipment in response to a Ministry of Defence review which suggested an attack on the South Atlantic archipelago was more likely.

A Whitehall source told the paper: “The Defence Secretary’s decision reflects operational judgments and the increased nature of the threat.

“We want the people of the Falklands to know they are uppermost in our thinking.”

According to The Sun, 1,200 troops are stationed on the islands along with a small fleet of Sea King helicopters and RAF Typhoon jets.

The long-running dispute over the sovereignty of the British overseas territory, which Argentina calls Las Malvinas, has re-erupted in recent years under the presidency of Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner.

Prime Minister David Cameron, in his Christmas message to the Islanders last December, said this year would also see the unveiling of a bronze statue of former prime minister Margaret Thatcher in the Falklands.

He said 2015 would be a year when “the British government, again, steadfastly defends the freedom she helped you secure”.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond also announced the South Atlantic Medal would be awarded to the archipelago this year for islanders’ roles during the 1982 conflict.

HMS Lancaster sailed from Portsmouth on Saturday for a planned deployment to the South Atlantic.

We want the people of the Falklands to know they are uppermost in our thinking

In 1982 a task force sailed from Portsmouth to recapture the Falklands after they were occupied by Argentinia.