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Rio Grande Airbase 1982

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Rio Grande Airbase 1982

Old 6th Aug 2021, 19:36
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Rio Grande Airbase 1982

Just finished reading Rowland White's excellent 'Harrier 809' which I can thoroughly recommend. In it, he alludes to the harsh and difficult operation conditions at Rio Grande Airbase in Argentina during the Falklands/ Malvinas conflict. I've also seen this briefly mentioned in other publications, however none specifically state how and why conditions were so difficult. It was an operational base in 1982 and although the Super Etendards had deployed from their home base to Rio Grande, it would be the equivalent of Typhoons from Coningsby deploying to Leuchars (i.e. some logistics involved but basically deploying to another fast jet base). Climate wise, April to June is Autumn with Temperatures around zero degrees C.

Can anyone elaborate how and why operations at Rio Grande were deemed to be so harsh and difficult in 1982?
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 20:45
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For the answer Wiki is your friend. Google Rio Grande Airbase, and then read the page on Op Mikado. It will give you a good idea of the weather factor and other factors as to why RG was unsuitable.
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 23:18
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6 seasons in a day.....
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Old 7th Aug 2021, 23:51
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I deployed to Stanley flying F4s in October 1982. I remember coming off 24 hr QRA (18 hours off subsequently) and getting onto the accommodation cruise ship the Rangatira (Rangatraz) where the upper lounge was the officers mess. I looked out of the window and could not see a thing - not even the sea below. I walked to the bar for a beer and walked back to the window - no more than 5 minutes. I could see for miles - a very beautiful view over Falkland Sound. This went on for hours (the view and lack of - not the beer). Flying ops in those conditions was very tricky especially when your nearest diversion was in Chile (where the weather was just as bad). Minimum fuel state = 6000lb. Max landing fuel weight = 8000lb. Which is why we had the Hercules tanker always airborne and what a good job they did.

Six seasons in a single day indeed!

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Old 8th Aug 2021, 02:51
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I am writing a book about Super Étendard ops during the 1982 war and I have some very interesting conversations with some pilots and, also, with Commander Alfredo Dabini, the Hermes Quijada Naval Air Base commander (located at Rio Grande, Tierra del Fuego).

The Argentine naval aviation deployed to the base every year and have large hangars and heated accomodations. Also, the base had (now is not longer used) a large underground bunker for Command & Control.

But the base have only one runway, almost always wet and sometimes with ice. The climate was very cold and humid (and, of course, you have the six seasons problem...). Tierra del Fuego was not really a developed area, so the logistic tail went up to Comodoro Rivadavia, Espora or Buenos Aires.

So, the base had their up and lows. But, really, for an Argentine Naval pilot in 1982, Hermes Quijada was a well-known place and I did not hear big complains about it.
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Old 8th Aug 2021, 08:59
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In operating terms it can't have been much different from Rio Gallegos or (over the border) Punta Arenas.

Given that the Argentinian's were always ready for a war with Chile over the Beagle Channel I'd bet it was pretty well known and equipped for operations. Yes the logistics tail was long but operating would be challenging rather than "harsh" - a diversion is the main issue - pretty much the same +220kms to PA or RG
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Old 9th Aug 2021, 17:20
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Smile

Originally Posted by The Flying Stool View Post
Just finished reading Rowland White's excellent 'Harrier 809' which I can thoroughly recommend. In it, he alludes to the harsh and difficult operation conditions at Rio Grande Airbase in Argentina during the Falklands/ Malvinas conflict. I've also seen this briefly mentioned in other publications, however none specifically state how and why conditions were so difficult. It was an operational base in 1982 and although the Super Etendards had deployed from their home base to Rio Grande, it would be the equivalent of Typhoons from Coningsby deploying to Leuchars (i.e. some logistics involved but basically deploying to another fast jet base). Climate wise, April to June is Autumn with Temperatures around zero degrees C.

Can anyone elaborate how and why operations at Rio Grande were deemed to be so harsh and difficult in 1982?
If you enjoyed the 809 Squadron book I might also suggest Special Force Pilot by Richard Hutchings. A great read and talks about some of the weather challenges on the mainland with the insertion of the Special Forces team.

As others point out the weather in that area is extreme, and unpredictable, Your analogy of going from one major RAF base to another does not really compare from going between two small, austere bases, along miles of minor roads and having to drive through a non-friendly neighbor just to get there (unless you count the locals in Fife as non-friendlies )
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Old 9th Aug 2021, 18:56
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Originally Posted by sandiego89 View Post
If you enjoyed the 809 Squadron book I might also suggest Special Force Pilot by Richard Hutchings. A great read and talks about some of the weather challenges on the mainland with the insertion of the Special Forces team.

As others point out the weather in that area is extreme, and unpredictable, Your analogy of going from one major RAF base to another does not really compare from going between two small, austere bases, along miles of minor roads and having to drive through a non-friendly neighbor just to get there (unless you count the locals in Fife as non-friendlies )
Is a “Special Forces Pilot” also known as a”Pilot”? Asking for a friend.
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Old 10th Aug 2021, 02:51
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Is a “Special Forces Pilot” also known as a”Pilot”? Asking for a friend
You need to find a better class of friend.
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