The Argentine Invasion of the Falkland Islands on 2nd April 1982 necessitated Britain's first major naval operation since Suez. Eventually over a hundred ships were employed, of which only 44 were warships, 25 Royal Fleet Auxiliaries and 45 merchant ships.
The recapture of the islands also entailed the RAF's single longest bombing mission (Black Buck), and an amphibious landing from hastily assembled and refitted merchant ships and assault landing ships destined for the scrap heap in the Governments' recent white paper.
The Falklands led to the Royal Navy gaining valuable lessons of naval warfare in the missile age, Special Forces and Royal Marines with British Army units were outnumbered by the Argentine forces, and outside of any RAF support apart from the Harriers and helicopters brought with the task force, and the very long-range Vulcan bombing mission on Port Stanley. It also reaffirmed that the carrier was still needed in the navy and put paid to the Government's ideas to sell off the current carrier forces in the Navy's inventory.
The Falklands were recaptured and the Argentine forces surrendered on the 13th June 1982. The only fixed wing aircraft available, the Harrier, was singularly responsible for allowing the Task Force to function and in restricting the damage caused by the Argentine's air launched Exocet missile