Falklands

Falklands: When the SAS fired first Stinger missile in combat as part of diversion attack

In 1982, SAS troops were the first to fire a Stinger missile in combat.

They had been drafted in to distract Argentinian forces from the San Carlos landings, carried out by British soldiers in response to Argentina's invasion of the islands in April 1982.

The SAS called on a specialist to fire the missiles, but Staff Sergeant Paddy O'Connor had died in a helicopter crash just days before.

File photo of San Carlos, where the San Carlos Landings took place in 1982
File photo of San Carlos, where the San Carlos Landings took place in 1982 (Picture: Stephen Hovington/Alamy Stock Photo).

General (Ret'd) Sir Michael Rose, former Commanding Officer SAS, told Forces News that British troops were "winding their way up through the open ground when a Pucara [Argentinian aircraft] appeared and started to line up on them".

He explained how, to their astonishment, a Stinger rose up and destroyed it. Gen Rose had been lent the weapon to trial on "real live operations", by comrades from the American Delta Force.

He said the new operator had to "open the book to see how to fire these things, ie straight out of the pack, onto the shoulder and fire the missile".

He recalled how he later met the Argentine pilot who was the first to be shot down in battle by a Stinger missile, "whereupon he gave me a big hug".

He added: "I guess he's still around somewhere. Small world, isn't it?"

Stinger missiles are the US military's main short-range surface-to-air missile system.

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