Black Buck & the Second VC
From what I can tell from my reading and knowledge of the matter no-one really knows what effect these missions had. All that can be agreed upon was that they were a great technical feat - but like the Doolittle Raid - it depends if you think that the psychological effects were worth the matériel risk.
It also assumes that the Argentinians had planned to use those airfields - and given the relative positions and their effective strength I wouldn't be surprised if they hadn't even considered it. Remember, we aren't talking about a air force that has 2000+ front line fighters and 1000+ bombers in its arsenal (aka Luftwaffe) for which it would make sense to put a percentage right on the front line. The Argentinian AF was small although its aircraft for the time were effective and up to date. In that situation it makes no sense to put a small number of planes on the islands, for a tiny strategic/tactical gain, balanced against the risk of loss of a high percentage of your available airframes and more importantly trained experten.
If we are honest, and I know I going to get flak for this, the British plan for the recovery of the islands could have been put together by the management of British Leyland. It had no backup plan - and this cost lives when the Argentinians were lucky or clever enough to wipe out the helicopters that were crucial to the plan... gained two poor sods posthumous VC's (yes, thats TWO, not just 'H' Jones - wonder if you can tell why the other one didnt get in the news...). If our army was as good as people claimed and still claim there wouldn't be VC's and MC's walking about - because they wouldn't have had to take stupid risks - above and beyond that they take on a regular basis - to get the job done.
We could have had three carriers - the recently decommissioned one could easily have been re-engined and re-equipped at probably less than half the price of one of the new ones. If the Italians can do it for heavens sake (see the conte di cavour class - which were so comprehensively rebuilt they were effectively completely new ships), then I am sure we can do it. Even the guy who was in command of Ark Royal III (Illustrious) seemed bewildered as to why it was being dropped on the interview...
And there is another point about this orgasmic idea for electric plane throwers - we are probably going to buy them off the shelf from the US (and we'll get the crappy *export* version into the bargain)... which means if the 'special relationship' turns Hollyoaks on us - we are going to have two useless hunks of floating metal, because without spares the systems are useless.
You know it would probably be more economical all round to put some old American carriers back into action and pay the US for them on a lease basis - with a maintenance clause in the contract on the states side... after all, all we are doing is spending money to build something to carry American planes carrying American weapons and avionics - launched by American equipment... I'm sure someone can see the common thread here...
Its wonderful that this new tech works, it has all sorts of different applications (maglev train systems, spaceplane groundboost launcher, and some other more outlandish ideas) - don't get me wrong - but its just not the bargain we are being told it is - even with the *special relationship*.