Falklands veterans demand answers over Exocet missiles that killed teammates

The merchant ship Atlantic Conveyor was also sunk by an Exocet, killing 12. An Exocet strike on HMS Glamorgan killed 14 sailors, although the ship itself survived.

The French government has so far failed to respond to growing questions about the Exocets, which were manufactured by French company Aerospatiale and fired from French-made jets flown by the Argentine Air Force .

The Ministry of Defense has also been reluctant to ask tough questions of the French – with whom Britain signed a bilateral defense and security treaty in 2010 – or the company that took over the missile division of Aerospatiale, which is currently developing Britain’s next generation of anti-ship missiles. cruise missiles.

Lord Tebbit, who was Employment Secretary in Thatcher’s cabinet at the time of the dispute, said: ‘It really would do no harm to the French to explain themselves as to why they thought it was not appropriate tell us about it.”

Sir Geoffrey Pattie, who was defense procurement minister during the conflict, said he was aware at the time of the existence of the “kill switch” technology. However, he did not know if the French had withheld information about their integration into the Exocets.

He said: “If there were any restrictions on what the British told the French at the time, I think it would be helpful – for historical accuracy, if nothing else – for them to reveal that. .”

Many weapons manufacturers included secret “kill switches” in weapons, so they could deactivate them if they fell into the hands of a hostile state and turned against them. British officials suspected at the time of the Falklands War that France was unwilling to admit their existence, as that would have deterred potential buyers of the missiles.

Some even claimed that the French were keen for the Exocets to prove their effectiveness in the conflict, as this would boost missile sales.

David Mellor, who was energy minister in 1982, said the French should be clear, but added: “I am totally and totally convinced that there is no reason for them to feel particularly concerned by us, no reason for them to tell us the truth and there is no reason for them not to reveal it in a very Gallic way.

The survivors of HMS Sheffield and relatives of those who died gathered at the National Memorial Arboretum in Staffordshire on Wednesday to dedicate a new monument to them.

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