The 601st Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group (GAA 601 or Grupo de Artilleria Antiaerea 601), historically known as GADA 601 (Grupo de Artilleria de Defensa Aerea 601) is the main anti-aircraft artillery unit of the Argentine Army. Its headquarters are based just north of Mar del Plata. Its name was changed to GAA 601 Teniente General Pablo Ricchieri in 1999. The force played a key role during the 1982 Falklands War. The unit is the main air defence training center of Argentina.
The origin of the anti-aircraft artillery of the Argentine Army dates back to 1939, when the Grupo de Artilleria Antiaerea was established in Campo de Mayo, the main headquarters of the army, along with the Centro de Instruccion Antiaereo, a training unit.
Meanwhile, the authorities of the resort town of Mar del Plata were seeking the settling of an army base there. In 1940, a local independent commission, under the auspices of Juan Fava and Rufino Inda, both of them former socialist Mayors of the city, made a formal request to the Ministry of War. Incidentally, the socialists ruled Mar del Plata during the two major combat deployments in the unit's history (1962 and 1982), although the country was under a military dictatorship in both occasions. By the end of 1944 the two anti-aircraft groups were merged and effectively transferred to Mar del Plata, under the name of Escuela Antiaerea.
The first AAA weapons deployed were 76.2 mm Skoda guns and 20 mm cannons.
Several years later, between 1949 and 1962, the army purchased Bofors 40 mm guns and 90 mm guns. During 1951, the first long-range radar, a Westinghouse, was imported from the US. The group changed its name from Training Center of Air Defense (CIADA) to Artillery Battalion of Air Defense 601 (GADA 601) in 1964. Its first commander was Lieutenant Colonel Esteban Rodriguez. The GADA was composed of batteries, each one divided in three sections. The section, led by a 2nd Lieutenant, usually comprised two artillery pieces. In 1968, a new sub-unit, Battery "C", was established, incorporating new material like the 40 mm L 70 Bofors-Contraves radar-guided system.
The first missile Battery was equipped with Tigercat triple launchers in 1970.
In 1980, after a border crisis with Chile, the army acquired the 35 mm Oerlikon-Contraves radar-guided system. Furthermore, a new unit had been added to the GADA in 1976, the AADA 602, to deal first with the Tigercats and some years later with Roland-2 missiles.
After losing half of the 35 mm systems and one of the four Rolands in the war of 1982, the group was reinforced with 40 mm Bofors and 30 mm Hispano-Suiza guns.
Political unrest (19551978)
From the second term in office of Juan Peron to the dictatorships of the 1970s, there were several periods of political unrest and violence involving the military. Argentina witnessed the overthrowing of constitutional governments followed by sporadic clashes between rival factions of the armed forces and the surge of leftists militant organizations. The GADA took part on a number of these incidents:
1955: Revolucion Libertadora. During the last days of Peronism in power, following a huge purge on its ranks, the Army became the only force inside the military with a majority of officers supporting Peron. This was also the case of the GADA. There was a first ill-fated attempt against the government, led mostly by the Navy, on 16 June, when rebel aircraft mounted a series of air strikes around Plaza de Mayo, killing nearly 350 people. In Mar del Plata, the group kept a close watch on the naval base, taking positions on the hills surrounding the port. Eventually, the uprising succeeded on 16 September. This time, the attitude of the GADA officers was more hesitant. During the morning of the 19, the cruiser ARA 9 de Julio (former ) and five destroyers shelled the group headquarters, already abandoned by the troops. A long range radar tower and other equipment was destroyed. The commander changed sides shortly after this action.
1962: After the fall of President Arturo Frondizi and his replacement by a puppet civilian government under the supervision of the armed forces, the military remained divided over the issue of the banning of some political parties. While there was a wide consensus on the proscription of leftist ideologists, things became not so clear regarding peronism. The hard-line group was dubbed colorados (the purples), and the "legalist" - against an indiscriminate ban - azules (the blues).
In September 1962, the army's command in chief and the Ministry of Defence were controlled by the colorados. An internal uprising started inside the army on September 18, when the azules, commanded by General Ongania defied the central authority. President Jose Maria Guido remained neutral. On 22 September, the units involved marched to the capital. One of these was a 27 Sherman tanks strong column departed from their base at Magdalena, south east of La Plata. The Commander in Chief sat up a roadblock near Florencio Varela, a city in the midway between Buenos Aires and La Plata. Excerpts from Yo fui testigo magazine, 1986 The GADA was called to duty to reinforce the position owing to the anti-tank capabilities of the 90 mm. The post was overpassed by the armored column, but according to Colonel Federico de la Fuente, the group commander, the 90 mm fire disabled between 4 to 5 tanks.La Capital newspaper, 23 September 1962 After a full day of clashes, the crisis ended with the dismissal Commander in Chief and the Minister of Defence. Ongania claimed victory for the azules and their "constitutional" point of view. However, he would took the presidential seat from president Arturo Illia by a coup d'etat in 1966. Excerpts from Yo fui testigo magazine, 1986
19701978: The Dirty War. Amid leftist violence and social unrest, the military engaged in an indiscriminate repression along this period. The first significant GADA activity was the deployment, in 1975, of a full battery of light anti-aircraft guns in Tucuman province, which by the time was the scenario of a rough counterinsurgency campaign against the ERP. The guns were intended to deal with the alleged presence of a helicopter Hiller 1100 stolen by the guerrillas from a Government-owned company. The conflict struck home in March 1976, when a splinter organisation of the ERP ambushed and killed the GADA commander in Mar del Plata's downtown. A few days later, the military overthrew the government of Isabel Peron. The coup gave them the complete control of the country and started the most vicious dictatorship in Argentina's history. The group, along with special intelligence officers, mounted operations not only against militants, but also against those ideologically affiliated to them. These illegal arrests were carried out with the collaboration of the Air Force, which built a clandestine detention facility near the airport, dubbed La Cueva (The Cave). Most of these detainees became missing or desaparecidos. In 2008, former GADA commander Colonel Pedro Barda was indicted over human right abuses and eventually sentenced to life in prison.
Crisis with Chile (1978)
A dispute over the islands of the Beagle Channel prompted a conflict with Chile in 1978. On December 12, the bulk of the GADA was deployed in northern Patagonia.
The Grupo de Artilleria de Defensa Aerea Mixto 602, in charge of the Tiger Cat missiles was moved by railway to the town of Rio Colorado, close to the river of the same name, in Rio Negro province. Meanwhile, the remainder of the force continued the trip further west, to the city of Zapala, in Neuquen province. The troops then marched by route to the build up area near Plaza Huincul.
The group established three outposts along the rivers Colorado and Limay in order to provide AAA defence to key bridges.
After a diplomatic breakthrough achieved by the Vatican envoy, Cardinal Antonio Samore, the GADA came back to Mar del Plata on January 30.
Falklands War (1982)
Just before the start of the crisis that would lead to the Falklands War, the army group was reinforced when an Argentine Air Force detachment, the Grupo 1 de Artilleria Antiaerea (1st Group of Antiaircraft Artillery) was transferred from Tandil to Mar del Plata in latter part of 1981. Both forces would operate together during the conflict in the defence of Stanley airport, renamed BAM Malvinas by the Argentines and Goose Green airstrip, designated BAM Condor (Condor Military Air Base).
GADA 601 was mobilised to Comodoro Rivadavia, along the Patagonia's coast, on April 12. The equipment was loaded at the naval base of Mar del Plata on board the cargo ship Cordoba, bound for Puerto Deseado. As the ship was damaged whilst at anchor, the artillery, missiles systems and vehicles were airlifted to Comodoro Rivadavia. A battery comprising a Roland-2 missile unit, a Skyguard radar and two 35 mm Oerlikon twin cannons was left behind to provide air defence for the mainland air bases of Puerto San Julian and Rio Gallegos. The remainder of the troops and their materiel finally crossed to the Islands by air between April 12 and April 24.
The troops were deployed in three batteries , with three sections each, plus AADA 602 with a Roland-2 launcher. Each section manned two twin Oerlikon-Contraves guns controlled by a Skyguard radar. A second anti-aircraft group of the army, the GADA 101 from Ciudadela, Buenos Aires, arrived in Stanley on April 29. They were armed with 8 single HS-831 30 mm cannons. The main early warning system for the army was an AN/TPS-44 tactical surveillance radar (Alert Mk II A/O), manned by GADA 601 personnel, mounted on the eastern slopes of Sapper Hill. The main areas to defend were the airfields (Stanley and Goose Green), Command and Control centres and artillery positions. The Air Force Grupo 1 de Artilleria Antiaerea was in charge of the airport, with nine twin 20 mm cannons and a Super-Fledermaus Fire Control radar with 3 x Oerlikon 35 mm twin guns, similar to the Skyguard Fire Control radar. GADA 601 deployed one of its own 35 mm section near the east end of the airstrip. The other sections and the Roland unit were initially located in an arc from Moody Brook to the eastern slopes of Sapper Hill. The third section of B battery was transported by helicopter to Goose Green on May 29.
1st May: Opening Actions
The GADA radar on Sapper Hill was the first to detect the Black Buck raid of 1 May. Unsure of its position after such a long flight at low level over water, the commander (Flt Lt Martin Withers) of Vulcan bomber XM607 briefly climbed to gain a radar fix from the mountains east of Stanley.White, Rowland, Vulcan 607, Bantam Press, London, 2006 ISBN 0593 053915 In performing this manoeuvre, his aircraft was briefly detected by the crew of the AN/TPS-44 surveillance radar before descending once more to low level. Initially the crew were uncertain that the aircraft they had detected was hostile, leading to delays in alerting the air defence system. The air base was warned at 4:20 am local time but the low level approach of the Vulcan bomber combined with active jamming from DASH 10 ECM pod prevented the AAA defences from engaging the bomber. The reaction of the defences was therefore ineffective. The stick of 21 1000 lb bombs damaged the airport tower, scored a single direct hit in the centre of the runway and killed two Air Force personnel. Nevertheless, the airstrip was still operational.
At 7:40 four Sea Harriers from carried out a second attack from the west. Argentine sources claimed that a Roland-2 downed one of these aircraft, however, British sources indicate that none of the aircraft taking part in this sortie were damaged.
As the air defences were now alert, another five Sea Harriers coming in from the east, were received by heavy 35 and 20 mm AAA, both from GADA and the Air Force's Grupo 1. Ingress was from the north at low level. The attackers used a combination of 1000 lb bombs and cluster bombs; a fuel depot was left in flames and minore damage was inflicted on the airport facilities. GADA claimed to have shot down two aircraft that morning, one to 35 mm fire, the other to a Tiger Cat missile. British sources, whilst conceding that the reaction of the ground defences was intense, indicate only a 20 mm hit on the tail of the Sea Harrier piloted by Lt. Cdr. David Morgan. In fact, no British aircraft were lost.
Later that day, a Mirage III, already damaged in combat by a Sea Harrier was the victim of a friendly fire incident while attempting to land on the air base.
In contrast to the vigorous anti-aircraft response in Stanley, the GADA 601/Grupo 1 team in Goose Green was taken by surprise. The ground crews there were assisting a number of Pucara aircraft that were about to take off to avoid being caught on the airstrip. At 8:00, the air warning was downgraded to "blue" to allow the Pucara's departure. The anti-aircraft guns were ordered to perform a training exercise. To make matters worse, the gear of one of the planes became embedded in mud, delaying the operation. A few minutes later, three Sea Harriers made a sudden appearance over the base. The leader of the formation dropped two 1,000 lb bombs, which missed their intended targets (the airstrip and an ammunition depot). The other aircraft instead, loaded with three cluster bombs, found their mark. Several bomblets hit one of the still grounded Pucaras, killing the pilot as the Argentine aircraft burst in flames. Another bomb dispensed its load of bomblets over the tents of the support personnel; seven men were killed and 13 wounded. The other bombs started a fire very close to a stockpile of heavy ammunition boxes. Eventually, the fire crews prevented further explosions.
After a few days without air strikes, on May 4 a flight of three Sea Harriers armed with cluster bombs raided Goose Green. However this time potential targets were well camouflaged, and the air base had been put under a 24-hour full alert. The 35 mm cannons were relocated to the north and south of the small Goose Green peninsular from their original position west of the airstrip.Minutos despues del ataque recorro con el Sargento Ayudante Tarditti la posicion, buscando un nuevo lugar donde emplazar la seccion, pues mi ubicacion ya habia sido detectada por la aviacion enemiga y era imprescindible que efectuase un cambio de posicion. Esa tarde tomo contacto con el Vicecomodoro Pedroso, quien ante una propuesta mia para efectuar un cambio de posicion, me ordena desplazar mis canones a una pequena lengua de tierra en el otro extremo de la pista, en donde se encuentra la localidad de Ganso Verde, pues desde Puerto Argentino alertaban sobre la presencia de barcos enemigos en la entrada del estrecho y un probable desembarco. 2nd. Lt. Braghini statement, Rodriguez Mottino, p. 189 The raid's leading aircraft, piloted by Lt Cdr Gordie Batt, was locked up by the Skyguard system while flying from the east at very low altitude. Batt became aware of this from his onboard systems and deployed Chaff whilst breaking right so the Skyguard lost lock. However, behind the lead was Sea Harrier n. XZ450 piloted by Lt Nick Taylor, this particular aircraft lacked a Radar Warning Receiver (RWR) as it had been removed before the war to fit instrumentation for a new missile, Sea Eagle, that was undergoing trials. Unaware of the threat ahead, Taylor was hit by a second salvo from the 35 mm cannons.
N. XZ450's fuselage was hit and caught fire, losing the left wing in the process, it then cartwheeled in the air and crashed at a 10 angle. Taylor's body was thrown through the canopy and fell 80 meters away from the crash site. The crash was caught on the gun camera film, of Flt Lt Ted Ball, which showed a large explosion in the region of the fuselage that was clearly unsurvivable.
The third aircraft, piloted by Flt Lt Ted Ball, released its bombs but no targets were hit and returned back to Hermes.
The 20 mm cannons from Air Force's Grupo 1 claimed they shot down another of the Sea Harriers. However British sources have confirmed that XZ450 was the only aircraft lost that day.
The remains of Lt Nick Taylor, were buried on the edge of the airfield where he fell, with full military honors, to this day his grave is still tended to by the residents of Goose Green. The first shooting down of a Sea Harrier was a morale boost for GADA gunners and soldiers. Incidentally Taylor's aircraft, no. XZ450, was also the aircraft that made the Sea Harrier's maiden flight on 20 August 1978.
Examination of the wreckage of n. XZ450 yielded the panel for the launch of Sea Eagle missiles, British sources have speculated that the Argentines concluded that Sea Eagle had been made operational and this was another factor that kept the Argentine navy in port.
This GADA success prompted a change of tactics in the employment of the Sea Harriers: in order to avoid further losses of such valuable air defence assets and pilots, the subsequent air-to-ground operations were carried out from high altitude, well above the reach of the enemy ground fire. It was not until the arrival of the first GR3 Harriers that limited low level missions were launched, most of them in close air support role, or against high-value targets, like artillery and radars. The GR.3 Harrier, however, repeated the experience of its naval counterpart: a series of losses and aircraft damaged"Some 150 missions were flown by GR3 Harriers against well defended targets, which led to them sustaining considerable damage and further losses. On 27 May a Harrier flown by Sqdr. Cdr. Bob Iveson was shot down by AAA. On 30 May a further GR3 was hit by ground fire and, losing fuel, ditched 45 nm. (83 km) short of Hermes." Fowler, p. 27 left three GR3 Harrier operational of 1(F) Squadron by June 1 (although re-inforcements joined the Task Force later that day by flying directly from Ascension Island). To fix the problem, the RAF was forced to improve their countermeasures to continue its air campaign by increasing the number of Chaff and flares packages onboard and enhancing its radar-detection capabilities. The GR3 were also supported by Sea Harrier's diversionary missions.
GR3 Harriers in action
On May 12, another friendly fire incident struck the GADA after three A4 Skyhawks conducted a successful attack on HMS Glasgow. One of the returning jets flew by mistake over a banned zone in Goose Green, and was shot down with the loss of the pilot.
With the beginning of Operation Sutton, the Harriers GR3s of 1(F) Squadron stepped up attacks upon ground targets. This included low level strikes with cluster bombs and rockets as well as nuisance raids in which 1000 lb bombs were launched in loft and high altitude profiles. During some high-altitude bombings the radar-guided guns locked onto the falling 1,000 lb bombs and it is claimed destroyed them on at least three occasions. It is also claimed that a Roland-2 blew up another bomb in mid-air after the release aircraft successfully broke radar lock.En una oportunidad, se le efectuo un disparo a un Harrier, pero en el momento que el misil se aproximaba a su blanco, coincidio con una maniobra ascendente que realizo el piloto de la nave britanica para arrojar una bomba. Finalmente, el misil impacta contra el arma lanzada, al tener esta una mayor velocidad radial respecto del radar de tiro en ese instante. From Roland en Malvinas
On May 22, the section deployed in Goose Green engaged a strike package of four Harrier GR.3 from 1(F) Squadron. One of the Harriers piloted by Sqn Ldr Jerry Pook released chaff approximately 2 km from the target zone, blinding the radar and triggering a anti-missile alarm (confirmed by the reports of the Argentine forces under Second Lt. Braghini). Nevertheless, Braghini reports that they re-locked Pook's Harrier and fired several 35 mm rounds. British after action reports indicate that the Argentine forces engaged all of the Harriers with heavy AAA fire but that it was the Harrier GR.3 piloted by Sqn Ldr PV Harris that was subsequently locked up by a Super Fledermaus-type radar. Harris pressed his attack but his cluster bombs hung up. Argentine forces report that the air attack produced no damage but the after action report by the British indicates secondary explosions following the attack with cluster bombs. A further example of the fog of war is that whilst the British attack committed four Harrier GR.3, the Argentine report mentions only three.
On the night of May 24, the GADA 601 section issued a warning to the air base at Goose Green about the presence of a helicopter and the possible landing of special forces. Several minutes later members of the SAS mounted a diversionary attack on Darwin Hill.
On May 27, during the first stages of the battle of Goose Green, several Harrier sorties hit the Argentine advanced positions to the north in support of the assault but the Close Air Support mission was complicated by bad weather and poor communications. After making four passes, Sqn Ldr Bob Iveson's aircraft was hit by heavy AAA fire from GADA 601 35 mm cannon. The aircraft, Harrier n XZ998, exploded in the air about 5,000 meters from GADA 601's position. Sqn Ldr Bob Iveson, bailed out safely and was rescued by friendly forces three days later. Many of the aircraft shot down by ground defences were hit after making repeated passes over the target and the wisdom of the tactics was repeatedly questioned.
Direct fire on Darwin Hill
The next morning, on May 28, British troops from the 2nd PARA Regiment took Darwin Hill after fierce fighting.
The GADA detachment, unaware of the situation, observed several platoons advancing down the southern slopes of the ridge. After identifying them as British, GADA 601 section engaged with direct fire. The 35 mm bursts blocked the advance of the leading companies of the 2nd PARA Regiment, who suffered a number of casualties. C Company bore the brunt of the Argentine fire, the Headquarters section of C Company was effectively put out of action and 20 % of the Company were injured, including the commander, Major Hugh Jenner, and his signallers. The rear platoon, attached from A Company, was forced to remain behind Darwin Hill for the rest of the battle.
The last direct-fire mission of GADA 601's section targeted the Darwin school-house, a position recently taken by troops of D Company. The building, already set on fire by white phosphorus grenades by the British, was systematically destroyed by 35 mm rounds and burnt to the ground, resulting in further casualties for the paratroopers.
The British advance from this area was eventually halted on the orders of Major Chris Keeble who decided to stop the advance in order to consolidate his position.El avance por ese frente quedo frenado, evidentemente les habiamos causado muchas bajas. Braghini's statement, Rodriguez Mottino, p. 196
Shortly after the GADA position was subjected to mortar fire, and the power generator of the guns was damaged beyond repair. A later Harrier strike was inaccurate and failed to hit the GADA 601 position,No habiamos terminado de tomar cubierta cuando un Harrier se desprende de entre los cerros y suelta una bomba "beluga" sobre el canon; pero con tan mala punteria que la mitad del ramillete cae en el agua y el resto a unos 80 metros de la pieza. Braghini's statement, Rodriguez Mottino, p. 196 as corroborated by a British account of the action."Two misses and the cluster bombs the Harriers had been carrying killed fish as they exploded in the sea just off the settlement." Excerpt from Spearhead assault by John Geddes, Daily Mail, May 15 2007 The mortar barrage, however, forced the section to seek shelter. With the garrison now isolated and surrounded, the Argentine commanding officer chose to surrender the following day.According to Argentine sources, the morale of GADA troops was still high after the battle: Quince minutos despues un oficial dijo que debiamos rendirnos, y ninguno de nosotros queria hacerlo. Las bajas (por los dos lados) habian sido terribles, y queriamos seguir luchando. From an interview to GADA private Victor Daniel Urbani, Somos magazine, issue 301, 25 June 1982
The Battle for the Capital
After the fall of Goose Green, the British effort was now free to concentrate on Port Stanley (called Puerto Argentino by the Argentines). From the period between May 2 to May 28, there were three Vulcan sorties planned, but only one was carried out against Base Aerea Militar Malvinas. Argentine sources reveal that two soldiers were slightly injured but no damage was done to the airstrip.Esta mision se concreto a las 05:33 hs, sobre la BAM Malvinas, sobrevolandola con rumbo N-NE y lanzando diecisiete bombas con retardo de hasta dos horas, que impactaron a 45 de la cabecera 08, pero sin afectar la pista, aunque hiriendo levemente a dos soldados del Ejercito Argentino. www.fuerzaaerea.mil.ar Another attempt against the airstrip was carried out during May 24. A package of four GR3s, flying at very low level to avoid radar detection, managed to drop retarding fuse bombs right on the runway. They were supported by two Sea Harriers tossing air burst bombs from high altitude to deceive the air defences. The low-angle fall, however, produced only surface damage, which was repaired six hours after the strike. Argentine sources acknowledge that a Pucara and an Aermacchi were also damaged. One of the GR3s was also hit either by debris, according to the British version, or by antiaircraft fire, according to Argentine sources.
On May 25, the group suffered its first fatality when a soldier was killed by the blast of an unexploded bomblet. Five days later, a pair of GR3 was initially tasked to attack with rockets
entrenched troops on Mount Wall, west of Stanley, one of the very first strikes against the defensive ring around the Falklands capital. The air patrol was led by Sqn. Ld. Jerry Pook on n XZ963. The original target was changed for a helicopter landing zone, some distance eastward. After approaching from the south, Pook flew right over a column of vehicles and troops, and was greeted by automatic fire around 4 km from the target's area. Argentine authors assert instead that the aircraft was hit by 35 mm fire from GADA's 1st section, B battery, which was completing a redeployment from Moody Brook to a position between Sapper Hill and the Stanley racecourse, under the command of 2nd Lieutenant Ferre. Pook's first hand account recalls to have feeling a "heavy thump", which is compatible with the impact of a large anti-aircraft shell. Nevertheless, the actual target's position given by Pook in his book was too far to the west to being acquired and shot at by GADA's gunners, albeit he is not too much assertive about having been hit by small arms rounds. A British official report states, however, that on June 12 another GR3 was peppered by "AAA splinters" east of Mount Harriet, almost the same location where Pook's jet was damaged. After finding no choppers on the assigned area, both Harriers attacked the original objective further west. At this time it became clear that Pook's jet was leaking fuel as consequence of the hit. With the engine in the verge of burning out and an incipient hydraulic failure, Pook climbed to 7,000 meters and ejected some 45 NM from Hermes. He was rescued only 10 minutes later.
The next day, May 31, Stanley airport was hit by the combined action of Vulcan, Harrier and Sea Harrier aircraft. The Vulcan fired Shrike anti-radar missiles, which went stray when the Argentine radar-operators switched off their devices. The Sea Harriers dropped bombs from high level, and three Harriers straffed the airstrip with cannon fire and rockets, in the belief that A4 Skyhawks had recently landed there. A Skyguard section claims to have hit two GR3s just before the pilots opened fire. Indeed, the RAF acknowledges that the two aircraft were badly hit, but the source of the damage is unclear. The engine of the leading Harrier, n XV789, had to be replaced onboard Hermes. The other fighter, n XZ977, only needed minor repairs.
On June 1, the Roland-2 system claimed a Sea Harrier over the airport. The aircraft, n XZ456, was in a recce mission 7 km south of Stanley, apparently out of the reach of the missile, but tracked by its radar. The Argentine officer on charge of the unit, Lt. Regalini, fired the Roland despite the target being 7,000 meters away. The pilot, Flt. Lt. Ian Mortimer, climbed up, confident that he had successfully outmaneuvered the missile. A couple of seconds later, the rear bay of his jet was torn apart by the explosion of the proximity fuse, leaving only the cockpit undamaged. Mortimer's ejection was witnessed by hundreds of Argentine troops. After a 9-hour ordeal at sea, he was recovered by a British helicopter.
The GADA lost four men to a Shrike missile strike on June 3. While at least two Skyguard units were fighting off an air attack believed at that time to be conducted by Harriers - two missiles were fired by one Vulcan bomber involved in the operation Black Buck six. The long range radars switched off their emissions as usual, but the two Skyguard systems waited until it was too late for one of them. Second Lt. Huergo's section claims that them locked a "bomb" and destroyed it in mid-air it may be they hit one of the missiles - but at the same time of this explosion, another blast was heard. The other missile, mounted on the radar wave of the 1st section of battery A's Skyguard had hit its target.La pieza a mi cargo impacto una de las bombas, y la explosion fue simultanea con la del misil que volo la unidad del Teniente Dachary. El Shrike habia sido lanzado por un Vulcan que estaba volando a 6,000 metros de altura. Fernandez Reguera, p. 564 First Lt. Alejandro Dachary, and three of his men were killed. Another soldier survived the attack. Apparently the operator, warned by the alarm, turned off the radar, but the missile was already in terminal phase and struck home anyway. The bomber, Vulcan n XM597, was forced to divert to Rio de Janeiro in Brazil during the returning trip, after its in-flight refuelling probe broke. One of the missiles it was carrying was ditched into the ocean to reduce drag, but the other remained stuck on the pylon and could not be released. Sensitive documents containing classified information were jettisoned into the sea via the crew hatch, and a "Mayday" signal was sent. The aircraft was eventually cleared to land by Brazilian authorities. The Vulcan remained interned for nine days, and returned along with its crew on 11 June. However, the remaining Shrike missile was confiscated.
On 9 June, Harrier n XZ997 was hit again by shell splinters over Sapper Hill, defended by at least one 35 mm section. The aircraft wings and upper fuselage were holed in several places, and the Harrier suffered a minor hydraulic failure on recovery.
During a naval bombardment against Sapper Hill, on the early morning of June 12, the GADA's main radar was damaged and another soldier was killed.
In what may have been the last GADA 601 success in this war, Harrier n XW919 was hit by shrapnel and seriously damaged on June 12, while dropping CBUs on an artillery position near Sapper Hill. During the recovery, the aircraft caught fire on Hermes flight deck, owing to a fractured reaction pipe. Argentine sources claim that the aircraft was hit by AAA immediately after the attack. A 155 mm howitzer was lightly damaged and six soldiers injured. The account mistakes the CBUs for rockets.En uno de esos ataques -12 de Junio- el enemigo en vuelo rasante (150 mts. del suelo) descargo todos sus cohetes sobre el canon: resultaron seis heridos leves y fue "tocado" por la propia artilleria antiaerea; uno de los sirvientes descargo sobre la maquina enemiga su fusil FAL; el canon continuo en servicio. Rodriguez Mottino, p. 91 As mentioned above, Sapper Hill was defended by at least one GADA section. After being patched up, the aircraft was declared out of service and shipped to Britain on board MV Contender Bezant. The Harrier gone through extensive repairs and, though still operational, it was eventually transferred to the SFDO (School of Flight Deck Operations) at Culdrose. This Harrier is now on display at the Defence College of Shrivenham.
In the final hours of the war, the western most section of the group took part of the battle of Wireless Ridge, supporting the withdrawal of the Regiment of Infantry 7 with 35 mm fire.
After the Argentine capitulation, the group's 35 mm Oerlikon guns, abandoned and disabled by their operators, were captured by British forces. The weapons were refurbished and used to form a Royal Auxiliary Air Force squadron at RAF Waddington. Four Skyguard radar units are employed by RAF Police to survey UK military flights over residential areas and to give warning of low-flying aircraft on sensitive facilities since 1993.
The bulk of the group's personnel left the Islands on 17 June 1982. The officers were released a month later.
Enemy aircraft shot down or disabled by GADA 601
Direct fire support
After the war, the group took part in several UN peacekeeping missions since 1992 with a contingent of 200 troops. The main peacekeeping operation involving the GADA was UNPROFOR. The GADA was under the command of the Batallon Ejercito Argentino (BAE), deployed in Western Slavonia from February 1992 to November 1995. About 70 officers and NCOs of the force also joint the Fuerza de Tareas Argentina (FTA) in Cyprus.
As part of an Army reform, the GADA 101 was moved from Ciudadela and merged into the GADA 601 in 1999. The joint force was renamed Grupo de Artilleria Antiaerea 601 Teniente General Pablo Ricchieri.
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Official website of the GAA 601
History of GADA/GAA 601, in the Argentine Army Artillery official site
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article GADA 601