Unit History: RAF Stanley
During the Falklands War of 1982, Argentine forces occupied the airport. The Argentine Air Force were unable to place their most advanced fighter jets at the base given the relatively short runway, and the risk of attack by the British. However, several Air Force FMA IA 58 Pucaras with Argentine Navy Aermacchi MB-339 and T-34 Mentor for close air support and air reconnaissance were based at the airport. The Pucaras were deployed against the British land forces, shooting down a Westland Scout and the Aermacchis against the British Fleet.
On May 1, 1982, the Royal Air Force started to bomb the airport in Operation Black Buck and several other raids were carried out by embarked Harriers. Through the conflict, the airport installations were attacked with 237 bombs, 1200 shells by detached Royal Navy ships and 16 missiles . However, it was never out of action entirely. C-130 Hercules, Lockheed L-188 Electra and Fokker F-28 transport night flights brought supplies, weapons, vehicles, and fuel, and airlifted out the wounded right until the end of the conflict. The Argentines would leave the runway covered with piles of dirt during the day causing British intelligence to surmise that repairs were still in progress. Craters were in fact heaps of earth placed there by the Argentines to make it look as though the runway was damaged. This deception misled the British as to the condition of the airfield and the success of their raids.
After the war, the Royal Air Force took over the Airport, renaming it RAF Stanley. The runway was extended and arrester equipment installed to allow RAF F4 Phantom fighters of 23 Sqn to be based on the Island as air defence. In addition long range Hercules transport aircraft were able to land supplies and personnel from the United Kingdom via Ascension Island.
In 1985, RAF Mount Pleasant opened and in April 1986 Port Stanley Airport returned to civilian use.