UK minister: Britain to add helicopters, communications system to Falklands Islands defenses



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LONDON — Britain plans to add two transport helicopters and an enhanced communications system to its defense systems in the disputed Falklands Islands.

Defense Secretary Michael Fallon said Tuesday that the helicopters would allow Britain to react quickly and decisively to any incidents.

He told Parliament that a regular review of the Falklands' defenses concluded that systems in place were "broadly proportionate" to the perceived threat.

The islands are claimed by both Britain and Argentina. The two countries fought over the remote South Atlantic islands in 1982 after Argentina mounted an invasion.

Britain plans to spend roughly 180 million pounds ($268 million) in the next decade to improve defense systems and other facilities on the islands.

Fallon also told BBC Radio that press reports about a possible lease of Russian bombers to Argentina are unconfirmed but that Britain must be ready to meet any potential threat.

Late Tuesday, Argentina's ministry of foreign affairs characterized the military buildup as unnecessary and lamented that Britain didn't appear to be interested in negotiating a peaceful solution to the longstanding dispute.

"Besides being implausible, it is absolutely unjustifiable that the ghost of the supposed 'Argentina threat' is used to increase the British military budget and consolidate the growing militarization of the islands," a statement from the ministry said.

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