Cold War killer returns for Falklands anniversary
The multi-million pound project, which was saved from doom following a £500,000 donation by Wolves FC boss Sir Jack Hayward last year, could see fully-restored Avro Vulcan 'XH558' lead the RAF's Falklands War commemorative bombing run along The Mall in June.
The chilling spectre of the UK's past achieved fame in 1982 for completing the longest ever mission to worry a flock of sheep. The aircraft flew an 8,000 mile round-trip from its temporary base in the mid-Atlantic to almost attack the tiny airfield at Stanley, which at the time was home to a few dozen farmers of British descent. Early attacks yielded one minor hit on the runway, with the sheep population of neighbouring fields shouldering the brunt of the attack, resulting in 'significant casualties' but no deaths. As the sheep fled for cover in their tiny barn, local shepherd Brian Hanrahan came up with the famous phrase "I counted them all out and I counted them all back" before falling asleep.
The mission triggered widespread relief amongst MoD officials and politicians at the time, as it was feared that the multi-million pound bomber - part of the RAF's infamous 'V-Force' nuclear fleet, which was close to retirement after over 25 years - would leave service without having killed anyone. Thankfully, the invasion of distant UK-owned tactical grazing pastures by Argentinean forces saved embarrassment and the Vulcan claimed at least one possible human life, following sketchy and unconfirmed reports of the death of an Argentinean radar operative.
The return to flying of the former Cold War bomber is timely as it coincides with a new stand-off between the West and Russia over US plans for the placement of tactical interceptor missile bases in mainland Europe. If the situation with Russia escalates, it is rumoured that Vulcan XH558 could be drafted back into service, with Sir Jack's £500,000 donation to the restoration being nearly 9 times the total MoD budget for the current financial year.