British land raid reportedly defanged enemy's air arm

British commandos reportedly destroyed most of Argentina's deadliest planes in a top-secret raid on mainland Argentina last week, the Daily Express reported. A spokesman for the Defense Ministry refused to confirm or deny the report.

Chilean sources in Buenos Aires told the Express the commandos were dropped after nightfall by helicopters near the airfield, near Chile. They planted explosives in Argentina's five Super Etendard fighter-bombers, the Express reported. It was a Super Etendard that sank the British destroyer HMS Sheffield with an Exocet missile.

The first indication of British presence in the area was the reported loss of a British troop-carrying helicopter on Chilean territory May 20, the Express said.

The Chilean government said it found three crew members of a crashed British helicopter who had been hiding since last week, thinking they were in Argentina. The three had been handed over to the British embassy in Chile. A military source in London said the three were already on their way home.

Argentine Navy sources denied that the planes had been destroyed and said that the reports might be intended to trick Argentina into disclosing where it Super Etendards were based.

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