The decision to leave Britain without an aircraft carrier to defend the Falklands could allow Argentina to recapture the south Atlantic territory, the commander of land forces in the 1982 conflict has warned.
Former commander of the Royal Marines Major General Julian Thompson said it would be "end of story" if Argentine forces took the British base on East Falkland.
He told The Times: "The Argentines have a marine brigade. They've got a parachute brigade and some good special forces.
"All they've got to do is get those guys on to the islands for long enough to destroy the (RAF) Typhoon jets and that's the end of it."
Maj Gen Thompson added: "You have got to take your own air support with you and you can't without a carrier. End of story."
Last month Downing Street accused Argentina of pursuing a "policy of confrontation" over the islands, after reports suggested the
South American state's government was calling on companies to stop importing goods from the UK.
It marked the latest escalation of the confrontation over the territory as the 30th anniversary of the Falklands War approaches.
Tempers flared after Britain deployed one of its most modern destroyers, HMS Dauntless, to the region, although it insisted the move was merely routine.
The Duke of Cambridge's arrival in the Falklands for a posting as an RAF search and rescue pilot further infuriated Buenos Aires.
Celebrities including Morrissey, Roger Waters, the Pink Floyd lyricist, and Hollywood actor Sean Penn have all claimed the Falklands belong to Argentina.