DE&S have delivered essential equipment to the Falkland Islands as part of the UK Government’s support to the Overseas Territories during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the organisation, Air Separation Units (ASUs), used previously to generate oxygen for Royal Air Force aircrew on Tornado and Hercules from the 1990s to around 2016, were identified by aircraft engineering specialists as a potential oxygen production source for coronavirus patients.

“Working with the Defence Electronics and Components Agency (DECA) and RAF personnel, the machines were sourced, repurposed to hospital-grade standard and then quickly deployed to the Falkland Islands. The equipment is now up and running on a de-commissioned liquid oxygen production compound at RAF Mount Pleasant, where liquid oxygen is produced ready for transfer by road to King Edward Memorial Hospital.”

Minister for Defence Procurement, Jeremy Quin said:

“Repurposing parts originally destined for fighter jets demonstrates the versatility of what our military can offer our partners in the Overseas Territories: Air Separation Units having been turned into life-saving oxygen machines.”

Mark Taylor, Operations Manager, AES Air Commodities Team, said:

“The RAF has a number of ASUs, which are used to generate oxygen for aircrew operating at high altitude. The Airfield Engineering Support Team recognised that these units can be adapted to produce oxygen for COVID-19 patients. The ASUs have limited operational usage since newer aircraft generate their own oxygen for crews to breathe at high altitude. Therefore, the spare capacity was made available to support other functions, in this case the King Edward Memorial Hospital, which doesn’t have its own oxygen generation capability.”

A C-17 Globemaster from RAF Brize Norton transferred 20 tonnes of specialised apparatus including the ASUs in April. Two days later, an RAF A400M transferred additional ancillary equipment and personnel who will assist in the installation and maintenance of the ASUs.

The final shipment was for 50 oxygen cylinders, which were flown to the Falkland Islands on a scheduled service.

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Paul T

On a slight tangent,obviously there is much less Air Traffic around at the moment,earlier i heard an Aircraft Droning noise while at home,i looked at the Flighradar24 site and it bought up an A400M,is it not the case that Military Air Traffic is hidden on such a site ?.


Not if they have theirADS-B transponders on & not set to block etc. (it may also vary according to how the tracker site monetises itself – some will charge extra to dislay miltary etc. etc.)

Paul T

Ok thanks .


Paul will give you the best options on an app tracker, as Heidfirst said most will charge for military option and certain. Plane finder and flightradar24 normally block military aircraft from appearing but given the lack of anything else in the air they are showing at the mo.

Paul T

Cool LT i’ll give it a look cheers.


This is phenomenal!

Andy P

Aye, good to see, somebody had a think about it and some gear that was gathering dust is now of use. Not trying to turn things political but you’d think that the UK government would have measures in place in the (unlikely I guess) event that the covid makes it to the Falklands.

David Johnson

It has. There have been 13 cases, no fatalities, in the Falklands.

Andy P

Thanks for letting us know mate. Thankfully no fatalities then, I guess they can be traced in a community that small. Fingers crossed for the.

Andy P

Thanks for letting us know mate. Thankfully no fatalities then, I guess they can be traced in a community that small. Fingers crossed for those affected.

Apologies, I ended up in a whatsapp conversation and must have pressed the wrong button.


Nice to see other countries seeing the many benefits of long range, heavy lift aircraft. They might not be glamorous but they provide a vital capability both in combat and non combat situations.


Would a C17 or A400M need to stop at Ascension on the way?


Yes, it could do it if it was air to air refuelled. But you’re talking about a 16 hour continuous flight, so would need a spare crew.


Ascension has been shut due runway damage for the past 18 months. These flights would have stopped at Sal in Cape Verde or possibly Recife, Brazil or Uruguay, an alternative is via Cape Town. Regardless the 2nd leg is a long over water leg and depending on load maybe pushing it for the A400, a Voyager would normally be at Mount Pleasant anyway so could help it in, no option for that with the C17, I think RAF C17s are all ER’s (the extra wing box tanks) but 20tons doesn’t restrict too much in payload v range and Sal has… Read more »