Skip to comments.PICTURES: UK Harriers to make final operational flights today
Posted on 12/15/2010 4:25:38 AM PST by sukhoi-30mki
PICTURES: UK Harriers to make final operational flights today
By Craig Hoyle
Operations with the UKs BAE Systems Harrier GR9/9A ground-attack aircraft will come to an end today, with the nations Joint Force Harrier organisation to perform a final series of sorties from the Royal Air Forces Cottesmore base in Rutland.
The farewell is to involve a 16-aircraft formation which will perform flypasts at the RAFs facilities at Wyton, Cranwell, Waddington, Scampton and Coningsby and also over Stamford, Lincoln and Oakham before returning to land at Cottesmore. The aircraft should take off from around 13:15 local time and land around 90min later, the Ministry of Defence says.
© Jamie Hunter/Aviacom
In total, 13 single-seat aircraft and three two-seat trainers were involved in rehearsal flights conducted earlier this week.
One of the aircraft has been painted in a retrospective colour scheme previously used with early RAF versions of the Harrier, as shown in this image from Aviacom photographer Jamie Hunter. Three others are shown with their tail fins painted to mark their operation by the RAFs 1 and 4 squadrons, and by the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arms 800 NAS.
© Jamie Hunter/Aviacom
Each of the units operated Harrier GR7A/9As from Kandahar airfield in Afghanistan in support of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force over an almost five-year period ending in mid-2009. The type was replaced in theatre by the RAFs Panavia Tornado GR4 strike aircraft after more than 8,500 sorties and 22,000 flight hours.
Operations with the UKs Harriers were due to have continued until at least 2018, when it was to have transitioned to Lockheed Martins short take-off and vertical landing F-35B. However, the nations coalition government in late October announced a decision to retire the current type by 31 March 2011, and to shift the UKs planned production commitment to the Joint Strike Fighter programme to the F-35C carrier variant.
The UK had already reduced the size of its Harrier ground-attack fleet over the last several years, but Flightglobals MiliCAS database says the types early retirement still leaves around 52 aircraft as surplus to requirements. This includes 28 recently upgraded GR9s and 16 GR9As the latter version is powered by Rolls-Royces uprated Pegasus 107 engine plus eight T10/12/12A two-seat trainers.
One of the jet ages most iconic designs, the Harrier was first flown in prototype form in 1960, as the Hawker Siddeley P1127. The UKs Jump Jet achieved legendary status with its pivotal role during the 1982 Falklands War, when the RNs newly-fielded Sea Harriers shot down numerous Argentine air force aircraft.
© John Jockel/Rex Features
The then-British Aerospace also collaborated with McDonnell Douglas to develop the AV-8B Harrier II. MiliCAS says more than 140 of these remain in service with the US Marine Corps, with the Italian and Spanish navies also operating the type. The Indian navy also flies eight Sea Harrier FRS51 fighters and three trainers.
Todays event in the UK marks the nations second Harrier retirement in less than five years, with the Ministry of Defence having retired the RNs last Sea Harrier FA2s in March 2006.
The Spitfire will make a comeback.
What are they switching to?
So, what are the Brits flying off of their carriers, these days? Hellcats?
>> So, what are the Brits flying off of their carriers, these days? Hellcats?
Cessna 182s with folding wings.
Funds are tight, don’t you know.
They are switching to nothing in the short term. The RAF will fly Tornadoes and Eurofighters, while the RN will cool their heels for the better part of a decade waiting for the F-35C carrier variant and their second carrier to be built.
Their first carrier that is currently in construction is too far along to be retorfitted with catapult gear, so it will become a helicopter carrier. The second will have EMALS gear. Their first carrier will be retrofitted with EMALS during its first planned overhaul period.
Or so that is their plan.
Better keep ‘em in storage, UK. You’re gonna need them for the upcoming war with the muzzies.
You thinkest that I jest, oh uninformed ones?
Saw a very impressive demonstration by a US Marine variant of this plane just a couple of months back... I had seen video, but never one in person. Pretty amazing pice of machinery. I’m not sure how much longer the US will continue to operate these, but I will tell you this - I wouldn’t want a fully-armed Harrier after me!!!
Prince Harry flew the Harrier off a carrier?
We could not have been more merrier!
Seriously, there is now no fixed wing aircraft capability.
They are hoping to buy that JSF boondongle from the US.
You post the exact type of articles that i love.
You should start a ping list....and put me on it!
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I still think the Harrier is/was a remarkable platform.
These brits could easily be selling these to other countries by suggesting the cargo-conversion aircraft carrier approach. Sure it’s cheap & cheesey, but it worked for them in the Falklands.
Another big mistake was cancelling the Supersonic Harrier project, the P.1154 in 1965
I’ve always been puzzled by why the UK chose to go for two distinct variants-navy/air force rather than something more versatile as the AV-8B, which still remains in service and won more exports.
Thanks for your pics though-awesome as usual!!
Thanks for the comment on the images.
As per usual in the UK we like to do things differently and not always for the best! The Sea Harrier was basically a variant straight from the Harrier GR3 airframe and obviously designed before the McDonnell Douglas collaboration. Rather than discard the Sea Harrier FRS.1 we went for an upgrade to FA2 with AMRAAM.
It worked well, but the limiting factor was the lack of space to integrate the later uprated Pegasus engines as fitted to Harrier GR9s. In hindsight we should have built the radar equipped AV-8B. With the upgraded Pegasus it would have been a great multi-role platform.
Thanxx for the encouragement.