BAe Harrier

BAe Harrier GR.9 ZG503
BAe Harrier GR.9 - ZG503
Design and Development

The BAE Systems/Boeing Harrier II (GR.5, GR.7, and GR.9) is a second generation vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) jet aircraft used by the RAF and, since 2006, the Royal Navy. It was developed from the earlier Hawker Siddeley Harrier and is very closely related to the US built AV-8B Harrier II. Both are primarily used for light attack or multi- role tasks, and are often operated from small aircraft carriers.

Development of a successor to the first Harrier began as a cooperative effort between McDonnell Douglas and Hawker Siddeley. Cost overruns eventually led Hawker to withdraw from the project, but work continued due to US interest in the aircraft. Britain re-entered development in the late 1970's, producing their own version of the Harrier II based on the US design. For UK variants, BAe Systems is the prime contractor and Boeing a sub-contractor. The Harrier II is an extensively modified version of the first generation Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 series which first flew in December 1967. The original aluminium alloy fuselage was replaced by a fuselage which makes extensive use of composites, providing significant weight reduction and increased payload/range. An all-new one piece wing provides around 14 per cent more area and increased thickness.

With the withdrawal of the Royal Navy's Sea Harrier in 2006 the RAF's Harrier fleet is tasked with the missions it used to share with those aircraft. In 2006, the GR.9 also entered service with the Fleet Air Arm when the first former Sea Harrier squadron reformed. The GR.9 is expected to stay in service at least until 2015, when the first F-35s are due. At this point the JSF force should be gaining an initial operational capability (IOC).

The Harrier GR.9 is an avionics and weapons upgrade of the standard GR.7. This upgrade, known as the Integrated Weapons Program (IWP), allows the carriage of the latest smart weapons, new inertial navigation and Global Positioning Systems (INS/GPS). The new weapons being integrated are the Brimstone, Maverick, Paveway III LGB and Paveway IV PGB missiles. The planes will also be fitted with Sniper targeting pods. In July 2007, BAe Systems completed the final of seven Harrier GR.9 replacement rear fuselages for the UK MoD. The Harrier GR.9A is an avionics and weapons upgrade of the uprated engine GR.7As.

The RAF also operates the Harrier T.10, which is the original two seat training variant of the second generation RAF Harrier. The RAF considered upgrading the first generation Harrier trainer, the T.4, to Harrier II standard. However due to the age of the airframes and the level of modification required the service decided to order new build Harrier II trainers. The RAF used the USMC trainer, the TAV-8B, as the basis for the design. Unlike their American counterparts the T.10s are fully combat capable. Thirteen aircraft were built. With the upgrades bringing the GR.7s to GR.9 standard, the RAF requires representative trainers. These aircraft will be the T.12, the T.10s with the IWP upgrade.

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Operational History

In RAF service, the Harrier GR7 formed the spearhead of the RAF's contribution to Operation Allied Force, the NATO mission in Kosovo. During this campaign the RAF identified significant shortcomings in its arsenal. As a result the service ordered the AGM-65 Maverick stand-off missile and the Enhanced Paveway which incorporates GPS guidance which would negate the effects of smoke and bad weather. Using updated ordnance as well as unguided iron and cluster munitions, RAF Harrier GR.7s played a prominent role in Operation Telic, the UK contribution to the U.S. led war against Iraq in 2003. RAF GR.7's participated in strike and close air support missions throughout the conflict.

On 14th October 2005 a RAF Harrier GR.7A was destroyed and another was damaged in a rocket attack by Taliban forces while parked on the tarmac at Kandahar in Afghanistan. No one was injured in the attack. The damaged Harrier was repaired, while the destroyed one was replaced by another aircraft.

The first operational deployment of the Harrier GR.9 was in January 2007 at Kandahar in Afghanistan as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Harrier GR.7's were deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 as part of the expanded ISAF mission in the south of Afghanistan. Reflecting the increased pace of operations, RAF Harrier GR.7A's saw a large increase in munitions used, mainly CRV7 rockets and laser guided bombs, used supporting ground forces since July 2006. Between July and September, the theatre total for munitions deployed by British Harriers on planned operations and close air support to ground forces rose from 179 to 539.

RAF Wittering and RAF Cottesmore where the last home to the GR.7/A and T.10, with 20(R) Sqn. RAF Cottesmore is also operating the GR.7/A with No.1(F), No.4(AC) and No.800 Navel Air Squadrons. The GR.9/A is was operated by No.41(R) FJWEU Squadron at RAF Coningsby and No.801 Navel Air Squadron at RAF Cottesmore.

On the 15th December 2010, the Harrier has was retired from RAF service at a ceremony held at RAF Cottesmore. All the former RAF airframes are to be sold to the USAF to help keep their AV-8 fleet serviceable.

Production Summary
P.11276 Prototypes
FGA.1 Kestrel9 Evaluation aircraft
P.1127 (RAF)6 built
GR.161 built
GR.1A58 built (including 41 GR.1 conversions)
GR.3101 built (including 61 GR.1 & 1A conversions)
HS.11742 Development aircraft
T.210 built
T.2A14 built (including 10 T.2 conversions)
T.425 built (including 13 T.2 & 2A conversions)
T.4A1 T.4 conversion
Mk.521 Demonstrator aircraft
Sea Harrier3 Development aircraft
FRS.154 built
T.4N3 built
FRS.5123 (All for Indian Navy)
T.604 (All for Indian Navy)
T.4(I)2 T.4 conversions (Indian Navy)
FRS.22 FRS.1 conversions
FRS.2/FA.247 (29 FRS.1 conversions)
T.8N5 T.4 & 4N conversions
GR.543 (2 development aircraft)
GR.5A22 (19 GR.5 conversions)
GR.787 (53 GR.5 & 5A conversions)
GR.7A20 GR.7 conversions
GR.910 GR.7 conversions
GR.9A30 GR.7 & 7A conversions
T.1212 T.10 conversions
Specifications(Harrier GR.1)
Length:45.60ft (13.90m)
Width:25.26ft (7.70m)
Height:11.32ft (3.45m)
Empty Weight:12,192lbs (5,530kg)
MTOW:25,353lbs (11,500kg)
Max Speed:736mph (1,185kmh; 640kts)
Max Range:1,181miles (1,900km)
Rate-of-Climb:50,000ft/min (15,240m/min)
Service Ceiling:49,213ft (15,000m)
Engine: 1 x Rolls-Royce Pegasus 101 turbofan delivering 19,000lbf of horizontal thrust and 1,000lbf of vertical thrust through 4 x swivelling nozzles
Armament Standard:2 x 30mm ADEN cannons
Armament Optional:4 x Matra rocket pods (18 x SNEB 68mm rocket each)
4 x AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles
2 x Anglo-French AS-37 Martel air-to-air missiles
Reconnaissance Pod
Conventional Drop Bombs
2 x Drop Tanks
Up to 5,000lbs of external stores on 5 hardpoints (4 underwing, 1 fuselage centerline)