The UK BAE company`s Harrier is the first vertical taking off and landing fighter deployed in the world, which can also hold over in the air and fly backward. It was made by Hawker Siddeley Aviation and first flew on Aug. 31, 1966, after a long period of development.

Hawker Siddeley became part of British Aerospace in 1977, and the latter firm, in partnership with McDonnell Douglas in the United States, continued to manufacture the Harrier. The photo shows the prototype of Harrier.

Its` prototype production began in 1959 and first aircraft finished in 1960. In the 30 years after Harrier was born, there came after 3 generation Harriers: The first are the air-to-ground attack variations, including Harrier GR MK1, GR MK1A, GR MK3, deployed since Jul,1970. The second generation are the Dual-seat training variations, such as Harrier T MK2, T MK2A, T MK4A, T MK8N.

The third are the variations for UK Royal Navy and foreign customers, such as Harrier MK50, GR MK5, MK52, KM54, MK55, MK60 and Sea Harrier FRS MK1, FRS MK2. The main version for US Marine includes Harrier MK50, the single-sear air support and reconnaissance fighter with US code AV-8A, first deployed in 1971, all deployed in 1977. And the GR MK5 is the modification of MK50, the US code AV-8B. The photo down here is a GR3.

GR MK3

Photo of Harrier T form Spain Navy

The reason why Harrier can do the vertical taking off and landing is all depend on its` well designed, excellent representation Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine. When the plane tries to take off vertically, the Pegasus engine`s four jettube will turned to face the ground so that the whiff will raise the aircraft. When trying short distance taking off, the jettube will first face backward to speed up the Harrier and then turn to 60 degree down to the ground to raise the aircraft with the help of the firedamp(CH4) jettube in the head. The jettubes can turn to 8 degree forward to the ground, if the aircraft is on the ground it will roll backward, if it is in the air it would fly backward. The firedamp(CH4) jettubes work together to control and adjust the aircrafts posture when vertical taking off or landing, or hold over.

In Apr 1982, the Falklands Islands war between UK and Argentina, the Sea Harrier showed great effect with AIM-9 missle shooting down several Argentina Mirage III fighters and other strikers. Now Harrier can carry all kinds of air-to-air, air-to-ground missles, bombs and rocket launchers.

The Sea Harrier is modified from Harrier GR MK3. The Sea Harrier is the multi purpose carrier based VTOSL fighter, deployed for sea patrol, fleet air defense, air-to-ship, reconnaissance and anti-submarine. Its` design began in May 1975, first flight in Aug 1978. Jun 1979 the Sea Harrier began to serve in UK navy and the navy ordered 48 Sea Harriers, later exported to India. Since vertical taking off would cut down the payload and range, the Sea Harrier always use short distance taking off. The main variations of Sea Harrier include FRS MK1, the basic version for UK navy. FRS MK2, the development of FRS MK1 and FRS MK51, the indian code for FRS MK1.

The Sea Harrier FRS MK1 proved itself a formidable weapon in the Falklands war of 1982 after development to give the Royal Navy's three 'Invincible' class light aircraft carriers. Compared with the Harrier, the Sea Harrier has a revised structure less susceptible to salt-water corrosion, naval equipment, and a totally new forward fuselage. This last seats the pilot higher under a bubble canopy for much improved air-combat fields of vision, carries a new nav/attack system and displays, and supports a 'Blue Fox' multi-mode radar in a nose section that folds to reduce shipboard length. Like the Harrier, the Sea Harrier has an oblique camera in the port side of the nose for the tactical reconnaissance task. The FRS MK1 is powered by a Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk104 engine, thrust 95.6KN.

"Blue Fox" multi-mode radar

Sea Harrier FRS MK2 is the mid-life update version of the FRS MK1, designed to provide the type with the ability to engage multiple beyond-visual-horizon target s (even those at low level) with four AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range AAMs. To this end the original 'Blue Fox' radar is replaced by Ferranti 'Blue Vixen' coherent pulse-Doppler track-while-scan radar to improve acquisition and look-down capabilities(shown in photo), and other improvements are a MIL 1553B digital databus (making it possible to carry Sea Eagle anti-ship and ALARM anti-radar missiles) and the installation of the Marconi Sky Guardian 200 RWR, the JTIDS for secure voice and data links, two additional underwing hardpoints, wing tip stations for two AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range AAMs, wing improvements, a revised cockpit with HOTAS controls, larger drop tanks, provision for 25 mm Aden 25 cannon in place of the elderly 30 mm weapons, and possibly a Plessey missile-approach warning system. The armament include two 30 mm ADEN cannon pods; five hardpoints, totaly 8,000 lb (3,630 kg); warload/5,000 lb (2,270 kg) with vertical take off; AIM-120/AIM-7M Sidewinder; Sea Eagle SSMs; WE117 nuclear bomb; bombs; rockets.

Another FRS MK2 and the 3 view

Sea Harrier FRS MK51 is the Sea Harrier FRS MK1 variant for the Indian navy, which ordered a total of 23 aircraft with revised systems, including the Vinten Vicon 78 chaff/flare dispenser, and provision for Matra R550 Magic rather than AIM-9 Sidewinder short-range AAMs. Photo here.

The Harrier GR7 is the latest Harrier 'Jump Jets' originating from the 1960s. The second-generation of Harrier, GR5 and GR7, replaced the original Harrier GR3s in the late 1980s/early 1990s in the offensive support role. The main difference between GR5 and GR7 is that GR7 add a FLIR set on the nose. The GR7 is a licence-built American-designed AV-8B Harrier II fitted with RAF-specific navigation and defensive systems. Other changes include additional underwing pylons for AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles. The improved design of the GR7 allows the aircraft to carry twice the load of a GR3 over the same distance or the same load twice the distance. First flight of the Harrier GR7 was in 1989, and deliveries to RAF squadrons began in 1990. A total of 96 aircraft were ordered, including 62 interim GR5s which were later modified to GR7 standard. Photo below.

GR5

GR7

Fully operational with three front line squadrons and the Operational Conversion Unit, the aircraft carries forward-looking infra-red (FLIR) equipment, in conjunction with the pilot's night vision goggles (NVGs), provides a night, low level capability. Although optimised for low level operations at subsonic speeds, the Harrier is also ideally suited to medium level operations where it utilises its highly accurate angle rate bombing system (ARBS) which employs a TV and laser dual mode tracker (DMT). It is powered by one Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk 105 vectored thrust turbofan of 21,750lb st(86.7kN). The armament include two 25mm cannon on under-fuselage stations. Up to sixteen Mk 82 or six Mk 83 bombs, six BL-755 cluster bombs, four Maverick ASMs, or 10 rocket pods on seven wing stations.The Harrier T10, two-seat trainer version of the GR7, came into service in 1995 and is fully operationally capable.

Recent operational deployments for the Harriers have been to Italy in support of NATO and UN operations in Bosnia and Serbia, and to the Gulf embarked on Royal Navy aircraft carriers. This type of joint deployment is a prelude to the setting up of Joint Force 2000 - the combining of RAF Harrier and RN Sea Harrier assets into one joint-controlled force announced in the Strategic Defence Review.

Since the Harrier will not retire until 2015, the Royal Air Force is offering Harrier a limited eletronic update program from which Harrier can carry smart weapons. The new Harrier would be called GR9. And 40 of these GR9s will be equiped with bigger thrust and modern Pegasus engine. The engine would be modified from the orginal MK105 engine with a new code MK107(or Pegasus 11-61).

Harrier retirement is a right decision?

A group of retired admirals has called on government to reverse its decision to decommission HMS Ark Royal and the UK's Harrier jets as set out in the Strategic Defence and Security Review.

The group made the call in a letter to The Times newspaper signed by former Royal Navy chiefs Lord West and Sir Julian Oswald as well as Vice-Admiral Sir Jeremy Blackham, Vice-Admiral John Mcanally and Major General Julian Thompson.

In the letter, the group say the decision to scrap the harriers is "strategically and financially perverse", and could result in the UK losing the "newly valuable" Falkland islands.

The letter reads: "In respect of the newly valuable Falklands and their oilfields, because of these and other cuts, for the next 10 years at least, Argentina is practically invited to attempt to inflict on us a national humiliation on the scale of the loss of Singapore.

"One from which British prestige, let alone the administration in power at the time, might never recover."

Arguing that it would have been cheaper to scrap the Tornado and not lose carrier strike capability, the group wrote: "The existing Tornado force will cost, over 10 years, seven times as much to keep in service as Harrier. Was the recent exercise not supposed to save money?

"The decision to axe the entire Harrier force is strategically and financially perverse."

With the loss of the harriers and Ark Royal, the UK is set to lose carrier strike capability until the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers and F-35C are launched in 2020.

"The government has, in effect, declared a new '10-year rule' that assumes Britain will have warning time to rebuild to face a threat," the group wrote. "The last Treasury-driven '10-year rule' in the 1930s nearly cost us our freedom, faced with Hitler."

Defence Secretary Liam Fox told a conference on 9 November that foreign basing and overflight rights would mean that the UK could afford to take a "carrier strike holiday".

Armed Forces Minister Nick Harvey told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that the Falklands was "a very different situation" now than it was at the time of the war in 1982.

"We're far more alert to the threat now, we've got a well-defended airfield, we've got a company of troops there, we've got submarines," he said.
Harvey said the decision to scrap the Harriers was taken "on the basis of the balance of military advice coming from the current military leadership".

"When you look at the full range of threats we might face over the next 10 years we get far more capability out of the Tornado than we would out of the Harrier," he said.

Sea Harrier FRS MK2 Data

Length: 46 ft 6 in (14.17 m)
Wingspan: 25 ft 3 in (7.70 m)
Height: 12 ft 2 in (3.71 m)
Empty: 14,052 lb (6,374 kg)
Max T/O: 26,200 lb (11,800 kg)
Max Speed: Mach 1.25; 736 mph (1,185 km/h) at low level
Range: 800 nm (1,500 km)
J-20 J-15 J-10 J-10B J-31 J-11 J-11B Su-27 fighter china WZ-10 Xianglong UAV
J-20 J-15 J-10B J-31 J-11 WZ-10 Xianglong UAV

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