BAe Sea Harrier FA2, RIAT 2005 ©Dave Key
V/STOL Ground Attack.
1 April 1969.
The Harrier was designed and developed by Hawker Siddeley in the 1960's and was the first operational close-support and reconnaissance fighter aircraft with Vertical/short take-off and Landing (V/STOL) capability.
The Harrier was based around a Rolls Royce Pegasus 6 turbofan with four vectoring nozzles for directing the thrust in the desired direction.
To maintain stability of the aircraft during vertical flight, several smaller reaction nozzles were fitted in the nose, tail and wingtips.
The main landing gear is housed in the fuselage with two outrigger landing gear on the wing tips.
The VTOL abilities of the Harrier enabled it to be deployed from small clearings and helipads as well as conventional airfields. This gave the Harrier the advantage of being able to function even if its base had been knocked out.
The STOL ability of the Harrier was also extremely attractive as it provided better fuel economy and allowed the aircraft to carry more ordinance.
The Hawker Siddeley Harrier was produced from 1967, with 278 built.
Rolls Royce Pegasus 103, producing 21,500 lbf.
2 x Aden 30mm cannon
5,000 lb (2,268 kg) Bomb/Rocket/Missile load
The Harrier GR.1 began its service life in the RAF with No.1 Squadron RAF Wittering in April of 1969. Two further Squadrons were formed in 1970 at RAF Wildenrath in Germany, and another there two years later.
During the Falklands war in 1982, No.1 Squadron operated 10 GR.3 Harriers from aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. The Harrier GR.3 provided close-air support to the ground forces with priority given to eliminating enemy artillery.
Sea Harriers were also deployed during the war generally providing fleet air defence combat air patrols. During the conflict four Harrier GR.3's and six Sea Harriers were lost to ground fire, accidents or mechanical failures.
The USMC was interested in the Harrier from its initial service with the RAF and after further development it entered service with the Marine Corps in 1971 with the designation AV-8A.
The AV-8As air-to-air combat ability was tested by the Marine Corps in mock dog fights with the F-4 Phantom II and they proved to be successful.
From 1979 the USMC began to upgrade their AV-8A's to AV-8C's which had improved VTOL performance and better service life.
By 1987 the AV-8A's and AV-8C's were replaced by the AV-8B's, designated Harrier II.
The AV-8B is currently planned to be replaced by a more modern V/STOL aircraft, namely the Lockheed Martin F-35B.
|Crew - 1|
|Length - 46ft 10in (14.27m)|
|Wingspan - 25ft 5in (7.75m)|
|Height - 11ft 11in (3.63m)|
|Empty Weight - 13,535lb (6,140kg)|
|Max. Weight - 25,200lb (11,431kg)|
|Max. Speed - 731 mph (1176 km/h)|
|Range - 2,130 miles (3,425 km)|