Military Aviation > Air Forces

UK saying goodbye to the Harrier

(1/2) > >>

As you have probably heard or read, the SDSR measures by the UK MOD included among many other tough cuts the early retirement of the Harrier. The Sea Harrier had been retired (also early) in 2007, but the Navy had been sharing the RAF fleet of GR.7/9 strike versions under Joint Force Harrier. This time around, they all go, leaving the UK with helicopter-only carriers and scrapping HMS Ark Royal and the RAF without V/STOL CAS. Not only until the new carriers (well, carrier, as the second one will the mothballed) arrive, but also it will take some more years for the F-35C to finally board them, will the Royal Navy loose its fixed-wing carrier strike capability. Perhaps something like a 10 year gap, but a necessary and intentional one.

Reports on the subject have been very emotional (rightfully so for the people involved) and sentimental. The Harrier being the hero of the Falklands, pride of a nation, and perhaps the last example of "British Engineering Masterpieces" in the defence area, that was actually recognized by the rest of the world as such? Of course the Harrier will have some time to go outside the UK in its AV-8B shape, but for UK the Harrier era has ended and with that probably STOVL.

But rationally, it was the right decision... right?

I fear for the future of the new carrier(s), I think in the coming 10 years UK defence will shrink to a state at which in 10 years time, faced with more urgent gaps to fill (AEW replacement, Helicopter shortage, MPA gap, Tornado end-of-life (could also be described as Typhoon shortage)), they will be unable to justify the carrier strike force re-introduction and F-35C procurement costs making the carrier a floating "sunk cost". I hope I'll be proven wrong.

Wow, no responses, that's sad. I thought the Harrier was iconic.

shawn a:
Hey!, just got home.
The Harrier is, and was, the most common-sense approach to VTOL there ever was-is!!
The concept of using cool fan air in front, and combusted, exhaust air, in back,with just swiveling nozzles, to lift the plane was the most common-sense approach to jet VTOL so far!! (Bar none!!)
I feel the F-35B is absurdly complex and counterintuitive in its overly complicated lift fan-exhaust thrust, combination, along with the ridiculous number of doors that must open correctly, in sequence, and CLOSE correctly, for the plane to work as advertised.
As I've said before, lets get rid of that damn fan, and put the shaft to work generating electrical power for directed energy weapons, and take back the initiative we've given away!
The Harrier IS iconic, and will be realized as the breakthrough it was in the future, but ,sadly not quite yet.
I always liked the airshow demos where the Harrier went from zero to 600 mph in 60 seconds. I'm curious if the Rhino Beetle can do that.
Shawn A.

F-111 C/C:
I agree. Iconic. Not that I'm bias but the AV-8B made the great Harrier ever better. All in all, what I like best about the Harrier was the use of engine bleed air directed to the flight control surfaces ('puffers') to allow changes in AOA/Vector at zero airspeed. Brilliant!

The noise was aweful though, but it was and still is impressive, also from 600 back to 0 again, and then reverse flight. :D

--- Quote ---Not that I'm bias but the AV-8B made the great Harrier ever better.
--- End quote ---

The GR.7/9 that has been scrapped now is the Harrier II, basically the UK's AV-8B. So unless you meant the APG-65 equipped Harrier II+ specifically, there's nothing wrong with that statement, Harrier II was a huge improvement over the first Harrier, no doubt.

But II+ versus GR.7/9/basic AV-8B, apples and oranges. Versus Sea Harrier II, I'm not so sure.


[0] Message Index

[#] Next page

Go to full version