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Mon Apr 1, 2019, 05:27 AM

50 Years Ago Today; Hawker-Siddeley Harrier Enters Service with the RAF

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawker_Siddeley_Harrier



The Hawker Siddeley Harrier, developed in the 1960s, is the first of the Harrier Jump Jet series of aircraft. It was the first operational close-support and reconnaissance fighter aircraft with vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) capabilities and the only truly successful V/STOL design of the many that arose in that era. The Harrier was developed directly from the Hawker Siddeley Kestrel prototype aircraft, following the cancellation of a more advanced supersonic aircraft, the Hawker Siddeley P.1154. The British Royal Air Force (RAF) ordered the Harrier GR.1 and GR.3 variants in the late 1960s. It was exported to the United States as the AV-8A, for use by the US Marine Corps (USMC), in the 1970s.

During the Harrier's service the RAF positioned the bulk of the aircraft in West Germany to defend against a potential invasion of Western Europe by the Warsaw Pact forces; the unique abilities of the Harrier allowed the RAF to disperse their forces away from vulnerable airbases. The USMC used their Harriers primarily for close air support, operating from amphibious assault ships, and, if needed, forward operating bases. Harrier squadrons saw several deployments overseas. The Harrier's ability to operate with minimal ground facilities and very short runways allowed it to be used at locations unavailable to other fixed-wing aircraft. The Harrier received criticism for having a high accident rate and for a time-consuming maintenance process.

In the 1970s the British Aerospace Sea Harrier was developed from the Harrier for use by the Royal Navy (RN) on Invincible-class aircraft carriers. The Sea Harrier and the Harrier fought in the 1982 Falklands War, in which the aircraft proved to be crucial and versatile. The RN Sea Harriers provided fixed-wing air defence while the RAF Harriers focused on ground-attack missions in support of the advancing British land force. The Harrier was also extensively redesigned as the AV-8B Harrier II and British Aerospace Harrier II by the team of McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace. The innovative Harrier family and its Rolls-Royce Pegasus engines with thrust vectoring nozzles have generated long-term interest in V/STOL aircraft.

<snip>

Operational history
Royal Air Force

The first RAF squadron to be equipped with the Harrier GR.1, No. 1 Squadron, started to convert to the aircraft at RAF Wittering in April 1969. An early demonstration of the Harrier's capabilities was the participation of two aircraft in the Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race in May 1969, flying between St Pancras railway station, London and downtown Manhattan with the use of aerial refuelling. The Harrier completed the journey in 6 hours 11 minutes. Two Harrier squadrons were established in 1970 at the RAF's air base in Wildenrath to be part of its air force in Germany; another squadron was formed there two years later. In 1977, these three squadrons were moved forward to the air base at Gütersloh, closer to the prospective front line in the event of an outbreak of a European war. One of the squadrons was disbanded and its aircraft distributed between the other two.


A No. 1453 Flight Harrier GR.3 at Stanley Airport in 1984

In RAF service, the Harrier was used in close air support (CAS), reconnaissance, and other ground-attack roles. The flexibility of the Harrier led to a long-term heavy deployment in West Germany as a conventional deterrent and potential strike weapon against Soviet aggression; from camouflaged rough bases the Harrier was expected to launch attacks on advancing armour columns from East Germany. Harriers were also deployed to bases in Norway and Belize, a former British colony. No. 1 Squadron was specifically earmarked for Norwegian operations in the event of war, operating as part of Allied Forces Northern Europe. The Harrier's capabilities were necessary in the Belize deployment, as it was the only RAF combat aircraft capable of safely operating from the airport's short runway; British forces had been stationed in Belize for several years due to tensions over a Guatemalan claim to Belizean territory; the forces were withdrawn in 1993, two years after Guatemala recognized the independence of Belize.

In the Falklands War in 1982, 10 Harrier GR.3s of No. 1 Squadron operated from the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes. As the RAF Harrier GR.3 had not been designed for naval service, the 10 aircraft had to be rapidly modified prior to the departure of the task force. Special sealants against corrosion were applied and a new deck-based inertial guidance aid was devised to allow the RAF Harrier to land on a carrier as easily as the Sea Harrier. Transponders to guide aircraft back to the carriers during night-time operations were also installed, along with flares and chaff dispensers.

As there was little space on the carriers, two requisitioned merchant container ships, Atlantic Conveyor and Atlantic Causeway, were modified with temporary flight decks and used to carry Harriers and helicopters to the South Atlantic.[ The Harrier GR.3s focused on providing close air support to the ground forces on the Falklands and attacking Argentine positions; suppressing enemy artillery was often a high priority. Sea Harriers were also used in the war, primarily conducting fleet air defence and combat air patrols against the threat of attacking Argentine fighters. However, both Sea Harriers and Harrier GR.3s were used in ground-attack missions against the main airfield and runway at Stanley.

If most of the Sea Harriers had been lost, the GR.3s would have replaced them in air patrol duties, even though the Harrier GR.3 was not designed for air defence operations; as such the GR.3s quickly had their outboard weapons pylons modified to take air-to-air Sidewinder missiles. From 10 to 24 May 1982, prior to British forces landing in the Falklands, a detachment of three GR.3s provided air defence for Ascension Island until three F-4 Phantom IIs arrived to take on this responsibility. During the Falklands War, the greatest threats to the Harriers were deemed to be surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) and small arms fire from the ground.[98] In total, four Harrier GR.3s and six Sea Harriers were lost to ground fire, accidents, or mechanical failure. More than 2,000 Harrier sorties were conducted during the conflict—equivalent to six sorties per day per aircraft.


An RAF Harrier GR.3 in Belize, 1990

Following the Falklands war, British Aerospace explored the Skyhook, a new technique to operate Harriers from smaller ships. Skyhook would have allowed the launching and landing of Harriers from smaller ships by holding the aircraft in midair by a crane; secondary cranes were to hold weapons for rapid re-arming. This would potentially have saved fuel and allowed for operations in rougher seas. The system was marketed to foreign customers, and it was speculated that Skyhook could be applied to large submarines such as the Russian Typhoon class, but the system attracted no interest.

The first generation of Harriers did not see further combat with the RAF after the Falklands War, although they continued to serve for years afterwards. As a deterrent against further Argentine invasion attempts, No. 1453 Flight RAF was deployed to the Falkland Islands from August 1983 to June 1985. However the second generation Harrier IIs saw action in Bosnia, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The first generation Hawker Siddeley airframes were replaced by the improved Harrier II, which had been developed jointly between McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace.
</snip>


Phenomenal aircraft!

6 replies, 873 views

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Reply 50 Years Ago Today; Hawker-Siddeley Harrier Enters Service with the RAF (Original post)
Dennis Donovan Apr 1 OP
Sherman A1 Apr 1 #1
happybird Apr 1 #3
KelleyKramer Apr 1 #2
Roy Rolling Apr 1 #4
sl8 Apr 1 #5
KelleyKramer Apr 1 #6

Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 06:02 AM

1. A cool airplane

Got to see the US produced one at a local air show. Noisy buzzards!

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Response to Sherman A1 (Reply #1)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 07:51 AM

3. Super loud

Around dusk on the day of the "shoe bomber" I was driving up the highway and saw one hovering in front of Mt. Weather. It was crazy. I pulled over to watch (along with a few other rubberneckers) and was stunned by how *loud* it was. Because of the way the highway is situated to the mountain, the jet was nearly at eye level to us. Watched for few minutes then continued on my way. It was still just hanging there in the air, blasting noise over the village and valley, when I left.

Everyone who lived in the area was used to seeing all manner of aircraft, especially helicopters, flying over but that's the only time I ever saw a Harrier. I'll never forget it. So cool and so loud!

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Response to Dennis Donovan (Original post)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 07:03 AM

2. In the Belize pic, what's up with the umbrella?


Looks like there is an umbrella on the cockpit, maybe they were using it for shade while working on it?

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Response to KelleyKramer (Reply #2)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 08:01 AM

4. Could Provide shade

It also looks overcast with maybe rain

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Response to KelleyKramer (Reply #2)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 08:35 AM

5. Looks like both aircraft have them deployed.

From Fighting Cockpits: In the Pilot's Seat of Great Military Aircraft from World War I to Today
https://books.google.com/books?id=ON0uDAAAQBAJ&pg=PA183&lpg=PA183&dq=harrier+canopy+OR+cockpit++parasol+OR+umbrella&source=bl&ots=AeIgol6U_y&sig=ACfU3U0gX7kyYGWoFLG6BEB9oqN9kRabVg&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwjW3YXd5q7hAhUILa0KHSPzC4kQ6AEwDXoECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=harrier%20canopy%20OR%20cockpit%20%20parasol%20OR%20umbrella&f=false


[...]

When we transitioned into the AV8-B model we did keep one feature from the AV8-A—the canopy parasol. When standing on alert on a hot summer day, the cockpit would get very hot. Mounted on the left bulkhead was a receptacle for an umbrella. It wasn't lacy, but a manly olive drab material.

[...]

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Response to sl8 (Reply #5)

Mon Apr 1, 2019, 09:38 AM

6. HaHa! You're right, good catch!


The one in the back looks like it has the same thing

I would still stick to my original story. .. it's shade for doing maintenance work!

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