BAE Sea Harrier
Overview
 
The British Aerospace Sea Harrier is a naval
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

 VTOL
VTOL
A vertical take-off and landing aircraft is one that can hover, take off and land vertically. This classification includes fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters and other aircraft with powered rotors, such as cyclogyros/cyclocopters and tiltrotors...

/STOVL
STOVL
STOVL is an acronym for short take off and vertical landing.This is the ability of some aircraft to take off from a short runway or take off vertically if it does not have a very heavy payload and land vertically...

 jet fighter
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

, reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 and attack aircraft, a development of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier. It first entered service with the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 in April 1980 as the Sea Harrier FRS1 and became informally known as the "Shar". Unusual in an era in which most naval and land-based air superiority fighters were large and supersonic, the principal role of the subsonic Sea Harrier was air defence from Royal Navy aircraft carriers.

The Sea Harrier served in the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, both of the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

s, and the Balkans conflicts
NATO intervention in Bosnia
The NATO intervention in Bosnia consisted of a series of actions undertaken by NATO to establish and then preserve peace during and after the Bosnian War...

; on all occasions it mainly operated from aircraft carriers positioned within the conflict zone.
Encyclopedia
The British Aerospace Sea Harrier is a naval
Navy
A navy is the branch of a nation's armed forces principally designated for naval and amphibious warfare; namely, lake- or ocean-borne combat operations and related functions...

 VTOL
VTOL
A vertical take-off and landing aircraft is one that can hover, take off and land vertically. This classification includes fixed-wing aircraft as well as helicopters and other aircraft with powered rotors, such as cyclogyros/cyclocopters and tiltrotors...

/STOVL
STOVL
STOVL is an acronym for short take off and vertical landing.This is the ability of some aircraft to take off from a short runway or take off vertically if it does not have a very heavy payload and land vertically...

 jet fighter
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

, reconnaissance
Reconnaissance
Reconnaissance is the military term for exploring beyond the area occupied by friendly forces to gain information about enemy forces or features of the environment....

 and attack aircraft, a development of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier. It first entered service with the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 in April 1980 as the Sea Harrier FRS1 and became informally known as the "Shar". Unusual in an era in which most naval and land-based air superiority fighters were large and supersonic, the principal role of the subsonic Sea Harrier was air defence from Royal Navy aircraft carriers.

The Sea Harrier served in the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, both of the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

s, and the Balkans conflicts
NATO intervention in Bosnia
The NATO intervention in Bosnia consisted of a series of actions undertaken by NATO to establish and then preserve peace during and after the Bosnian War...

; on all occasions it mainly operated from aircraft carriers positioned within the conflict zone. Its usage in the Falklands War was its most high profile and important success, where it was the only fixed-wing fighter available to protect the British Task Force. The Sea Harriers shot down 20 enemy aircraft during the conflict with one loss to enemy ground fire. They were also used to launch ground attacks in the same manner as the Harriers operated by the Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

.

The Sea Harrier was marketed for sales abroad, but by 1983 India was the only operator other than Britain after sales to Argentina and Australia were unsuccessful. A second, updated version for the Royal Navy was made in 1993 as the Sea Harrier FA2, improving its air to air abilities and weapons compatibilities, along with a more powerful engine; this version continued manufacture until 1998. The aircraft was withdrawn early from Royal Navy service in March 2006 and replaced in the short term by the Harrier GR9, now itself retired, although the intended long term replacement is Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin is an American global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technology company with worldwide interests. It was formed by the merger of Lockheed Corporation with Martin Marietta in March 1995. It is headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, in the Washington Metropolitan Area....

's F-35 Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability...

. The Sea Harrier is in active use in the Indian Navy
Indian Navy
The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. The President of India serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff , usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the Navy...

, although it will eventually be replaced by the Mikoyan MiG-29K
Mikoyan MiG-29K
The Mikoyan MiG-29K is an all-weather carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft developed by the Mikoyan design bureau. The MiG-29K was developed in the late 1980s from MiG-29M....

.

Development

In the post-war
Post-war
A post-war period or postwar period is the interval immediately following the ending of a war and enduring as long as war does not resume. A post-war period can become an interwar period or interbellum when a war between the same parties resumes at a later date...

 era, the Royal Navy began contracting in parallel with the break-up of the British Empire
British Empire
The British Empire comprised the dominions, colonies, protectorates, mandates and other territories ruled or administered by the United Kingdom. It originated with the overseas colonies and trading posts established by England in the late 16th and early 17th centuries. At its height, it was the...

 overseas and the emergence of the Commonwealth of Nations
Commonwealth of Nations
The Commonwealth of Nations, normally referred to as the Commonwealth and formerly known as the British Commonwealth, is an intergovernmental organisation of fifty-four independent member states...

; reducing the importance and coverage feeding the need for a larger navy. By 1960 the last battleship, HMS Vanguard
HMS Vanguard (23)
HMS Vanguard was a British fast battleship built during World War II and commissioned after the end of the war. She was the only ship of her class and was the biggest, fastest and last of the Royal Navy's dreadnoughts, and the final battleship to be launched in the world...

, was retired from the Navy, having been in service for less than fifteen years. Perhaps the biggest sign of the new trend towards naval austerity
Austerity
In economics, austerity is a policy of deficit-cutting, lower spending, and a reduction in the amount of benefits and public services provided. Austerity policies are often used by governments to reduce their deficit spending while sometimes coupled with increases in taxes to pay back creditors to...

 came in 1966, when the planned CVA-01
CVA-01
The CVA-01 aircraft carrier was to be a class of at least two fleet carriers that would have replaced the Royal Navy's existing aircraft carriers, most of which had been designed prior to or during World War II....

 class of large aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

s destined for the Royal Navy were cancelled; apparently ending the Navy's involvement in fixed-wing carrier aviation as World War II era carriers were slowly retired one by one. During this time requirements within the Royal Navy began to form for a vertical and/or short take-off and landing
V/STOL
Vertical and/or short take-off and landing is a term used to describe aircraft that are able to take-off or land vertically or on short runways. Vertical takeoff and landing describes craft which do not require runways at all...

 (V/STOL) carrier-based interceptor to replace the de Havilland Sea Vixen
De Havilland Sea Vixen
The de Havilland DH.110 Sea Vixen was a twin boom 1950s–1960s British two-seat jet fighter of the Fleet Air Arm designed by de Havilland. Developed from an earlier first generation jet fighter, the Sea Vixen was a capable carrier-based fleet defence fighter that served into the 1970s...

. Afterward the first V/STOL tests on a ship began with a Hawker Siddeley P.1127 landing on in 1963.

A second concept for the future of naval aviation emerged in the early 1970s as the first of a new class of "through deck cruisers" was planned. These were very carefully and politically designated as cruisers to deliberately avoid the term "aircraft carrier", in order to increase the chances of funding from a hostile political climate against expensive capital ship
Capital ship
The capital ships of a navy are its most important warships; they generally possess the heaviest firepower and armor and are traditionally much larger than other naval vessels...

s, they were considerably smaller than the previously sought CVA-01. These ships were ordered as the Invincible class
Invincible class aircraft carrier
The Invincible class is a class of light aircraft carrier operated by the British Royal Navy. Three ships were constructed, , and . The vessels were built as aviation-capable anti-submarine warfare platforms to counter the Cold War North Atlantic Soviet submarine threat, and initially embarked...

 in 1973, and are now popularly recognised as aircraft carriers. Almost immediately upon their construction, a ski-jump was added to the end of the 170-metre deck, enabling the carriers to effectively operate a small number of V/STOL jets. The Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
The Royal Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Formed on 1 April 1918, it is the oldest independent air force in the world...

's Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR1s had entered service in April 1969. A navalised variant of the Harrier was developed by Hawker Siddeley to serve on the upcoming ships, this became the Sea Harrier. In 1975 the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...

 ordered 24 Sea Harrier FRS.1 (standing for 'Fighter, Reconnaissance, Strike') aircraft, the first of which entered service in 1978. During this time Hawker Siddeley became part of British Aerospace
British Aerospace
British Aerospace plc was a UK aircraft, munitions and defence-systems manufacturer. Its head office was in the Warwick House in the Farnborough Aerospace Centre in Farnborough, Hampshire...

 through a merger in 1977. By the time the prototype Sea Harrier was flown at Dunsfold on 20 August 1978 the order had been increased to 34. The Sea Harrier was declared operational in 1981 on board the first Invincible class ship HMS Invincible
HMS Invincible (R05)
HMS Invincible was a British light aircraft carrier, the lead ship of three in her class in the Royal Navy. She was launched on 3 May 1977 and is the seventh ship to carry the name. She saw action in the Falklands War when she was deployed with , she took over as flagship of the British fleet when...

, and further aircraft joined the ageing HMS Hermes
HMS Hermes (R12)
HMS Hermes was a Centaur-class British aircraft carrier, the last of the postwar conventional aircraft carriers commissioned into the Royal Navy.-Construction and modifications:...

 aircraft carrier later that year.

Following their key role in the 1982 Falklands War, several lessons were learned from the aircraft's performance, which led to approval for an upgrade of the fleet to FRS.2 (later known as FA2) standard to be given in 1984. The first flight of the prototype took place in September 1988 and a contract was signed for 29 upgraded aircraft in December that year. In 1990 the Navy ordered 18 new-build FA2s, at a unit cost of around £12 million, four further upgraded aircraft were ordered in 1994. The first aircraft was delivered on 2 April 1993.

Design

The Sea Harrier is a subsonic aircraft designed to fill strike, reconnaissance and fighter roles. It features a single Pegasus
Rolls-Royce Pegasus
The Rolls-Royce Pegasus is a turbofan engine originally designed by Bristol Siddeley, and now manufactured by Rolls-Royce plc. This engine is able to direct thrust downwards which can then be swivelled to power a jet aircraft forward. Lightly loaded, it can also manoeuvre like a helicopter,...

 turbofan
Turbofan
The turbofan is a type of airbreathing jet engine that is widely used for aircraft propulsion. A turbofan combines two types of engines, the turbo portion which is a conventional gas turbine engine, and the fan, a propeller-like ducted fan...

 engine with two intakes and four vectorable nozzles. It has two landing gear on the fuselage and two outrigger landing gear on the wings. The Sea Harrier is equipped with four wing and three fuselage pylons for carrying weapons and external fuel tanks. Use of the ski jump allowed the aircraft to take off with a heavier loadout than otherwise possible.

The Sea Harrier was largely based on the Harrier GR3, but was modified to have a raised cockpit with a "bubble
Bubble canopy
A bubble canopy is a canopy made like a soap bubble, which attempts to provide 360° vision to the pilot.-History:Bubble canopies have been in use since World War II. The British had already developed the "Malcolm hood", which was a bulged canopy, but the British Miles M.20 was one of the first...

" canopy for greater visibility, and an extended forward fuselage
Fuselage
The fuselage is an aircraft's main body section that holds crew and passengers or cargo. In single-engine aircraft it will usually contain an engine, although in some amphibious aircraft the single engine is mounted on a pylon attached to the fuselage which in turn is used as a floating hull...

 to accommodate the Ferranti
Ferranti
Ferranti or Ferranti International plc was a UK electrical engineering and equipment firm that operated for over a century from 1885 until it went bankrupt in 1993. Known primarily for defence electronics, the Company was once a constituent of the FTSE 100 Index but ceased trading in 1993.The...

 Blue Fox radar. Parts were changed to use corrosion resistant alloy
Alloy
An alloy is a mixture or metallic solid solution composed of two or more elements. Complete solid solution alloys give single solid phase microstructure, while partial solutions give two or more phases that may or may not be homogeneous in distribution, depending on thermal history...

s or coatings were added to protect against the marine environment. After the Falklands War, the Sea Harrier was fitted with the new anti-ship Sea Eagle
Sea Eagle
Sea eagle mainly refers to Sea eagle, birds of prey of the genus Haliaeetus.It may also refer to:-Aerospace:* Sea Eagle , British, anti-ship missile* Sea Eagle * Supermarine Sea Eagle, 1920s British passenger flying boat-Sports:...

 missile.

The Sea Harrier FA2 featured the Blue Vixen radar, which was described as one of the most advanced pulse doppler radar systems in the world; the Blue Fox radar was seen be some critics as having comparatively low performance for what was available at the time of procurement. The Blue Vixen formed the basis for development of the Eurofighter Typhoon
Eurofighter Typhoon
The Eurofighter Typhoon is a twin-engine, canard-delta wing, multirole combat aircraft, designed and built by a consortium of three companies: EADS, Alenia Aeronautica and BAE Systems; working through a holding company, Eurofighter GmbH, which was formed in 1986...

's CAPTOR radar
Euroradar CAPTOR
The Euroradar CAPTOR is a next generation mechanical multi-mode pulse doppler radar designed for the Eurofighter Typhoon.The radar is produced by the Euroradar consortium and is a development of the BAE Systems Blue Vixen radar which had been developed for the BAE Sea Harrier...

. The Sea Harrier FA2 also carried the AIM-120 AMRAAM
AIM-120 AMRAAM
The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM , is a modern beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capable of all-weather day-and-night operations. Designed with the same form-factor as the previous generation of semi-active guided Sparrow missiles, it is a fire-and-forget...

 missile, the first UK aircraft to be provided with this capability. An upgraded model of the Pegasus engine, the Pegasus Mk 106, was used in the Sea Harrier FA2; in response to the threat of radar-based anti aircraft weapons electronic countermeasures were added. Other improvements included an increase to the air-to-air weapons load, look-down radar, increased range, and improved cockpit displays.

The cockpit in the Sea Harrier includes a conventional centre stick
Centre stick
A centre stick , or simply control stick is an aircraft cockpit arrangement where the control column is located conventionally in the centre of the cockpit between the pilot's legs...

 arrangement and left-hand throttle. In addition to normal flight controls, the Harrier has a lever for controlling the direction of the four vectorable nozzles. The nozzles point rearward with the lever in the forward position for horizontal flight. With the lever back, the nozzles point downward for vertical takeoff or landing. The usefulness of the vertical landing capability of the Sea Harrier was demonstrated in an unintended incident on 6 June 1983, when Sub Lieutenant Ian Watson lost contact with the aircraft carrier HMS Illustrious
HMS Illustrious (R06)
HMS Illustrious is the second of three Invincible-class light aircraft carriers built for the Royal Navy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She is the fifth warship and second aircraft carrier to bear the name Illustrious, and is affectionately known as "Lusty" to her crew...

 and had to land on the foredeck of the Spanish cargo ship Alraigo.

In 2005, although already timetabled to be retired, a Sea Harrier was modified with an 'Autoland' system to allow the fighter to perform a safe vertical landing without any pilot interaction. Despite the pitching of a ship posing a natural problem, the system was designed to be aware of such data, and successfully performed a landing at sea in May 2005.

Entry into service

The first three Sea Harriers were a development batch and were used for clearance trials. The first production aircraft was delivered to RNAS Yeovilton
RNAS Yeovilton
Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, or RNAS Yeovilton, is an airfield of the Royal Navy, sited in South West England a few miles north of Yeovil in Somerset...

 in 1979 to form an Intensive Flying Trials Unit (also known as 700A Naval Air Squadron). In March 1980 the Intensive Flying Trials Unit became 899 Naval Air Squadron and would act as the landborne headquarters unit for the type. The first operational squadron 800 Naval Air Squadron was also formed in March 1980 initially to operate from HMS Invincible
HMS Invincible (R05)
HMS Invincible was a British light aircraft carrier, the lead ship of three in her class in the Royal Navy. She was launched on 3 May 1977 and is the seventh ship to carry the name. She saw action in the Falklands War when she was deployed with , she took over as flagship of the British fleet when...

 before it transferred to HMS Hermes
HMS Hermes (R12)
HMS Hermes was a Centaur-class British aircraft carrier, the last of the postwar conventional aircraft carriers commissioned into the Royal Navy.-Construction and modifications:...

. In January 1981 a second operation squadron 801 Naval Air Squadron
801 Naval Air Squadron
801 Naval Air Squadron was a Fleet Air Arm squadron of the Royal Navy formed in 1933 which fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Falklands War.- Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Air Force:...

 was formed to operate from HMS Invincible.

Falklands War

Sea Harriers took part in the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

 of 1982, flying from the aircraft carriers HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes. The Sea Harriers performed the primary air defence role with a secondary role of ground attack. The RAF Harrier GR3 provided the main ground attack force, a total of 28 Sea Harriers and 14 Harrier GR3s were deployed in the theatre. The Sea Harrier squadrons shot down 20 Argentine
Argentina
Argentina , officially the Argentine Republic , is the second largest country in South America by land area, after Brazil. It is constituted as a federation of 23 provinces and an autonomous city, Buenos Aires...

 aircraft in air-to-air combat with no air-to-air losses, although two Sea Harriers were lost to ground fire and four to accidents. Out of the total Argentine air losses, 28% were shot down by Harriers.

A number of factors contributed to the failure of the Argentinian fighters to shoot down a Sea Harrier. Although the Mirage III
Dassault Mirage III
The Mirage III is a supersonic fighter aircraft designed by Dassault Aviation during the late 1950s, and manufactured both in France and a number of other countries. It was a successful fighter aircraft, being sold to many air forces around the world and remaining in production for over a decade...

 and Dagger
IAI Nesher
The Israel Aircraft Industries Nesher is the Israeli version of the Dassault Mirage 5 multi-role fighter aircraft...

 jets were considerably faster, the Sea Harrier was considerably more manoeuvrable. Tactics such as such as the 'Viff' (Vectored in Forward Flight) using the nozzles normally used for vertical flight for braking and other directions proved decisive in dogfights. Moreover, the Harrier employed the latest AIM-9L Sidewinder
AIM-9 Sidewinder
The AIM-9 Sidewinder is a heat-seeking, short-range, air-to-air missile carried mostly by fighter aircraft and recently, certain gunship helicopters. The missile entered service with United States Air Force in the early 1950s, and variants and upgrades remain in active service with many air forces...

 missiles and the Blue Fox radar
Radar
Radar is an object-detection system which uses radio waves to determine the range, altitude, direction, or speed of objects. It can be used to detect aircraft, ships, spacecraft, guided missiles, motor vehicles, weather formations, and terrain. The radar dish or antenna transmits pulses of radio...

. The British pilots had superior air-combat training, one manifestation of which was that they thought they noticed Argentinian pilots occasionally releasing weapons outside of their operating parameters. This is now thought to have been Mirages releasing external fuel tanks rather than weapons, and turning away from conflict with the Sea Harrier. This later reduced their capability to fight an effective campaign against the Sea Harrier due to reduced range and lack of external fuel tanks.

British aircraft received fighter control from warships in San Carlos Water, although its effectiveness was limited by their being stationed close to the islands, which severely limited the effectiveness of their radar. The differences in tactics and training between 800 Squadron and 801 Squadron has been a point of criticism, suggesting that the losses of several ships were preventable had Sea Harriers from Hermes been used more effectively.

Both sides' aircraft were operating in adverse conditions. Argentine aircraft were forced to operate from the mainland because airfields on the Falklands were only suited for propellor-driven transports. In addition, fears partly aroused by the bombing of Port Stanley airport by a British Vulcan
Avro Vulcan
The Avro Vulcan, sometimes referred to as the Hawker Siddeley Vulcan, was a jet-powered delta wing strategic bomber, operated by the Royal Air Force from 1956 until 1984. Aircraft manufacturer A V Roe & Co designed the Vulcan in response to Specification B.35/46. Of the three V bombers produced,...

 bomber added to the Argentinians' decision to operate them from afar. As most Argentine aircraft lacked in-flight refuelling capability, they were forced to operate at the limit of their range. The Sea Harriers also had limited fuel reserves due to the tactical decision to station the British carriers out of Exocet missile range and the dispersal of the fleet. The result was that an Argentine aircraft could only allow five minutes over the islands to search and attack an objective, while a Sea Harrier could stay near to 30 minutes waiting in the Argentine approach corridors and provide Combat Air Patrol
Combat air patrol
Combat air patrol is a type of flying mission for fighter aircraft.A combat air patrol is an aircraft patrol provided over an objective area, over the force protected, over the critical area of a combat zone, or over an air defense area, for the purpose of intercepting and destroying hostile...

 coverage for up to an hour.
The Sea Harriers were outnumbered by the available Argentinian aircraft, and were on occasion decoyed away by the activities of the Escuadrón Fénix
Escuadrón Fénix
The Phoenix Squadron was a special unit of the Argentine Air Force formed during the 1982 Falklands War - History :...

or civilian jet aircraft used by the Argentine Air Force. They had to operate without a fleet early warning system such as AWACS that would have been available to a full NATO fleet in which the Royal Navy had expected to operate, which was a significant weakness in the operational environment. However, it is now known that Chile did provide early radar warning to the Task Force. The result was that the Sea Harriers could not establish complete air superiority and prevent Argentine attacks during day or night, nor could they completely stop the daily C-130 Hercules
C-130 Hercules
The Lockheed C-130 Hercules is a four-engine turboprop military transport aircraft designed and built originally by Lockheed, now Lockheed Martin. Capable of using unprepared runways for takeoffs and landings, the C-130 was originally designed as a troop, medical evacuation, and cargo transport...

 transports' night flights to the islands. A combined six Sea Harriers were lost to either enemy fire, accidents or mechanical failure during the war. The total aggregate loss rate for both the Harriers and Sea Harriers on strike operations was 2.3%.

Operations in the 1990s

The Sea Harrier participated in the Gulf War
Gulf War
The Persian Gulf War , commonly referred to as simply the Gulf War, was a war waged by a U.N.-authorized coalition force from 34 nations led by the United States, against Iraq in response to Iraq's invasion and annexation of Kuwait.The war is also known under other names, such as the First Gulf...

 in 1991, attacking Iraqi
Iraqi people
The Iraqi people or Mesopotamian people are natives or inhabitants of the country of Iraq, known since antiquity as Mesopotamia , with a large diaspora throughout the Arab World, Europe, the Americas, and...

 military ground targets and escorting other aircraft in and out of the zone. The hot climate of the region hindered the effectiveness and availability of the aircraft. Afterwards Sea Harriers maintained no fly zones established over southern Iraq
Operation Southern Watch
Operation Southern Watch was an operation conducted by Joint Task Force Southwest Asia with the mission of monitoring and controlling airspace south of the 32nd Parallel in Iraq, following the 1991 Gulf War until the 2003 invasion of Iraq.-Summary:Operation Southern Watch began on 27 August 1992...

.

The Sea Harrier saw action in war again when was deployed by the United Kingdom in the 1991–1995 conflict in Bosnia, part of Yugoslav Wars
Yugoslav wars
The Yugoslav Wars were a series of wars, fought throughout the former Yugoslavia between 1991 and 1995. The wars were complex: characterized by bitter ethnic conflicts among the peoples of the former Yugoslavia, mostly between Serbs on the one side and Croats and Bosniaks on the other; but also...

. It launched raids on Serb forces and provided airsupport for the international taskforce units conducting Operations Deny Flight
Operation Deny Flight
Operation Deny Flight was a North Atlantic Treaty Organization operation that began on April 12, 1993 as the enforcement of a United Nations no-fly zone over Bosnia and Herzegovina...

 and Deliberate Force against the Army of Republika Srpska
Army of Republika Srpska
The Army of Republika Srpska ; Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian Vojska Republike Srpske ) also referred to as the Bosnian Serb Army, was the military of today's Republika Srpska which was then the "Serbian Republic of Bosnia and Herzegovina", a self-proclaimed state within the internationally recognized...

. On 16 April 1994, a Sea Harrier of the 801 Naval Air Squadron, operating from the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal
HMS Ark Royal (R07)
HMS Ark Royal is a decommissioned light aircraft carrier and former flagship of the Royal Navy. She was the third and final vessel of Invincible-class...

, was brought down by a SAM fired by Army of Republika Srpska while attempting to bomb two Serbian tanks. The pilot, Lieutenant Nick Richardson, ejected and landed in the territory controlled by friendly Bosnian Muslims.

It was used again in 1999 NATO campaign against Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in Operation Allied Force
Operation Allied Force
The NATO bombing of Yugoslavia was NATO's military operation against the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia during the Kosovo War. The strikes lasted from March 24, 1999 to June 10, 1999...

, Sea Harriers which operated from HMS Invincible
HMS Invincible (R05)
HMS Invincible was a British light aircraft carrier, the lead ship of three in her class in the Royal Navy. She was launched on 3 May 1977 and is the seventh ship to carry the name. She saw action in the Falklands War when she was deployed with , she took over as flagship of the British fleet when...

 frequently patrolled the airspace to keep Yugoslavian MiGs on the ground. They were also deployed to Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone , officially the Republic of Sierra Leone, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Guinea to the north and east, Liberia to the southeast, and the Atlantic Ocean to the west and southwest. Sierra Leone covers a total area of and has an estimated population between 5.4 and 6.4...

 on board HMS Illustrious
HMS Illustrious (R06)
HMS Illustrious is the second of three Invincible-class light aircraft carriers built for the Royal Navy in the late 1970s and early 1980s. She is the fifth warship and second aircraft carrier to bear the name Illustrious, and is affectionately known as "Lusty" to her crew...

 in 2000, which was itself part of a Royal Navy convoy to supply and reinforce British intervention forces in the region.

Royal Navy retirement

The Sea Harrier was withdrawn from service in 2006 and the last remaining aircraft from 801 Naval Air Squadron
801 Naval Air Squadron
801 Naval Air Squadron was a Fleet Air Arm squadron of the Royal Navy formed in 1933 which fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Falklands War.- Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Air Force:...

 were decommissioned on 29 March 2006. The plans for retirement were announced in 2002 by the Ministry of Defence
Ministry of Defence (United Kingdom)
The Ministry of Defence is the United Kingdom government department responsible for implementation of government defence policy and is the headquarters of the British Armed Forces....

. The aircraft's replacement, the F-35 Lightning II
F-35 Lightning II
The Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II is a family of single-seat, single-engine, fifth generation multirole fighters under development to perform ground attack, reconnaissance, and air defense missions with stealth capability...

, was originally due in 2012, the MoD arguing that significant expenditure would be required to upgrade the fleet for only six years of service. By March 2010, the F-35's introduction had been pushed back to 2016 at the earliest, with the price doubled. The decision to retire the Sea Harrier early has been criticised by some officers within the military.

Both versions of Harrier experienced reduced engine performance (Pegasus Mk 106 in FA2 – Mk 105 in GR7) in the higher ambient temperatures of the Middle East, which restricted the weight of payload that the Harrier could return to the carrier in 'vertical' recoveries. This was due to the safety factors associated with aircraft "land-on" weights. The natural option – to install higher-rated Pegasus engines – would not be as straightforward as the Harrier GR7 upgrade and would likely be an expensive and slow process. Furthermore, the Sea Harriers were subject to a generally more hostile environment than land-based Harriers, with corrosive salt spray a particular problem. A number of aircraft were retained by the School of Flight Deck Operations at RNAS Culdrose; in theory these could be regenerated.

The Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm
Fleet Air Arm
The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King and Westland Lynx helicopters...

 will continue to share the other component of Joint Force Harrier
Joint Force Harrier
Joint Strike Wing, previously known as Joint Force Harrier, was the British military formation which controlled the STOVL Harrier aircraft of the Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm...

, the Harrier GR7
RAF Harrier II
The British Aerospace/McDonnell Douglas Harrier II is a second-generation vertical/short takeoff and landing jet aircraft used previously by the Royal Air Force and, between 2006–2010, the Royal Navy. Derived from the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II, which was a development of the Hawker...

 and the upgraded Harrier GR9
RAF Harrier II
The British Aerospace/McDonnell Douglas Harrier II is a second-generation vertical/short takeoff and landing jet aircraft used previously by the Royal Air Force and, between 2006–2010, the Royal Navy. Derived from the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II, which was a development of the Hawker...

 with the RAF, with the two front-line squadrons, 800 NAS re-commissioned in 6 April and 801 NAS are expected to reform in 2007 both using the GR9 by 2007. The projected purchase of around 150 F-35s will be split between the two services and they will operate from the Royal Navy's Future Carrier
Royal Navy CVF programme
The Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers are a two-ship class of aircraft carrier being built for the Royal Navy. HMS Queen Elizabeth is expected to enter service in 2016 and HMS Prince of Wales in 2020. HMS Queen Elizabeth will not be built to a CATOBAR configuration, but the second ship HMS...

 (CVF).

Indian Navy

India purchased 30 Sea Harriers in 1983, using 25 of these for operational flying and the remaining to train pilots. A further ten Sea Harriers were purchased in November 1985. Sea Harriers in Indian service operated from the aircraft carriers INS Vikrant (ex-HMS Hercules) and INS Viraat
INS Viraat
INS Viraat is a Centaur class aircraft carrier currently in service with the Indian Navy. INS Viraat is the flagship of the Indian Navy, the oldest carrier in service and one of two aircraft carriers in the Indian Ocean Region.The Viraat was completed and commissioned in 1959 as the Royal Navy's...

 (ex-HMS Hermes). There have been a significant number of accidents involving the Sea Harrier; this accident rate has caused more than half the fleet to be lost with only 11 fighters remaining in service. Following a crash in August 2009, all Sea Harriers were temporarily grounded for inspection. Since the beginning of operational service in the Indian Navy, seven pilots have died in 17 crashes involving the Sea Harrier, usually during routine sorties.
The Indian Navy
Indian Navy
The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. The President of India serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff , usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the Navy...

 is in the process of upgrading up to fifteen Sea Harriers in collaboration with Israel
Israel
The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

 by installing the Elta
Elta
ELTA Systems LTD is an Israeli provider of defense products and services specializing in radar, C4ISTAR, RF, SIGINT and EW products.Elta, a group and subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, is one of Israel's major defence electronics companies specializing in a variety of fields...

 EL/M-2032
EL/M-2032
The EL/M-2032 is an advanced pulse Doppler, multimode Fire Control Radar intended for multi-role fighter aircraft originated from the Lavi project. It is suitable for air-to-air and air-to-surface modes....

 radar and the Rafael 'Derby' medium range air to air missile. This will enable the Sea Harrier to remain in Indian service until beyond 2012, and also see limited service off the new carriers it will acquire by that time frame. Although India plans to ultimately supplement and replace the Sea Harrier with Russian MiG-29K
Mikoyan MiG-29K
The Mikoyan MiG-29K is an all-weather carrier-based multirole fighter aircraft developed by the Mikoyan design bureau. The MiG-29K was developed in the late 1980s from MiG-29M....

 carrier fighters, the Indian Navy expressed interest in acquiring up to eight of the Royal Navy's retired Sea Harrier FA2s in order to maintain their operational Sea Harrier fleet, which consists of 13 Pegasus 104-powered Sea Harrier FRS51s. The deal excluded ongoing support from both BAE Systems and Rolls Royce. The sale would not have transferred the Sea Harrier FA2's Blue Vixen radar, the radar warning receiver
Radar warning receiver
Radar warning receiver systems detect the radio emissions of radar systems. Their primary purpose is to issue a warning when a radar signal that might be a threat is detected. The warning can then be used, manually or automatically, to evade the detected threat...

 or AMRAAM
AIM-120 AMRAAM
The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM , is a modern beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capable of all-weather day-and-night operations. Designed with the same form-factor as the previous generation of semi-active guided Sparrow missiles, it is a fire-and-forget...

 capability. Certain US software would also have been deleted from the aircraft prior to shipment. By 13 October 2006 it had been reported that the deal had not materialised due to the cost of re-equipping the airframes.

Variants

Sea Harrier FRS1 : 57 FRS1s were delivered between 1978 and 1988; most survivors converted to Sea Harrier FA2 specifications from 1988.

Harrier T4N : The Harrier T4N is a two-seat naval version of the Harrier T2, used by the Royal Navy for land-based pilot conversion training towards the Sea Harrier FRS1.

Sea Harrier Mk51 : Single-seat fighter, reconnaissance and attack aircraft made for the Indian Navy, similar to the British FRS1. Unlike the FRS1 Sea Harrier, it is fitted with Matra R550 Magic
R550 Magic
The R.550 Magic is a short-range missile designed in 1968 by French company Matra to compete with the American AIM-9 Sidewinder. On 11 January 1972, a Gloster Meteor of the centre for in-flight trials fired the R550 Magic and shot down a Nord CT20 target drone .Mass-produced from 1976, the Magic...

 air-to-air missiles.

Harrier T60 : Export version of the T4N two-seat training version for the Indian Navy.

Sea Harrier FA2 : Upgrade of FRS1 fleet in 1988, featuring the Blue Vixen Pulse-Doppler radar
Pulse-doppler radar
Pulse-Doppler is a 4D radar system capable of detecting both target 3D location as well as measuring radial velocity . It uses the Doppler effect to avoid overloading computers and operators as well as to reduce power consumption...

 and the AIM-120 AMRAAM
AIM-120 AMRAAM
The AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile, or AMRAAM , is a modern beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile capable of all-weather day-and-night operations. Designed with the same form-factor as the previous generation of semi-active guided Sparrow missiles, it is a fire-and-forget...

 missile.

Harrier T8 : Seven Harrier T4s two-seat trainers updated with Sea Harrier FA2 instrumentation.

Operators

  • Indian Navy
    Indian Navy
    The Indian Navy is the naval branch of the armed forces of India. The President of India serves as the Commander-in-Chief of the Navy. The Chief of Naval Staff , usually a four-star officer in the rank of Admiral, commands the Navy...

    • Indian Naval Air Squadron 300 'White Tigers'


Former operators
UK
  • Fleet Air Arm
    Fleet Air Arm
    The Fleet Air Arm is the branch of the British Royal Navy responsible for the operation of naval aircraft. The Fleet Air Arm currently operates the AgustaWestland Merlin, Westland Sea King and Westland Lynx helicopters...

    • 800 Naval Air Squadron – disbanded 2006
    • 801 Naval Air Squadron
      801 Naval Air Squadron
      801 Naval Air Squadron was a Fleet Air Arm squadron of the Royal Navy formed in 1933 which fought in World War II, the Korean War and the Falklands War.- Fleet Air Arm of the Royal Air Force:...

       – disbanded 2006
    • 809 Naval Air Squadron
      809 Naval Air Squadron
      -WWII:Formed in January 1941 at St Merryn with 12 Fairey Fulmars, the squadron embarked in HMS Victorious in July 1941. At first involved in operations against Petsamo and Bodø, and then the convoys to North Russia, Victorious and her air group fought in the Mediterranean from July 1942, including...

       – disbanded 1982
    • 899 Naval Air Squadron – disbanded 2006

Survivors

United Kingdom
  • Sea Harrier FA2 ZE694, Midland Air Museum
    Midland Air Museum
    The Midland Air Museum is situated just outside the village of Baginton in Warwickshire, England, and is adjacent to Coventry Airport. The museum includes the Sir Frank Whittle Jet Heritage Centre , where many exhibits are on display in a large hangar...

    , Coventry
    Coventry
    Coventry is a city and metropolitan borough in the county of West Midlands in England. Coventry is the 9th largest city in England and the 11th largest in the United Kingdom. It is also the second largest city in the English Midlands, after Birmingham, with a population of 300,848, although...

    .
  • Two Sea Harriers, Sea Harrier FRS1 XZ493/001/N and Sea Harrier FA2 (XZ499) are on display at the Fleet Air Arm Museum
    Fleet Air Arm Museum
    The Fleet Air Arm Museum is located north of Yeovil, and south of Bristol. It has an extensive collection of military and civilian aircraft, as well as models of Royal Navy ships, especially aircraft carriers. Some of the museum has interactive displays...

     at Yeovilton
    Yeovilton
    Yeovilton is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England, situated east of Ilchester, north of Yeovil, in the South Somerset district. The village has a population of approximately 670....

    .


United States
  • Sea Harrier FA2 serial number XZ439, Hawker-Siddeley build number 912002 Nalls Aviation St Mary's County, Maryland
    Maryland
    Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

    .
  • A single Sea Harrier is privately owned and flying. The Sea Harrier FA2 was purchased for $1.5M from the RN in 2006 by Art Nalls who spent the next two years restoring it to flying condition. In December 2007 it suffered a hard landing while undergoing testing at Naval Air Station Patuxent River
    Naval Air Station Patuxent River
    "Pax River" redirects here. For the river, see Patuxent River.Naval Air Station Patuxent River , also known as NAS Pax River, is a United States Naval Air Station located in St. Mary's County, Maryland on the Chesapeake Bay near the mouth of the Patuxent River. It is home to the U.S...

     and damage had to be repaired. The aircraft made its first public appearance at an air show in Culpeper, Virginia
    Culpeper, Virginia
    Culpeper is an incorporated town in Culpeper County, Virginia, United States. The population was 9,664 at the 2000 census. It is the county seat of Culpeper County. Culpeper is part of the Culpeper Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Culpeper County. Both the Town of Culpeper and...

     in October 2008.

Specifications (Sea Harrier FA2)

Notable appearances in media

The Harrier's unique characteristics have led to it being featured a number of films and video games.

See also

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.
 
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