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Post War military aircraft

 

HAWKER HARRIER (1969 - DATE)

Harrier GR3 XV786/E of 4 Sqn taking off from a clearing in Germany (BAe)

Harrier GR3 XV786/E of 4 Sqn taking off from a clearing in Germany (BAe)

Following the success of the P.1127/Kestrel in demonstrating the viability of VTOL for a close support combat aircraft the type was ordered into production in mid 1966. Six development and 60 production aircraft were ordered. Whereas the Kestrel embodied about 50% of the structure of the P.1127, the Harrier was in many respects a new aircraft re-engineered around the more powerful Pegasus 101 engine.

First development Harrier XV276

First development Harrier XV276

GR Mark 1 The P.1127/7 first flew on 31 August 1966 (XV276) and the first six development batch machines went to the manufacturer and Boscombe Down for intensive trials, development and weapons work. The first production aircraft (XV738) flew on 28 December 1967 and in January 1969 the Harrier Conversion Team was formed which in turn became the Conversion Unit at Wittering. It was there that the first VTOL squadron in the world, appropriately No 1, was formed in July 1969. The GR Mk 1 was fitted with four underwing and one fuslage pylons to accommodate a total of 5,000lbs of bombs or rockets. In addition a pair of Aden 30mm cannon could be carried in detachable under-fuselage pods.

Service Close support 1, 3, 4, 20 Training HCT/HOCU; 233 OCU

GR Mk 1 XV???/19 of the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit at Chivenor in 1972 (Author)

GR Mk 1 XV???/19 of the Harrier Operational Conversion Unit at Chivenor in 1972 (Author)

XV782/C of 4 Sqn banks over the Mohne Dam in Germany (MoD)

XV782/C of 4 Sqn banks over the Mohne Dam in Germany (MoD)

GR Mark 1A Numerous GR Mk 1 aircraft were retro-fitted with the Pegasus 102 of 20,500 lbs thrust as the Mark 1A.

Service Close support 1, 3, 4, 20 Training 233 OCU

T Mark 2 The trainer was a two-seat tandem variant with nose and tail extensions of 47ins and 33ins respectively. They were fitted with an extended under-fuselage strake and later in their service lives were given taller fins. The engine was the Pegasus 101 of the GR Mk 1. The prototype (XW174) flew on 24 April 1969 and the type was issued to squadrons as well as the OCU.

Service Training 1, 3, 4; 233 OCU

XW175, the second development T Mk 2

XW175, the second development T Mk 2

T Mark 2A The Mark A designation was applied to eleven examples of the T Mk 2 fitted with the Pegasus 102 engine. Most were fitted with the taller fin.

Service Training 1, 3, 4; 233 OCU

T Mk 2A XW925/25 of the HOCU showing the taller fin

T Mk 2A XW925/25 of the HOCU showing the taller fin

GR Mark 3 The Mark 3 was developed from the GR Mk 1. As additional aircraft were ordered to cope with attrition the number of changes from the original was sufficient to merit a new designation. The more powerful Pegasus 103 of 21,500 lbs thrust was fitted and other differences were connected with sensors. The Ferranti LRMTS target seeker and marker was installed in a revised nose and a passive warning receiver on the fin. 40 new build aircraft were constructed but most were GR Mk 1/1A aircraft upgraded as they required major servicing.

Service Close support 1, 3, 4, 20; 1351, 1417, 1453 Flts; 1 HarDet T

XV785/07 of 1 Sqn (Author)

XV785/07 of 1 Sqn (Author)

Naval GR3 XZ129 of the Engineer Traiing School, seen here at Yeovilton in 1994 (Author)

Naval GR3 XZ129 of the Engineer Traiing School, seen here at Yeovilton in 1994 (Author)

Mark 4 Like the GR Mk 3, the Mark 4 was a redesignation given the number of changes to an earlier version, in this case the T Mk 2. The changes were similar to those embodied on the GR Mk 3 but the T Mk 4 reverted to the original, lower, fin of the early Mk 2. Like the Mk 2 the T Mk 4 was fully combat capable.

Service Training 1, 3, 4; 233 OCU; Gutersloh SF

T Mk 4 XW269/BD operated by the SAOEU at Boscombe Down (Author)

T Mk 4 XW269/BD operated by the SAOEU at Boscombe Down (Author)

T Mark 4A The Mark 4A was similar to the T Mk 4 but without the laser nose. The equipment was deleted to save weight, allowing increased range.

Service Training 233 OCU; RAE: 899 NAS

T Mk 4A XZ147/Z of 233 OCU with HRH Prince Charles in the rear seat (MoD)

T Mk 4A XZ147/Z of 233 OCU with HRH Prince Charles in the rear seat (MoD)

T Mark 4N The Mark 4N was built for the Royal Navy and was similar to the T Mk 4A but with the Pegasus 104 engine.

Service Training 899 NAS

XW268/720VL of 899 NAS seen in 1994 in special markings celebrating the 50th anniversary of the unit (Author)

XW268/720VL of 899 NAS seen in 1994 in special markings celebrating the 50th anniversary of the unit (Author)

Harriers GR Mk 5 ZD401/AA and GR Mk 7 ZD432/N of 20(R) Sqn, 233 OCU get airborne from Boscombe Down in 1992 (Author)

Harriers GR Mk 5 ZD401/AA and GR Mk 7 ZD432/N of 20(R) Sqn, 233 OCU get airborne from Boscombe Down in 1992 (Author)

GR Mark 5 The next variant was a major re-design sufficient to justify a new name let alone a new designation. The new type was the result of USMC pressure for a more capable aircraft, building on experience with the early Harrier (AV-8A); McDonnell Douglas was contracted to work on the new type in 1978. The RAF also required a developed aircraft and BAe designed the machine with a larger wing to specification ASR409. In the event in 1981 agreement was reached for a common type to become the AV-8B/GR-5. The GR Mk 5 was built around the Pegasus 105 engine with the new composite wing of much larger area and a revised forward fuselage and cockpit with much better visibility. Eight underwing and one underfuselage hardpoints allow the carriage of up to 9,200lbs of stores plus two 25mm cannon. The avionics includes a Litton ASN 130 inertial navigaion system, Hughes Angle Rate Bombing Set using both TV and laser trackers and Ferranti moving map display. The prototype (ZD318) flew on 30 April 1985 and the new version entered service with 1 Sqn in 1988. There were several problems in introduction into service and in the event the GR5 was an interim type pending the GR Mk 7.

Service Interdiction 1, 3, 4 Training 233 OCU Other SAOEU

Harrier 5 ZD409/06 of 1 Sqn which started its career with the Harrier in 1969 (Author)

Harrier 5 ZD409/06 of 1 Sqn which started its career with the Harrier in 1969 (Author)

Fine study of GR Mk 5 ZD377/AE of 233 OCU (MoD)

Fine study of GR Mk 5 ZD377/AE of 233 OCU (MoD)

Snow camouflaged GR Mk 5 ZD409/06 of 1 Sqn

Snow camouflaged GR Mk 5 ZD409/06 of 1 Sqn

GR Mark 5A The Mark 5A was similar to the GR Mk 5 but with fitments to GR Mk 7 standard. The airframes (nos 42-60) were placed in storage for full conversion later; the first was ZD432.

ZD468 in 1990 in interim configuration

ZD468 in 1990 in interim configuration

T Mark 6 The Mark 6 was a proposal to bring the T Mk 4 to GR Mk 7 standard with night attack avionics; it was not pursued.

GR Mark 7 The definitive 'new Harrier' is similar in nearly all respects to the GR Mk 5 but with night attack capability. This results in a slight change in the nose profile to accommodate FLIR in a fairing above the nose, while two smaller bulges below the nose house the forward Zeus ECM antennae. The aircraft is effective at night through the provision of night vision goggle (NVG) compatible instruments. Nine aircraft have been wired for the Vinten camera pod used on the GR Mk 3 but with camera changes. Armament remains as on the GR Mk 5 but with the Aden cannon still not operational at December 1994.

Service Interdiction 1, 3, 4; SAOEU/AWC Training HOCU (20)

ZG472/O of the AWC 1996 (Author)

ZG472/O of the AWC 1996 (Author)

In contrasting grey camouflage ZD402/31 of 1 Sqn blasts off the runway at Farnborough in 1998 (Author)

In contrasting grey camouflage ZD402/31 of 1 Sqn blasts off the runway at Farnborough in 1998 (Author)

GR Mk 7 coded CD of 4 Sqn taking off from a roadway in Germany (MoD)

GR Mk 7 coded CD of 4 Sqn taking off from a roadway in Germany (MoD)

T Mark 8 The Mark 8 is the designation for two T Mk 4 trainers transferred to the Royal Navy when the T Mk 10 became available to the RAF.

Service Training 899 NAS

T Mk 8 ZD993/723VL of 899 NAS in black anti-collision colours (Author)

T Mk 8 ZD993/723VL of 899 NAS in black anti-collision colours (Author)

GR Mark 9 This is the intended designation for the GR Mk 7 mid-life update with the Pegasus 11-61 (flown in ZD402 in 1989), terrain referenced navigation system and provision for the AIM-120.

T Mark 10 The Mk 10 is a tandem trainer built to match the GR Mk 7. The variant is fully combat capable, unlike the American TAV-8B, and the prototype, ZH563, flew on 7 April 1994.

Service Training 1, 3, 4; HOCU (20) Trials DTEO

Like its single seat counterpart the trainer came in two finishes - moss green or grey. Here is grey Mk 10 ZH656/104 of 3 Sqn in 1998 (Author)

Like its single seat counterpart the trainer came in two finishes - moss green or grey. Here is grey Mk 10 ZH656/104 of 3 Sqn in 1998 (Author)

Specification and production

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Notes

*             Most GR1s retrofitted to GR1A

+             T2 conversions

~             Including 62 GR1/1A conversions

#             Including 14 T2/T2A conversions

$              Including 4 T4 conversions

@            Including 49 GR5/5A conversions

^             T4N conversion

Further reading

--- Harrier World Air Power Journal Vol 6 Aerospace Publishing, London, 1991

Braybrook, R British Aerospace Harrier and Sea Harrier Osprey, London, 1984

Calvert, D J Harrier Ian Allan, London 1990 Harrier Gunston, W Ian Allan, Shepperton, 1984

Gunston, W Harrier Story, The (Air Extra) Ian Allan, London, 1979

Mason, F K Harrier Patrick Stephens, Cambridge, 1986

Shaw, M Harrier GR3 Ian Allan, 1988

 

end