• Multi-role combat aircraft capable of vertical/short take off and landing.
• Part of Joint Force Harrier, operating from land bases or aircraft carriers.
• Comprehensive weapons capability including bombs, rockets or missile.
• Can operate at night, at low level, using night vision goggles.
• Cockpit gives navigation and weapons information on colour displays.
The Harrier GR7 is a single seat, multi-role combat aircraft that is capable of operating in extreme environments and from a wide selection of locations, including deployed air bases and aircraft carriers.
|Engine||Rolls Royce Pegasus Mk 105 vectored thrust turbofan. Thrust 21,750 lbs.|
|Weight||Max STO 14,061 kg|
Max VTO 8,595 kg
|Max Speed||575 kts (661mph)|
|Weapons||The Harrier can carry the following weapons:|
Paveway laser guided bombs, CRV-7 rockets, Maverick missiles, 1000 lb bombs, 540 lb bombs, BL755 Cluster bombs, AIM-9 Sidewinder missiles
The old RAF Harrier GR3 model famously saw operation alongside the Royal Navy during the Falklands Campaign in 1982 and the GR7 of today maintains its maritime links by working as part of Joint Force Harrier (JFH). The JFH concept was borne out of the 1998 Strategic Defence Review to bring together the management and capabilities of the RN and RAF Harrier forces. The long-term aim was to develop a force that would ultimately become the flying wing for the Joint Combat Aircraft (JCA), due in service from 2014. In 2001 the decision was taken to decommission the FA2 Sea Harrier and direct the funding into upgrading the Harrier GR7. In its role as part of JFH, the GR7 force remains ready to deploy anywhere in the world in both sea and land based operations.
A unique feature of the Harrier is its ability to vector its Pegasus engine thrust. This vectored thrust enables it to operate from short landing surfaces and to take off and land vertically. The engine exhausts its jet efflux out of 4 nozzles, which move in unison from a rearward pointing position for conventional flight to a position where they point directly below the aircraft to allow it to hover. The engine itself produces 21,500 lbs of thrust.
The flying controls work on the 'Hands-on-Throttle-and-Stick' system (HOTAS), enabling the most important weapons and avionics functions to be operated by the pilot without having to remove his hands from the controls. Information is displayed to the pilot through the Head Up Display (HUD) and is also presented on two Multi- Purpose Colour Displays (MPCDs). The pilot can use the MPCDs to display almost any system information, including the aircraft's position on a moving map display, and the weapon load he is carrying. They can also be used to display target picture information obtained from the aircraft's sensors. The picture from the Dual Mode Tracker (a six times magnification television camera that is mounted on the nose), or from the Maverick missile seeker head, can also be displayed, together with a Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator (TIALD) tracking and target picture if a TIALD pod is carried. During night operations, the Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) picture is presented on a MPCD and is also overlaid onto the HUD. All of the displays are compatible with night-vision goggles, which gives the Harrier its ability to operate at night, at low level.
When flying at low level the Harrier cruises at 420kts (480mph) and then typically increases speed to 480kts (550mph) when delivering weapons. This gives it a low level combat radius of approx 250nm. When operating at medium level it cruises at 0.75 Mach and has a combat radius of approx 350nm. These ranges vary upon the tasking requirement and weapon load carried and can be greatly increased by the use of in-flight refuelling.
The Harrier is a very capable aircraft and has proven to be a valuable asset over the past few years in many campaigns including Bosnia, Kosovo and Northern Iraq.
The GR7 is currently undergoing a series of major improvements, with changes to both the avionics and to the engine and is redesignated the GR9. This has now entered service at the start of a £500m phased capability programme. These new capabilities include the Precision Guided Bomb and the Brimstone Anti Armour weapon. This equipment programme will provide the opportunity for JFH to rapidly develop expeditionary capability appropriate to likely operational theatres over the next decade. In the longer term, JFH experience is likely to provide the foundation for Joint Combat Aircraft operations from 2 future large aircraft carriers as well as land bases.
An added level to the layered air defence will be provided by the new Type 45 Destroyer equipped with the sophisticated and lethal Principal Anti Air Missile System (PAAMS) which is capable of controlling several missiles in the air at any one time, each one of which could engage individual targets, preventing attackers from swamping the fleet's air defences.
It is intended that the Harrier force be completely replaced by the Future Joint Combat Aircraft (FJCA) also referred to as the Joint Strike Fighter which is due to enter service in 2012 and be operated from the Royal Navy's Future Aircraft Carriers (CVF).