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It is viewed by senior RAF officers as a significant design success that to enable and control the aircraft's vertical flight required only a single lever added in the cockpit. For horizontal flight, the nozzles are directed rearwards by shifting the lever to the forward position; for short or vertical take-offs and landings, the lever is pulled back to point the nozzles downwards. The Harrier has two control elements not found in most fixed-wing aircraft: the thrust vector and the reaction control system. The reaction control is achieved by manipulating the control stick and is similar in action to the cyclic control of a helicopter.

The wind direction is a critical factor in VTOL manoeuvres. The procedure for vertical take-off involves facing the aircraft into the wind. The throttle is trimmed until a hover state is achieved at the desired altitude. For lower take-off speeds the thrust vector is greater. The reaction control system involved a series of thrusters at key points in the aircraft's fuselage such as the wing tips and nose, thrust from the engine could be temporarily syphoned to control and correct the aircraft's pitch and roll during vertical flight.

Rotating the vectored thrust nozzles into a forward-facing position during normal flight is called vectoring in forward flight, or "VIFFing". This is a dog-fighting tactic, allowing for sudden braking and higher turn rates than would normally be possible for an aircraft with such a short wing-span.

Braking could cause a chasing aircraft to overshoot and present itself as a target for the Harrier it was chasing, a combat technique formally developed by the USMC for the Harrier in the early s. Changes included the removal of all magnesium components, which corroded quickly at sea, and the integration of American radios and Identification Friend or Foe IFF systems; furthermore the outer pylons, unlike the RAF aircraft, were designed from delivery to be equipped with self-defence AIM-9 Sidewinder heat-seeking air-to-air missiles.

Two-seat Harriers were operated for training purposes; the body was stretched and a taller tail fin added. The RAF trained in the T. Substantial changes were the Lift Improvement Devices, to increase VTOL performance; at the same time several airframe components were restored or replaced to extend the life of the aircraft. The Sea Harrier was not intended for ground-attack duties and, unlike the standard Harrier, was equipped with radar and Sidewinder missiles for air combat duties and fleet air defence.

The Sea Harrier was also fitted with navigational aids for carrier landings, modifications to reduce corrosion and a raised bubble-canopy for greater visibility.

Harrier GR3 XV808 - bringing the beast to life!

The aircraft were later equipped to use AIM AMRAAM beyond-visual-range anti-aircraft missiles and the more advanced Blue Vixen radar for longer range air-to-air combat, as well as Sea Eagle missiles for conducting anti-ship missions. This proposal would have increased the wing area from to square feet 19 to 23 m 2 , allowing for significant increases in weapons load and internal fuel reserves. The option of cooperation with MDD was chosen in over the more risky isolated approach.

An early demonstration of the Harrier's capabilities was the participation of two aircraft in the Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race in May , 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 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. One of the squadrons was disbanded and its aircraft distributed between the other two.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR Mk 3/ T Mk 4 – Aeroguide 12

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. 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 , two years after Guatemala recognized the independence of Belize.

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, the Atlantic Conveyor and Atlantic Causeway , were modified with temporary flight decks and used to carry Harriers and helicopters to the South Atlantic.

Sea Harriers were also used in the war, primarily conducting fleet air defence and combat air patrols against the threat of attacking Argentine fighters. If most of the Sea Harriers had been lost, the GR. 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. In total, four Harrier GR.

More than 2, Harrier sorties were conducted during the conflict—equivalent to six sorties per day per aircraft. 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. The United States Marine Corps began showing a significant interest in the aircraft around the time the first RAF Harrier squadron was established in , and this motivated Hawker Siddeley to further develop the aircraft to encourage a purchase. Although there were concerns in Congress about multiple coinciding projects in the close air support role, the Marine Corps were enthusiastic about the Harrier and managed to overcome efforts to obstruct its procurement.

The AV-8A entered service with the Marine Corps in , replacing other aircraft in the marines' attack squadrons. The service became interested in performing ship-borne operations with the Harrier. Admiral Elmo Zumwalt promoted the concept of a Sea Control Ship, a 15,ton light carrier equipped with Harriers and helicopters, to supplement the larger aircraft carriers of the US Navy.

An amphibious assault ship, the USS Guam , was converted into the Interim Sea Control Ship and operated as such between and with the purpose of studying the limits and possible obstacles for operating such a vessel. The latter adjoined an airfield used for flight testing; both factories have since closed. Their flight decks were designed with an upward curve to the bow, following the successful conclusion of those tests. The air combat technique of VIFFing was evolved in the Harrier - vectoring in forward flight - to out manouevre a hostile aircraft or other inbound weapon.

Hawker Siddeley Harrier T Mk.4/4N Sword

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