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British Aerospace Harrier II

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The British Aerospace Harrier II was a second-generation vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) jet aircraft used previously by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and, between 2006 and 2010, the Royal Navy (RN). The aircraft was the latest development of the Harrier Jump Jet family, and was derived from the McDonnell-Douglas AV-8B Harrier II. Initial deliveries of the Harrier II were designated in service as Harrier GR5; subsequently upgraded airframes were redesignated accordingly as GR7 and GR9.

Under the Joint Force Harrier organization, both the RAF and RN operated the Harrier II, including routine operational deployments on board the navy's Invincible-class through deck cruisers. The Harrier II participated in numerous conflicts, making significant contributions in combat theatres such as Iraq, South Africa, Kosovo, and Afghanistan. The type's main function was as a platform for air interdiction and close air support missions; the Harrier II was also used for presence projection and reconnaissance duties. The Harrier II served alongside the Sea Harrier in Joint Force Harrier.

The Harrier is being replaced by the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II in both RAF and RN service.

Variants[edit]

  • GR.5: The GR5 was the RAF's first model of the second-generation Harrier. The GR5 considerably differed from the USMC AV-8B in terms of avionics, armaments and countermeasures. Forty one GR5s were built.
  • GR.5A: The GR5A was a minor variant, incorporating design changes in anticipation of the GR7 upgrade. Twenty-one GR5As were built.
  • GR.5K: GR5/5A with the wing area expanded to 250 square feet (23.23 m2)
  • GR.7: The GR7 is an upgraded model of the GR5K. The first GR7 conducted its maiden flight in May 1990, and made its first operational deployment in August 1995 over the former Yugoslavia.
  • GR.7A: The GR7A feature an uprated Pegasus 107 engine. GR7As upgraded to GR9 standard retain the A designation as GR9As. The Mk 107 engine provides around 3,000 lbf (13 kN) extra thrust over the Mk 105's 21,750 lbf (98 kN) thrust.
  • GR.9: The GR9 is an upgrade of the GR7, focused on the Harrier II's avionics and weapons. Upgraded under the JUMP programme.
  • GR.9A: The Harrier GR9A is an avionics and weapons upgrade of the uprated engined GR7As. All GR9s were capable of accepting the Mk 107 Pegasus engine to become GR9As.
  • T.10: The Harrier T10 is the first two seat training variant of the Harrier II; based on the USMC Harrier trainer the TAV-8B. Unlike their American counterparts, the T10s are fully combat-capable.
  • T.12: Update of the trainers to accompany the GR9. Nine T10 aircraft received the JUMP updates under the designation T12, however these would retain the less powerful Pegasus 105 engine.
  • T.12A: Equivalent to the T.12, however differs by being equipped with the newer and more powerful Mk 107 Pegasus engine of the GR7A/9A.

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