British Aerospace Harrier

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  • Single-seat attack aircraft

  • Unique vertical take-off and landing capability

  • Laser-guided bombs

  • Reconnaissance pod also available


The British Aerospace Harrier is used by the RAF in the close air support role. In this, aircraft are usually employed in direct support of ground troops tackling such targets as enemy troop positions, tanks and artillery. The Harrier uses a variety of weapons such as laser and GPS-guided bombs against buildings (Paveway), infra-red missiles against tanks (Maverick), cluster munitions and general-purpose bombs. When required, the Harrier can also be fitted with a pod fitted with cameras to provide reconnaissance of the target and battle areas.

The first Harriers entered RAF service in 1969, making the RAF the first in the world to use its revolutionary vertical take-off and landing abilities which allow the aircraft to fly in and out of areas close to the battlefield that would normally be off-limits to conventional aircraft such as the Tornado. The current versions of the Harrier are the pilot-only GR7 (which is being upgraded with more powerful engines and electronic systems to become the GR9) and the two-seat T10 which, when not used as a training aircraft, can also be used in combat.

Since 2000, the RAF's Harrier and the Royal Navy Sea Harriers have been under the organisational control of Joint Force Harrier. This has seen the RAF's aircraft deploy alongside the Sea Harriers on board aircraft carriers of the Navy on many routine training deployments as well as operations.


  • Air Interdiction (AI). Low- or medium-level attacks using precision-guided, freefall or retarded bombs.

  • Close Air Support (CAS). Air attacks against hostile targets that are in close proximity to friendly forces.

  • Reconnaissance.


Up to sixteen general-purpose bombs, four Maverick anti-tank missiles, Paveway 2 and 3 laser-guided bombs and CRV-7 rocket pods. Future attack weapons will include Brimstone anti-armour missiles and Storm Shadow cruise missiles. For self-defence, two AIM-9L Sidewinders or Advanced Short-Range Air-to-Air missiles (ASRAAM) can be carried. The Joint Reconnaissance Pod, when fitted, is mounted under the centre fuselage.

Harrier Specifications
One Rolls-Royce Pegasus vectored thrust turbofan

46ft 4in (14.12m)

30ft 4in (9.24m)

Top Speed:
661mph (1,065km/h)

Crew of 1 or 2