British Aerospace Harrier
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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
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.
Up to sixteen general-purpose bombs,
four Maverick anti-tank missiles, Paveway 2 and
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.
One Rolls-Royce Pegasus vectored thrust turbofan
46ft 4in (14.12m)
30ft 4in (9.24m)
Crew of 1 or 2