Hawker Siddeley Harrier

TypeV/STOL ground-attack
Country of originUnited Kingdom
ManufacturerHawker Siddeley
First flight28 December 1967
Introduced1 April 1969
Numbers built278 units
Unit costs- data not available -
Max speed730 mph (635 knots, 1,176 km/h) at sea level
Max rangeCombat radius: 230 mi (200 nmi, 370 km) lo-lo-lo with 4,400 lb (2,000 kg) payload
Ferry range: 2,129 mi (1,850 nmi, 3,425 km)
DimensionsLength: 46 ft 10 in (14.27 m)
Wingspan: 25 ft 3 in (7.70 m)
Height: 11 ft 11 in (3.63 m)
WeightEmpty weight: 13,535 lb (6,140 kg)
Max takeoff weight: 25,200 lb (11,430 kg)
Powerplant1 × Rolls-Royce Pegasus 103 turbofan with four swivelling nozzles, 21,500 lbf (95.6 kN) Four vertical flight puffer jets use engine bleed air, mounted in the nose, wingtips, and tail.
ArmamentGuns: 2× 30 mm (1.18 in) ADEN cannon pods under the fuselage

Hardpoints: 4× under-wing & 1× under-fuselage pylon stations with a capacity of 5,000 lb (2,268 kg) and provisions to carry combinations of:

Rockets: 4× Matra rocket pods with 18× SNEB 68 mm rockets each

Missiles: 2× AIM-9 Sidewinders Air-to-air missiles

Bombs: A variety of unguided iron bombs, BL755 cluster bombs or laser guided bombs

1× Reconnaissance pod
2× drop tanks for extended range/loitering time
OperatorsCurrent operator:
Royal Thai Navy – Thailand

Former operators:
India, Spain, United Kingdom, United States

The Hawker Siddeley Harrier was a phenomenal military aircraft as it was the first operational close-support and reconnaissance fighter aircraft using vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) capabilities and the only truly successful V/STOL design of the several aircrafts that came in 1960s. Some call this fighter as Harrier Jump Jet citing its ability to ‘jump and hover’ just like a helicopter. The pilots of this V/STOL fighter usually are experienced and skilled helicopter pilots, preferably they who are able to fly fixed-wing aircraft and helicopter.

The Hawker Siddeley, a U.K.-based aircraft builder, developed it in 1960s to answer the need of the Royal Air Force to its future plan replacing the Hawker Hunter. The Harrier was build based on the Hawker Siddeley Kestrel prototypes after the cancellation of a more advanced supersonic aircraft, the Hawker Siddeley P.1154. The Royal Air Force got the Harrier GR.1 and GR.3 variants in the late 1960s. In the 1970s, the Harrier was exported to the United States as the AV-8A, for use by the US Marine Corps.

During the Cold War, the Royal Air Force deployed some squadron of Harriers in West Germany to defend against a potential strike of Western Europe by the Soviet Union. In the U.S., the U.S. Marine Corps utilized their Harriers usually for close air support, moving from amphibious assault ships and forward operating bases.

Despite it’s a popular jet fighter, the Harrier accepted criticism for possessing a high accident rate and for a time-consuming maintenance process.

Design, development and production history

The Harrier was developed from the design of Hawker P.1127. Hawker Siddeley earned an order for six pre-production aircraft in 1965, designated P.1127 (RAF), of which the first made its maiden flight on 31 August 1966. An order for another 60 aircrafts, designated as Harrier GR.1, was granted in early 1967. The Harrier GR.1 made its first flight on 28 December 1967. It officially entered service with the RAF on 18 April 1969 when the Harrier Conversion Unit at RAF Wittering received its first aircraft.

In the 1969, Hawker Siddeley and McDonnell Douglas formed a partnership in preparation for American production, leading to the development of the AV-8A Harriers. The USMC received 102 AV-8A and 8 TAV-8A Harriers between 1971 and 1976.

Powered by the Rolls-Royce Pegasus turbofan jet engine which was designed specifically for V/STOL maneuvering, this ground attack aircraft could also be deployed to effectively engage other aircraft at short ranges.

The Harrier’s engine is mounted in the fuselage. The engine is fitted with two intakes and four vectoring nozzles for directing the thrust generated: two for the bypass flow and two for the jet exhaust. The Harrier is equipped with four wing and three fuselage pylons for carrying a variety of weapons and external fuel tanks.

The Harrier variants

Several variants of the Harrier are:

  • Harrier GR.1, GR.1A, GR.3 – Single-seat versions for the Royal Air Force
  • AV-8A and AV-8C Harrier – Single-seat versions for the US Marine Corps.
  • AV-8S Matador – Also called VA-1 Matador. Export version of the AV-8A Harrier for the Spanish Navy.
  • Harrier T.2, T.2A, T.4, T.4A – Two-seat training versions for the Royal Air Force.
  • Harrier T.4N, T.8, T.60 – Two-seat training versions for the Royal Navy and Indian Navy.
  • TAV-8A Harrier – Two-seat training version for the US Marine Corps.
  • TAV-8S Matador – Two-seat training version for the Spanish Navy and the Royal Thai Navy.

Harrier videos

How the Harrier hovers

2009 MCAS Miramar Airshow – AV-8B Harrier Demonstration

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