BAE Harrier II

BAE Harrier II

infobox Aircraft
name = Harrier GR5 / GR7 / GR9
type = V/STOL strike aircraft
manufacturer = British Aerospace / McDonnell Douglas
BAE Systems / Boeing

caption = A Naval Strike Wing Harrier GR7A in Gloucestershire, England
designer =
first flight =
introduced =
retired =
status =
primary user = Royal Air Force
more users = Royal Navy
produced =
number built =
unit cost =
developed from = Hawker Siddeley Harrier
variants with their own articles = AV-8B Harrier II

The BAE Systems/Boeing Harrier II (GR5, GR7, and GR9 series) is a second generation vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) jet aircraft used by the British Royal Air Force (RAF) and, since 2006, the Royal Navy. It was developed from the earlier Hawker Siddeley Harrier and is closely related to the U.S.-built AV-8B Harrier II. Both are primarily used for light attack or multi-role tasks, and are often operated from small aircraft carriers.

Design and development

Development of a successor to the first Harrier began as a cooperative effort between McDonnell Douglas (U.S.) and Hawker Siddeley (UK). Cost overruns eventually led Hawker to withdraw from the project, but work continued due to U.S. interest in the aircraft. Britain re-entered development in the late 1970s, producing their own version of the Harrier II based on the U.S. design. For UK variants, BAE Systems is the prime contractor and Boeing a sub-contractor.

The Harrier II is an extensively modified version of the first generation Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR1/GR3 series which first flew in December 1967. The original aluminium alloy fuselage was replaced by a fuselage which makes extensive use of composites, providing significant weight reduction and increased payload or range. An all-new one-piece wing provides around 14 per cent more area and increased thickness.


The cockpit is fully integrated for day and night operability and is equipped with head-up (HUD) and head-down displays (MHDDs), a digital moving map, an Inertial Navigation System (INS), and a Hands-On Throttle and Stick system (HOTAS).

The pilot flies the aircraft by means of a conventional centre stick and left-hand throttle.

Operational history

In RAF service, Harriers are used in the ground attack and reconnaissance roles. Unlike the Harrier AV8B+ upgrade, the RAF have chosen not to integrate a radar into its aircraft, although the aircraft retains an Inertial Navigation System. The primary air-to-air missile (AAM) of the Harrier is the infrared-homing AIM-9 Sidewinder (the combination of Harrier and Sidewinder proved effective against Argentinian Mirages in the Falklands conflict), but it does not carry the medium range AIM-120 AMRAAM missile.

With the retirement of the Sea Harrier, it had been suggested that its Blue Vixen radar could be transferred to the GR9 fleet. However, the Ministry of Defence rejected this as risky and too expensive. The Armed Forces Minister Adam Ingram estimated that the cost would be in excess of £600m.House of Commons Hansard, [] Written Answers] , 5 January 2004.]

The Harrier GR7 formed the spearhead of the RAF's contribution to Operation Allied Force, the NATO mission in Kosovo. During this campaign the RAF identified significant shortcomings in its current arsenal. As a result the service ordered the AGM-65 Maverick stand-off missile and the Enhanced Paveway which incorporates GPS guidance which would negate the effects of smoke and bad weather. Using updated ordnance as well as unguided iron and cluster munitions, RAF Harrier GR7s played a prominent role in Operation Telic, the UK contribution to the U.S.-led war against Iraq in 2003. RAF GR7s participated in strike and close air support missions throughout the conflict. The first operational deployment of the Harrier GR9 was in January 2007 at Kandahar in Afghanistan as part of the NATO International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). Harrier GR7s were deployed to Afghanistan in 2006 as part of the expanded ISAF mission in the south of Afghanistan. Reflecting the increased pace of operations, RAF Harrier GR7As saw a large increase in munitions used, mainly CRV7 rockets and laser guided bombs, used supporting ground forces since July 2006. Between July and September, the theatre total for munitions deployed by British Harriers on planned operations and Close Air Support to ground forces rose from 179 to 539. []


With the withdrawal of the Royal Navy's Sea Harrier in 2006, the RAF's Harrier fleet is tasked with the missions that it used to share with those aircraft. In 2006, the GR9 also entered service with the Fleet Air Arm when the first former Sea Harrier squadron reformed. The GR9 is expected to stay in service at least until 2015, when the first F-35s are due. At this point, the Joint Strike Fighter should be gaining an initial operational capability.


Since 1969, 824 Harrier variants have been delivered.Fact|date=May 2008

;GR5:The GR5 was the RAF's first second-generation Harrier, with development beginning in 1976. Two AV-8As were modified to Harrier II standard in 1979 and operated as development aircraft. The first BAE built development GR5 flew for the first time on 30 April, 1985 and the aircraft entered service in July 1987. The GR5 differed from the USMC AV-8B in many subtle ways, for example avionics fit, weapons and countermeasures. Forty one GR5s were built.

;GR5A:The GR5A was a minor variant of the Harrier which incorporated changes in the design in anticipation of the GR7 upgrade. Twenty-one GR5As were built.

;GR7:The GR7 had its maiden flight in May 1990 and made its first operational deployment in August 1995 over the former Yugoslavia. While the GR7 deployed on Invincible class aircraft carriers during testing as early as June 1994, the first operational deployments at sea began in 1997. This arrangement was formalised with the Joint Force Harrier, operating with the Royal Navy's Sea Harrier.


The GR7A is the first stage in an upgrade to the Harrier GR9 standard. The GR7A is the GR7 with an uprated Rolls-Royce Pegasus 107 engine. When upgraded to GR9 standard the uprated engine variants will retain the A designation, becoming GR9As. Forty GR7s are due to receive this upgrade. The Mk 107 engine provides around 3,000 lbf (13 kN) extra thrust than the Mk 105's 21,750 lbf (98 kN) thrust, increasing aircraft performance during "hot and high" and carrier-borne operations.

;GR9:The Harrier GR9 is an avionics and weapons upgrade of the standard GR7. This upgrade, known as the Integrated Weapons Programme (IWP), allows the carriage of the latest smart weapons, new inertial navigation and Global Positioning systems (INS/GPS). The new weapons being integrated are the Brimstone, Maverick, Paveway III LGB and Paveway IV PGB missiles.

The aircraft will also be fitted with Sniper targeting pods. In July 2007, BAE Systems completed the final of seven Harrier GR9 replacement rear fuselages for the UK MoD. The fuselage components were designed and built as part of a three year £20 million programme. []

;GR9A:The Harrier GR9A is an avionics and weapons upgrade of the uprated engined GR7As.

;T10:The Harrier T10 is the original two seat training variant of the second-generation RAF Harrier. The RAF considered upgrading the first-generation Harrier trainer, the T4, to Harrier II standard. However due to the age of the airframes and the level of modification required, the service decided to order new build Harrier II trainers. The RAF used the USMC trainer, the TAV-8B, as the basis for the design. Unlike their American counterparts the T10s are fully combat capable. Thirteen aircraft were built.

;T12:With the upgrades bringing the GR7s to GR9 standard, the RAF requires representative trainers. These aircraft will be the T12, the T10s with the IWP upgrade.


* Royal Air Force
** No. 1 Squadron
**No. 3 Squadron (until 2006)
** No. IV Squadron
** No. 20 Squadron
** RAF SAOEU Strike Attack Operational Evaluation Unit
* Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm
** Naval Strike Wing

pecifications (Harrier GR7)

aircraft specifications

plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet

ref=Norden [Norden 2006, Appendix C.]
length main=46 ft 4 in
length alt=14.12 m
span main=30 ft 4 in
span alt=9.25 m
height main=11 ft 8 in
height alt=3.56 m
area main= 343 ft²
area alt= 22.6 m²
wing area=
empty weight main=12,500 lb
empty weight alt=5,700 kg
loaded weight main=15,703 lb
loaded weight alt= 7,123 kg
max takeoff weight main= 18,950 lb VTO, 31,000 lb STO [ RAF Cottesmore Station Harrier Specifications] ]
max takeoff weight alt= 8,595 kg VTO, 14,061 kg STO

engine (jet)=Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk. 105
type of jet=turbofan with four thrust vectored exhaust nozzles
number of jets=1
thrust main=21,750 lb
thrust alt=96.7 kN
thrust original=
afterburning thrust main=
afterburning thrust alt=
more general=Upgraded powerplant:Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk. 107, 24,750 lb (104 kN) for GR7A

max speed main=662 mph
max speed alt=1,065 km/h
range main=
range alt=
combat radius main= 300 nmi
combat radius alt= 556 km
combat radius more=
ferry range main=2,015 mi
ferry range alt=
ferry range more=
ceiling main=50,000 ft
ceiling alt=15,000 m
climb rate main=14,715 ft/min
climb rate alt= 74.8 m/s
loading main=
loading alt=
more performance=

guns= 2x 30 mm ADEN cannons (one per pod)

bombs=selectionfrom Paveway 2, Paveway III LGB, Paveway IV PGB, 540 lb gravity bomb, 1000 lb gravity bomb and 3 kg and 14 kg practice bombs
missiles=selection from Maverick, Brimstone, Sidewinder, ASRAAM

rockets=CRV7 rocket pod
avionics=*Joint Reconnaissance Pod

Popular culture

The Harrier's unique characteristics have led to it being featured a number of films and video games.

ee also

* Hawker Siddeley Harrier
* BAE Sea Harrier
* AV-8B Harrier II

similar aircraft=
* Boeing X-32
* F-35 Lightning II
* Yakovlev Yak-38

* List of active United Kingdom military aircraft

see also=
* Harrier Jump Jet, an overview of the Harrier family


* Jenkins, Dennis R. "Boeing / BAe Harrier", Specialty Press, 1998. ISBN 1-58007-014-0.
* Norden, Lon O. "Harrier II, Validating V/STOL". Annapolis: Naval Institute Press, 2006. ISBN 1-59114-536-8.

External links

* [ Photos of this aircraft on]
* [ Photographs of Harrier G R Mk 7 deployed aboard HMS Illustrious]
* [ UK MoD Release lauds No. 1 Squadron & No. 3 Squadron's role in Afghanistan with GR7As (August 10, 2005)]
* [ Defense Industry Daily: AV-8B Harrier finding Success in Iraq (March 30, 2005)]

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