Hawker Siddeley Harrier

Hawker Siddeley Harrier

infobox Aircraft
name = Harrier / AV-8A/C
type = VTOL strike aircraft
national origin = United Kingdom
manufacturer = Hawker Siddeley

caption = An RAF Harrier GR3 on display at Bletchley Park, England
designer =
first flight = 28 December avyear|1967 (Harrier)
introduction = 1 April avyear|1969
retired =
status =
primary user = Royal Air Force
more users = United States Marine Corps Spanish Navy Royal Thai Navy
produced = 1967 - 197?
number built = 718 [ [http://www.britishaircraft.co.uk/aircraftpage.php?ID=609 Hawker Siddeley Harrier] , British Aircraft Directory]
unit cost =
developed from = Hawker P.1127/Kestrel FGA.1
variants with their own articles = BAE Sea Harrier AV-8B Harrier II BAE Harrier II

The Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 and the AV-8A Harrier are the first generation of the Harrier series, the first operational close-support and reconnaissance fighter aircraft with Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing (V/STOL) capabilities. The Harrier was the only truly successful V/STOL design of the many that arose from the 1960s.

In the 1970s, the Harrier was developed into the radar-equipped BAE Sea Harrier for the Royal Navy. The Harrier was also extensively redesigned as the BAE Harrier II and AV-8B Harrier II, which were built by British Aerospace and McDonnell Douglas.



The Harrier's lineage began with the Hawker Siddeley P.1127. Design began in 1957 by Sir Sydney Camm, Ralph Hooper of Hawker Aviation and Stanley Hooker (later Sir Stanley) of the Bristol Engine Company. Rather than using rotors or a direct jet thrust the P.1127 had an innovative "vectored thrust" turbofan engine and the first vertical takeoff was on 21 October 1960. Six prototypes were built in total, one of which was lost at an air display.

The immediate development of the P.1127 was the Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1, which appeared after Hawker Siddeley Aviation was created. The Kestrel's first flight was on 7 March 1964. It was strictly an evaluation aircraft, and only nine were built. These equipped the Tripartite Evaluation Squadron formed at RAF West Raynham in Norfolk, numbering 10 pilots from the RAF, USA and West Germany. One aircraft was lost but the remainder transferred to the U.S. for evaluation by the Army, Air Force and Navy, designated XV-6A Kestrel.

At the time of the development of the P.1127, Hawker had started on a design for a supersonic version, the Hawker P.1154. After this was cancelled in 1965, the RAF began looking at a simple upgrade of the Kestrel as the P.1127 (RAF).

An order for 60 production aircraft was received from the RAF in mid-1966, and the first pre-production Harriers, then known as the P.1127 (RAF) were flying by mid-1967, becoming known as Harrier GR.1.


The Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1 was the first production model derived from the Kestrel, it first flew on 28 December 1967, and entered service with the RAF on 1 April 1969. Construction took place at factories in Kingston upon Thames in southwest London and at Dunsfold, Surrey. The latter adjoined an airfield used for flight testing; both factories have since closed.

The ski-jump technique for STOVL use by Harriers launched from Royal Navy aircraft carriers was tested at the Royal Navy's airfield at RNAS Yeovilton (HMS Heron), Somerset. Their flight decks were designed with an upward curve to the bow following the successful conclusion of those tests.

The Harrier GR.3 featured improved sensors (such as a laser tracker in the lengthened nose), countermeasures and a further upgraded Pegasus Mk 103 and was to be the ultimate development of the 1st generation Harrier.

The AV-8As of the United States Marine Corps were very similar to the early GR.1 version, but with the more-powerful engine of the GR.3. The aircraft was powered by a 21,500 lbf (95.6 kN) thrust Roll-Royce Pegasus Mk 103 (F402-RR-402) turbofan engine. The AV-8A was armed with two 30 mm ADEN cannons (podded under the fuselage) and two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. A total of 113 were ordered for the US Marines and the Spanish Navy.


Controls and handling

The Harrier was also a manoeuvrable and a potent air-to-air fighter, being able to out-manoeuvre other fighter aircraft then in service.Fact|date=August 2008 The air combat technique of vectoring in forward flight, or "viffing," was formally developed by the USMC in the Harrier to outmanoeuvre a hostile aircraft or other inbound weapons.Norden 2006, pp. 33–34.] Spick and Gunston 2000, pp. 382–383.]

In addition to normal flight controls, the Harrier has a lever for controlling the direction of the four vectorable nozzles. The nozzles point rearward with the lever in the forward position for horizontal flight. With the lever back, the nozzles point downward for vertical takeoff or landing. [Markman, Steve and Bill Holder. "MAC-DAC/BAe AV-8 Harrier Vectored Thrust VTOL". "Straight Up: A History of Vertical Flight". Schiffer Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-7643-1204-9.] Jenkins 1998, p. 25.]

Operational history

The first major combat experience for the Harrier in British service was during the Falklands War where both the BAE Sea Harrier FRS.1 and Harrier GR.3 were used. The Sea Harrier, developed from the GR.3, was important to the naval activities. Twenty Sea Harriers were operated from the carriers HMS "Hermes" and "Invincible" mainly for fleet air defence. Although they destroyed 21 Argentine aircraft in air combat (in part due to using the American-supplied latest variant of the Sidewinder missile and the Argentine aircraft operating at extreme range) they couldn't establish complete air superiority and prevent Argentine attacks during day or night nor stop the daily flights of C-130 Hercules transports to the islands.

Harrier GR.3s were operated by the RAF from "Hermes", and provided close support to the ground forces and attacked Argentine positions. but were unable to destroy the Stanley runway. If most of the Sea Harriers had been lost, the GR.3s would have replaced them in air patrol duties. Four Harriers GR.3s were lost to ground fire, accidents, or mechanical failure. [ [http://www.naval-history.net/F63braircraftlost.htm Harriers lost in the Falklands] ] The RAF Harriers would not see further combat, as the Hawker Siddeley airframes were replaced by the larger Harrier II developed jointly by McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace.


RAF Mildenhall.]
napalm bombs on its right wing.]

;Harrier GR.1 : The first production model derived from the Kestrel;Harrier GR.1A : Upgraded version of the GR.1, the main difference being the uprated Pegasus Mk 102 engine. Fifty-eight GR.1As entered RAF service, 17 GR.1As were produced, a further 41 GR.1s upgraded.;Harrier GR.3 : Featured improved sensors (such as a laser tracker in the lengthened nose and radar warning receiver on the fin and tail boom) and a further uprated Pegasus Mk 103. It was to be the ultimate development of the first-generation Harrier. The RAF ordered 118 of the GR.1/GR.3 series.;Harrier T.2 : Two-seat training version for the RAF.;Harrier T.2A : Upgraded T.2, powered by a Pegasus Mk 102.;Harrier T4 : Two-seat training version for the Royal Air Force, equivalent to the GR.3.;Harrier T4N : Two-seat training version for the Royal Navy.;Harrier Mk 52 : Two-seat company demonstrator, one built.;AV-8A Harrier : Single-seat ground-attack, close air support, reconnaissance, and fighter aircraft; similar to the earlier GR.1, but with the GR.3 engine. 113 ordered for the U.S. Marines. Company designation Harrier Mk 50.;AV-8C : Upgraded AV-8A for the U.S. Marine Corps.;AV-8S Matador : Export version of the AV-8A Harrier for the Spanish Navy, later sold to the Royal Thai Navy. Spanish Navy designation VA-1 Matador. Company designation Harrier Mk 53 for the first production batch, and Mk 55 for the second batch.;TAV-8A Harrier : Two-seater training version for the US Marine Corps. The TAV-8A Harrier was powered by a 21,500 lb Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk 103 turbofan engine. Company designation Harrier Mk 54.;TAV-8S Matador : Export version of the TAV-8A Harrier for the Spanish Navy. Later sold to the Royal Thai Navy. Spanish Navy designation VAE-1 Matador. Company designation Harrier Mk 54.


* Spanish Navy
** No. 008 Escuadrilla - AV-8S and TAV-8S Matador

* Royal Thai Navy
** Squadron 1 Wing3 (HTMS Chakri Naruebet Flying Unit) - AV-8S and TAV-8S

* Royal Air Force
** No. 1 Squadron RAF
** No. 3 Squadron RAF
** No. IV Squadron RAF
** No. 20 Squadron RAF
** No. 233 Operational Conversion Unit RAF
** No. 1417 Flight RAF - Deployed to the Central American nation of Belize from 1981 to 1993.
** No. 1453 Flight RAF - Deployed to Stanley, in the Falklands Islands from June 1982 to 1985.

* United States Marine Corps
** VMA-231 - AV-8A/C Harrier
** VMA-513 - AV-8A/C Harrier
** VMA-542 - AV-8A/C Harrier
** VMAT-203 - AV-8A and TAV-8A Harrier

pecifications (Harrier GR.1)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet
length main=45 ft 7 in
length alt=13.90 m
span main=25 ft 3 in
span alt=7.70 m
height main=11 ft 4 in
height alt=3.45 m
area main=201 ft²
area alt=18.68 m²
empty weight main=12,190 lb
empty weight alt=5,530 kg
loaded weight main=17,260 lb
loaded weight alt= 7,830 kg
max takeoff weight main=25,350 lb
max takeoff weight alt=11,500 kg
engine (jet)=Rolls-Royce Pegasus 101
type of jet=turbofan with four swivelling nozzles
number of jets=1
thrust main=19,000 lbf
thrust alt=84.5 kN
thrust more=Four vertical flight puffer jets use engine bleed air, mounted in the nose, wingtips, and tail, and provide up to 1,000 lbf (4 kN) of thrust.
max speed main=735 mph (Mach 0.97)
max speed alt=1,185 km/h
range main=1200 mi
range alt= 1900 km
combat radius main=260 mi
combat radius alt=418 km
combat radius more=on strike mission without drop tanks (hi-lo-hi)
ceiling main=49,200 ft
ceiling alt= 15,000 m
climb rate main= 2 min 23 sec to 40,000 ft or initial climb (VTOL weight) 50,000ft/min
climb rate alt= 15,240 m/min [Gunston and Spick 1983, p. 84.]
loading main=
loading alt=

guns=2x 30 mm ADEN cannon pods under the fuselage
rockets=4× Matra rocket pods with 18× SNEB 68 mm rockets each
missiles=2× AIM-9 Sidewinders
bombs=5,000 lb (2,268 kg) of payload on five external hardpoints, including a variety of bombs, reconnaissance pods (such as the Joint Reconnaissance Pod), drop tanks or the Anglo-French AS-37 Martel missiles.

Popular culture

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

urvivors / museum exhibits

* Type GR.3 is on display at the Flugausstellung Leo Junior at Hermeskeil in Germany

ee also

* Hawker P.1127/Kestrel FGA.1
* BAE Sea Harrier
* AV-8B Harrier II
* BAE Harrier II
similar aircraft=
* Rockwell XFV-12
* Yakovlev Yak-38
* VFW VAK 191B
see also=
* Harrier Jump Jet, an overview of the Harrier family




* Gunston, Bill and Mike Spick. "Modern Air Combat: The Aircraft, Tactics and Weapons Employed in Aerial Warfare Today". New York: Crescent Books, 1983. ISBN 0-51741-265-9.
* Jenkins, Dennis R. "Boeing / BAe Harrier". North Branch, Minnesota: Specialty Press, 1998. ISBN 1-58007-014-0.
* Norden, Lon O. "Harrier II, Validating V/STOL". Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2006. ISBN 1-59114-536-8.
* Spick, Mike and Bill Gunston. "The Great Book of Modern Warplanes". Osceola, WI: MBI Publishing, 2000. ISBN 0-7603-0893-4.

External links

* [http://www.harrier.org.uk Harrier history website]
* [http://www.vectorsite.net/avav8_2.html Harriers on Vectorsite.net]
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/europe/harrier.htm Harrier page on globalsecurity.org]
* [http://www.naval-history.net/F63braircraftlost.htm Harriers lost in the Falklands]

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