Retirement of the Sea Harrier

fred henderson
8th March 2006, 19:56
There was a recent thread about the Sea Harrier’s withdrawal from service with the RN at the end of this month. I have been doing some further research and the situation appears to be as follows: -

The Sea Harrier has been in service with the RN for 25 years. It is in fact the longest serving fixed wing aircraft in the history of the Fleet Air Arm. The Sea Harrier has had a distinguished career, shooting down 23 Argentinean attack aircraft during the Falklands campaign and going on to serve in the Balkans, the Gulf and in West Africa in conflicts where there were no hostile aircraft.
In the 1998 Strategic Defence Review it was decided to combine the RN Sea Harriers and the RAF Harriers into a single joint command (JFH) with the aim of bringing the two Harrier communities together. Early on however, the team recognised that full integration was impracticable as the two aircraft have less than 20% commonality of airframe and avionics. Crucially the Sea Harrier has 1960s technology, while the Harrier GR7 has 1980s airframe and avionics.
JFH began by examining the upgrades needed to keep the two aircraft effective. Sea Harrier needed Link 16 data link, the new Successor Identification Friend or Foe equipment, a new defensive aids suite and most importantly the replacement of its engine with the significantly more powerful Pegasus 11-61. The major snag was that the Sea Harrier’s 1960s airframe requires extensive modification to take the new engine. The Harrier GR7 also needs the new engine, but no changes are needed to its 1980s airframe.
The new engine is essential for continued carrier operation. At present the GR7 needs to jettison any unused weapons before it can land back on a carrier in hot climates. The Sea Harrier cannot land at all in these conditions and is banned from undertaking carrier operations in the Gulf during the hottest six months of the year.
There are only 9 Sea Harriers left in service. It was reluctantly concluded that the cost and technical risks of the major re-engineering work needed to upgrade these few aircraft could not be justified. It was decided instead to upgrade the GR7 to the new GR9 standard and issue these aircraft to two Fleet Air Arm squadrons as well as to the RAF. This will result in the RN retaining fast jet expertise and the carriers having greatly enhanced offensive strike capability, but no outer layer air defence until the new carriers enter service. I am sure a consideration in reaching this decision was the fact that this defence capability has not been needed since 1982.

Fred (Read)

Hendo!
8th March 2006, 20:53
Who'da thunk it?! A handful of aircraft with a 1960s 'chassis' kept the Argentinian Airforce at bay during the Falklands Conflict.

I remember watching on Discovery Channel a documentary about the Harrier, and an Argentinian Mirage pilot was interviewed. He mentioned that Argentinian command told them to ignore the Harriers as they were no threat!

edit to add - What are they being replaced by, a marine version of the Eurofighter?

william dillon
8th March 2006, 21:12
(Cloud) Who'da thunk it?! A handful of aircraft with a 1960s 'chassis' kept the Argentinian Airforce at bay during the Falklands Conflict.

I remember watching on Discovery Channel a documentary about the Harrier, and an Argentinian Mirage pilot was interviewed. He mentioned that Argentinian command told them to ignore the Harriers as they were no threat!

edit to add - What are they being replaced by, a marine version of the Eurofighter?

Hendo,
The way this country is going, they are probably scouring all the aircraft museums for replacements, I think the "Gloster Gladiator" (spelling) might fit the bill as a stop gap. (Night)

fred henderson
8th March 2006, 22:12
The official line is that the new carriers will operate the VTOL version of the American Joint Combat Aircraft, which is now back on track after sorting out its overweight problems. There is however, a political storm brewing. The British want to have full access to all technology needed to enable the aircraft to be maintained and upgraded in the future. That is not a real problem, except that the British want this access before they will sign a purchase contract. The US will only grant such access to a country that has signed a contract.
The JCA is using future technology, including stealth. BAE is trying to stir the pot and once again rip off the British taxpayer. BAE is already part of the JCA programme and its income will come from the US orders. It is now saying that as British access to JCA technology is not guaranteed, the carriers should be modified to take conventional carrier aircraft and a navalised version of Eurofighter/Typhoon developed. This would be an aircraft that is about as stealthy as a London Routmaster double-decker bus, with about the same advanced technology and running even later.

Fred (Cloud)

Hendo!
8th March 2006, 22:43
I read in a magazine a while back (perhaps Time) that a lot of tax dollars were wasted in the development of the JCA, given existing and perceived threats, the conclusion was basically, take an current F16 and upgrade it.

I think the Dutch government, may be pissing away a load of tax euros on the JCA

James_C
8th March 2006, 23:00
"this defence capability has not been needed since 1982"

Ah, that old chestnut about 'well we haven't needed this type of equipment for 20 odd years, so theres no need to upgrade or replace it'.

I seem to recall the Tory Govt in 1980 thinking the same about Fearless, Intrepid, Endurance, Conventional Aircraft Carriers etc, and look what happened on the eve of their disposal.....

(Night)

william dillon
8th March 2006, 23:36
(Cloud) "this defence capability has not been needed since 1982"

Ah, that old chestnut about 'well we haven't needed this type of equipment for 20 odd years, so theres no need to upgrade or replace it'.

I seem to recall the Tory Govt in 1980 thinking the same about Fearless, Intrepid, Endurance, Conventional Aircraft Carriers etc, and look what happened on the eve of their disposal.....

(Night)


You are quite correct. (Applause)

fred henderson
9th March 2006, 10:31
It is also a fact that most armed forces are equiped to re-fight the last war they were involved in and not organised for the next.
The Falkland Islands now have an airfield and if the RAF organised itself, it could prevent a repeat invasion. If the Argentinians successfully repeated an invasion and moved their airforce to the Islands, then even with a full fleet of Sea Harriers, there is nothing Britain could do alone to remove them until the new carriers with JCA enter service.
In 2002, when the decision was taken not to rebuild the Sea Harriers, the first new carrier with JCA was expected to enter service with RN in 2012. No one is now offering a firm date for this event. In 2002 HMS Daring, which will provide a much more effective air defence capability, was due to enter service in 2007. The latest date for Daring is now 2009.
If a Sea Harrier rebuild had been ordered in 2002, to expect BAE to return the aircraft to service on time would be go against all past experience. In my view the RN would still be without an effective outer layer air defence for several years.

Fred

Fred

Hugh MacLean
9th March 2006, 12:26
I think it is important that the Government DON'T send out the wrong signal here like the Thatcher administration did in 1982.

With a seemingly hawkish administration installed in Buenos Aires making more noise about their "ownership" of the Islands, the last thing we need is to tell them that we couldn't send a fleet. When it comes to money, politicians tend to forget history and hope for the best.

So those signals combined with the British Army tied up in Iraq and elsewhere make it a good time to test resolve.

Lets hope that they dont.

Rgds

cockerhoop
9th March 2006, 12:57
we are trying our best here at BAE, Submarines back on track, the 3rd Bay class vessel delivered before even the first from Swan's.
and i can see the ilse of man from here!!!!!!!

Coastie
9th March 2006, 13:03
we are trying our best here at BAE, Submarines back on track, the 3rd Bay class vessel delivered before even the first from Swan's.
and i can see the ilse of man from here!!!!!!!

On a clear day, so can we!! We even saw our radio mast on Snaefell one day last year! (EEK)

Ron Stringer
9th March 2006, 16:32
As a beleaguered taxpayer, living on a pension, can any of the pro-Navy, pro-RAF enthusiasts for "investing" horrendous sums of our money in military hardware, advise me of the benefits/returns we can envisage for retaining these Islands? In 1982, if we had given every one of the small number of people then living on the islands, the sum of £50 million pounds each and told them to relocate elsewhere, how much would the British taxpayer have saved by not having to fund Mrs. Thatcher's political ambitions and the MoD's desire to "go to war" with Argentina and so justify their existence. How much would we have saved since then if we had not had to maintain the subsequent military and economic support?

As an "investor" I do not seem to receive any identifiable "dividend" or other benefits. I am, however, repeatedly informed that the country cannot afford to maintain the level of pensions, or the current rate of expenditure on the health service. Priorities? Just asking!

Ron

Jeff Egan
9th March 2006, 16:45
Ron you took the words out of my mouth, good for you. it's a great pity so many people had to die and so much money wasted. When will we learn that if we do spend money on defence lets use it to defend ourselves and not try to police the world.

Coastie
9th March 2006, 17:19
Surely, defending the Falklands WAS defending ourselves?? It is a British dependancy and, technically, we had been invaded, hadn't we?

Coastie
9th March 2006, 17:22
Sorry Folks, I didn't mean to turn this thread into a discussion on the Falklands. I think that a discussion on this subject, if need be, should be carried out somewhere else.

Jeff Egan
9th March 2006, 17:22
You'll be telling me Gibraltar isnt part of spain next coastie

Coastie
9th March 2006, 17:32
Don't get me started on THAT one!! LOL

Hugh MacLean
9th March 2006, 17:39
Ron,

I do agree with a lot of what you say. However, I was making the point that we don't make the same mistakes again because I dont want my son having to go down there to sort out mistakes made by politicians.

I am not quite sure what you mean by pro-Navy. I am pro Navy I served in it for 12 years or is this just a pro MN site.

Rgds

Ron Stringer
9th March 2006, 18:32
Hugh,

I am not anti-Navy (Royal, Merchant or any other) or anti-Falklands but I do question for whose benefit we would spend many billions of pounds on new aircraft carriers and new aircraft to decorate them with. Is it not time that we recognised that Britain is now a very minor power, that there is no disgrace in that, and that the welfare of the state and its population might be better served by matching ambitions to resources? As Jeff says being the policeman of the world is not the aim of most people here. Looking around the world, even within Europe, I see many countries whose citizens enjoy better standards of living than most of the population of Britain, yet without possessing massive military forces.

If, in 1982, we had not had a Royal Navy, and sufficient Merchant ships, it could be argued that Britain's politicians would have had to come up with alternative solutions to the Falklands problem. It could also be argued that many lives of the sons and daughters of both British and Argentinian parents would also have been saved.

Wars and military adventures come about because of the failures, and failings, of politicians. Sadly, as too frequently happens with loss of life in disasters within the world of industry, those responsible for making the decisions to initiate risky undertakings are rarely in danger of loss of life or status. Perhaps if we could adopt a position where the politicians and their immediate families were to be sent to the front line before any form of conscription could be introduced, or any reservists called up, we might see a little less enthusiasm to adopt these military "solutions" to political problems. Did we not learn enough from the 20th Century about the perils of trusting these so-called experts and military planners? Can we not envisage a more progressive approach to problem-solving than taking a big stick and bashing someone over the head?

Ron

Jeff Egan
9th March 2006, 19:00
To me the key word is defence, I think we need to be able to defend ourselves and our armed forces should be geared to do just that. Soldiers are not policemen and in my opinion it is wrong to ask them to be policemen. How can we continue to pour millions of pounds into protecting islands in South Atlantic when, as we have seen recently on TV young women here at home are being denied the drugs they need to keep them alive for economic reasons?

Hugh MacLean
9th March 2006, 19:38
Ron and Jeff,

I do agree with what you say, I really do. This country is still acting like it still has the Empire. It is afraid to come away from the top table.

The PM cuts our Armed Forces but still increases our commitments worldwide. I Just hope that nobody else takes advantage of that. It wont be the politicians or their kin that will have to go it will be ours.

Anyway don’t want to get too political and Fred sorry for hijacking the thread a little.

Rgds

fred henderson
9th March 2006, 20:46
Until the development of gunpowder, every civilisation was wiped out by a larger hoard of barbarians. From that point onwards civilisation has survived because its military technology has been in advance of that used by the barbarians. Without effective defence, civilisation will be wiped out again. Effective defence means modern weapons.
The Sea Harrier has performed very well for Britain over the last 25 years but it has run out of puff and it is right that it should be retired. From the end of this month only five will remain airworthy in cold climates. Their maintenance is a nightmare. The engines need to be changed after only 150 hours flying. I do not think we should ask Fleet Air Arm pilots to put their lives on the line just to pretend we have a fleet air defence capability.

Fred

Jeff Egan
10th March 2006, 10:33
Yes but who decides who are the barbarians and who are the civilised Fred?

Paul UK
10th March 2006, 15:24
I am sure we can trust the government decision makers!!!! (Night)

Jeff Egan
10th March 2006, 16:15
Quite right too Paul, after all they discuss it with God these days before making decisions. If he Ok's it who are we to argue? Mind you the other side usually pray to the same god so he has a bit of a conflict of interests at times poor sod.

william dillon
10th March 2006, 20:30
I am sure we can trust the government decision makers!!!! (Night)

Paul,
When have you ever seen "Trust", "Government" & "Decision Makers" in the same sentence ?. It does not compute as they say....... or am I being cynical.

Lancastrian
8th April 2006, 09:22
What a lot of milksop pacifists we seem to have here. The lessons of history are that if you want peace, freedom and democracy, you sometimes have to fight for them.
It is also better to stand up to mad dictators before they get out of hand.
I for one was grateful that we had a Prime Minister and a First Sea Lord who had the guts to do what clearly had to be done.
Our armed forces are all volunteers these days. Whilst any premature death is regrettable, if you take the Queen's shilling, you cant complain if you have to put yourself in harms way now & then. This should also be understood by relatives and taxpayers.

Jeff Egan
8th April 2006, 10:55
Maybe you would think differently Lancs if a nation more powerful than ours decided they didn't like our government and started to drop a few cruise missiles down your street.

Lancastrian
8th April 2006, 13:17
Possibly, Jeff, but I'm afraid I dont see the analogy with the Falklands war.

Jeff Egan
8th April 2006, 13:41
Sorry Lancs it's been so long since this thread was first posted I thought we were talking about Iraq when you mentioned mad dictators, my mistake.

Phill
17th April 2006, 12:30
I found this one, stuck in the front of the Maritime Museum, looking in good nick, I believe there was a 001 that saw service in the Falklands, surely this is not the same one?,,,,,taken Greenwich 16.04.2006

wigger
17th April 2006, 17:11
No its not the same, both 801 squadron though! 001 which saw service in the Falklands was an FRS1 serial number XZ493. It was nominally assigned to the squadron Commander. Lt Cdr N.D "Sharkey Ward. None of his air to air kills were in this machine though! It was exhibited in the Fleet Air Arm Museum RNAS Yeovilton. Some FRS1's were converted to FA2 but ZH801 I believe was a New build (build number NB06). Last I saw it was stored at Yeovilton. 001 was also on ZD578 which was a conversion! But thats supposed to be on display at the the Main Gate at Yeovilton.....and ZH796......oh nuts this is getting confusing, i'm thinking they all carried 001 at some time or another. (Night)

Phill
17th April 2006, 17:54
No its not the same, both 801 squadron though! 001 which saw service in the Falklands was an FRS1 serial number XZ493. It was nominally assigned to the squadron Commander. Lt Cdr N.D "Sharkey Ward. None of his air to air kills were in this machine though! It was exhibited in the Fleet Air Arm Museum RNAS Yeovilton. Some FRS1's were converted to FA2 but ZH801 I believe was a New build (build number NB06). Last I saw it was stored at Yeovilton. 001 was also on ZD578 which was a conversion! But thats supposed to be on display at the the Main Gate at Yeovilton.....and ZH796......oh nuts this is getting confusing, i'm thinking they all carried 001 at some time or another. (Night)thanks wigger

wigger
17th April 2006, 19:45
Just read an interesting article about 801 squadrons last year as Sea Harrier squadron. During early March, 5 of the squadrons aircraft headed into the Wales Military Training Area for the squadrons last tactical flight. Against an enemy package of 4 Tornado GR.MK4s, 2 Jaguars and "5" F15cs.....end result...ALL enemy aircraft destroyed. Not bad for a fighter that ran out of puff! I have read similar reports during the Sea Harriers service with the FAA, many times against F15's which lets face it, are not exactly slouches in air to air combat. The article goes on to say "It rather underlines the point that the Sea Harrier remains a very potent fighter, retired from service due to cuts in UK defence spending not its continuing relevance as a fighter".
Sea Harriers have never had the glamour of other fighters, in fact watching them at airshows has bored me rigid over the years, but I have to say they certainly seem to be one hell of an aircraft in a fight!

wee bobby
17th April 2006, 20:31
Anybody out there with enough clout--send one of them harriers toEast fortune-Museum of Flight cheers!!

Phill
10th October 2006, 18:14
Successful upgrade program,Boosts Uk’s iconic Harriers

They’re Back?
http://www.royal-navy.mod.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.6894 (http://www.royal-navy.mod.uk/server/show/ConWebDoc.6894)

wigger
10th October 2006, 19:27
Yep! they are back - great for ground attack....and thats about it really. Lets just pray the RN don't need air cover away from UK airspace anytime soon.

PeterG
14th November 2006, 16:19
Let's face it - Argentina aren't going to be invading the Falklands any time soon. It would be seen by every organisation (NATO, UN) on earth as an act of war, and the country would be doomed.
It's in the best interests of everyone for them not to invade.

James_C
14th November 2006, 16:37
So Peter, basically the same negatives as back in 1982...
One big difference though, or forces weren't fighting a war on the other side of the world at the time.