British Aerospace Harrier II
|Harrier GR5 / GR7 / GR9|
|An RAF Harrier GR9 over Afghanistan, 2008|
|Role||V/STOL strike aircraft|
|National origin||United Kingdom / United States|
|Manufacturer||British Aerospace / McDonnell Douglas|
BAE Systems / Boeing
|First flight||30 April 1985|
|Primary users||Royal Air Force (historical)|
Royal Navy (historical)
|Developed from||Hawker Siddeley Harrier|
McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II
The British Aerospace Harrier II was a second-generation vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) jet aircraft used previously by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and, between 2006 and 2010, the Royal Navy (RN). The aircraft was the latest development of the Harrier Jump Jet family, and was derived from the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II. Initial deliveries of the Harrier II were designated in service as Harrier GR5; subsequently upgraded airframes were redesignated accordingly as GR7 and GR9.
Under the Joint Force Harrier organisation, both the RAF and RN operated the Harrier II, including routine operational deployments on board the navy's Invincible class aircraft carriers. The Harrier II participated in numerous conflicts, making significant contributions in combat theatres such as Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The type's main function was as a platform for air interdiction and close air support missions; the Harrier II was also used for presence projection and reconnaissance duties. The Harrier II served alongside theSea Harrier in Joint Force Harrier.
In December 2010, budgetary pressures led to the early retirement of all Harrier IIs from service, at which point it was the last of the Harrier derivatives remaining in British service. The decision to retire was controversial as there was no immediate fixed-wing replacement in its role or fixed-wing carrier-capable aircraft left in service; in the long term the Harrier II is to be replaced by the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II.
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