The Harrier GR7 Fighter is a single seat, multi role combat aircraft that can operate in extreme environments and from a wide selection of locations, including deployed air bases and aircraft carriers. The old GR3 model famously saw operation with the RN during the Falklands Campaign in 1982 and today’s GR7 maintains the maritime link by working as part of the JFH. In its role as part of the JFH, the RAF’s GR7 force remains ready to deploy anywhere in the world with the RN’s Sea Harriers as part of a naval task force.
The Harrier’s unique feature is its ability to vector the Pegasus-engine thrust. This vectored thrust enables it to operate from short landing surfaces and to take off and land vertically. The jet efflux is directed out of four nozzles, which move in unison from a rearwardpointing position for conventional flight to a position where the nozzles point directly below the aircraft to allow it to hover. The single Pegasus engine produces 21,500lbs of thrust.
The flying controls work on the ‘Hands-on-Throttleand Stick’ system (HOTAS), enabling the most important weapons and avionics functions to be operated by the pilot without having to remove his hands from the controls. Information is displayed to the pilot through the Head-Up Display (HUD) and is also presented on two multi-purpose colour displays (MPCDs). The pilot can use the MPCDs to display almost any system information, including the aircraft’s position on a moving map display, and the weapon load being carried. The MPCD’s can also display target pictures obtained from the aircraft’s sensors.
The picture from the Dual Mode Tracker, a six times magnification television camera mounted on the nose, or from the Maverick missile seeker head, can also be displayed, together with a Thermal Imaging Airborne Laser Designator (TIALD) tracking-and-target picture if a TIALD pod is carried. During night operations, the Forward Looking Infrared picture is presented on a MPCD and is also overlaid onto the HUD. All the displays are compatible with night-vision goggles, which gives the Harrier its ability to operate by night, at low level.
When flying at low level the Harrier cruises at 420kts (480mph) and then typically increases speed to 480kts (550mph) when delivering weapons. This gives it a low-level combat radius of approximately 250nmls. When operating at medium level the Harrier cruises at 0.75 Mach and has a combat radius of approximately 350nmls. These ranges vary upon the tasking requirement and weapon load being carried and can be increased by the use of in-flight refuelling. The Harrier is a very capable aircraft and has proven to be a valuable asset over the past few years in many campaigns including those in Bosnia, Kosovo and Iraq. The GR7 will soon undergo a series of major improvements, with changes to both the avionics and to the engine, and will be redesignated the Harrier GR9 Fighter.
Harrier GR7 Specifications
Powerplant: RR Pegasus Mk 105 turbofan
Wingspan: 9.25m (30ft 4ins)
Length: 14.36m (47ft 2ins)
Height: 3.55m (11ft 8ins)
Max STO weight: 14,091kg (31,000lbs)
Max VTO weight: 8614kg (18,950lbs)
Fuel internal: 3527kg (7,759lbs)
Fuel external: 3669kg (8071lbs) (four drop tanks)
Max speed: 575kts (661mph)
Max altitude: 43,000ft
• Multi-role combat aircraft capable of vertical or short take-off and landing.
• Part of Joint Force Harrier (JFH), operating from land bases or aircraft carriers.
• Comprehensive weapons capability including bombs, rockets or missiles.
• Can operate at night, at low level, using nightvision goggles.
• Cockpit gives navigation and weapons information on multi-purpose colour displays.