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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb 2017 07:39 am 
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Undoubtedly the White Paper(s) putting the case for retiring the Harrier from RAF service went into detail, but could anyone tell me:

(a) did the need for an aircraft to meet the role/anticipated future role(s) met by the Harrier disappear?
(b) assuming the roles performed would be continued, what aircraft was to have/did assume them?
(c) was the measure simply a cost saving device with the Harrier being assessed to as meeting the bottom of a list of prioritised needs, eg Typhoons to defend airspace, Tornado to provide reactive response/deterent capability and Harrier providing close battlefield support coming last?

As I understand it, the early Harrier meet the role of close battlefield support [although I suspect not cheaply/cost-effectively]. In a potential West German battleground with limited and reducing airfield availability, this seemed good sense. But such a threat no longer exists, so maybe the need for Britain to retain such a capability has gone too?

In the 'global policing' arena, for which the Harrier seemed most appropriate, I suspect the retirement of the aircraft was closely related to the reduction in/intention to reduce the ability of Britain to effectively intervene in such a role, particularly as the US has been happy to perform it largely unaided. And we don't have any direct overseas responsibilities/duties anymore [other than the Falkland Islands].

Probably could be answered using lots of words, but has anyone a 'potted' answer/opinion?


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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb 2017 10:28 am 
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Wasn't part of the rationale for the Harrier that if/when the enemy knocked out conventional airfields, that it could operate from anywhere :idea:

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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb 2017 12:06 pm 
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the Harrier replacement is the F35B; whether the original role for the Harrier is deemed to exist anymore is a moot point. The main reason it was scrapped a decade before it's replacement was ready was cost. It didn't help it case that all the Senior men in the RAF are ex-tornado aircrew.

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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb 2017 12:42 pm 
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Ratch, yes, and mildly O/T, the Jaguar was explicitly designed so that it could operate from straight pieces of autobahn.

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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb 2017 15:49 pm 
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czartan wrote:
It didn't help it case that all the Senior men in the RAF are ex-tornado aircrew.
I've heard pilots imply that getting a Harrier posting was like drawing the short straw. There was a lot of resistance to the Harrier within the RAF from the very beginning. The services that turned the Harrier into a real success story were the FAA and USMC.

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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb 2017 17:26 pm 
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peebeep wrote:
I've heard pilots imply that getting a Harrier posting was like drawing the short straw. There was a lot of resistance to the Harrier within the RAF from the very beginning. The services that turned the Harrier into a real success story were the FAA and USMC.
I wouldn't quite describe it like that. There was a huge rivalry between the Harrier and Tornado communities simply because for years, at the end of AFJT at RAF Valley, those deemed above average were streamed single-seat (i.e. Harrier) and those just average went twin-seat (GR1/4/F3). And so the Harrier boys used to look down their noses at the Tornado drivers which always wound them up. That same attitude never seemed to be prevalent with the Jaguar squadrons, most of whose pilots I seem to recall were always second tourist convertees. I think there was always the difference with the Typhoon drivers simply because as an air defender, they were looked on as the spiritual successor to generations of Spitfire, Hunter and Lightning pilots who were always single-seat.
czartan wrote:
The main reason it was scrapped a decade before it's replacement was ready was cost. It didn't help it case that all the Senior men in the RAF are ex-tornado aircrew.
That's certainly one reason. SDSR 2010 had to make significant savings and part of that was the loss of at least 2-3 squadrons of jets. A balanced force would have probably taken 1 sqn of Harriers and 2 sqns of Tornado, but even just leaving 1 Harrier in service requires significant costs such as providing spares, maintaining documentation, training etc etc etc. And so the biggest saving for least impact (impact = numbers of aircraft lost) could be made by taking the Harriers out of service in their entirety. The fact that with them went a whole capability seemed completely irrelevant to the RAF. Furthermore, the Harriers supported the Army and the Navy rather than defended RAF airfields so the RAF were less interested.

There was also an ulterior motive and it is closely related to the F35. Of course by scrapping a fleet of aircraft that was jointly operated by the RAF and RN, at a stroke, the RAF took away the RN's fixed wing capability and with it the ability of the RN to generate F35 pilots, the thinking behind this was that all the F35s would then be handed to RAF control and they would be operated by all RAF squadrons when embarked in the QEC. It has been alleged to me by a very good contact that a former Chief of the Air Staff once spoke at a dinner at which my contact was present (this was back around 2007/2008) and in which he said that it should be the long term aim of the RAF to regain control of all military flying in the UK, absorbing the Fleet Air Arm and Army Air Corps.

Of interest, the savings made by scrapping the Harrier force early, coupled with the costs of the Royal Navy scrapping the 3 CVS early, were all outweighed by the extra costs of operating Typhoons out of Gioa del Colle trying to replicate the capability that one sqn of GR9s could have delivered sitting 12 miles of the Libyan coast.

Be in no doubt. The requirement for close air support still exists. The capability to deliver it until the F35 is fully operational sadly is severely limited.


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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb 2017 18:27 pm 
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Just to throw in another idea, on op herrick the apache done quite a lot of close air support work, the apache was able to fire a lot closer to troops in contact due to increased accuracy,
Would this have had any Bering on the harrier force been retired


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PostPosted: Mon 13 Feb 2017 18:54 pm 
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wookie wrote:
I wouldn't quite describe it like that.
I couldn't find a tongue in cheek emoticon! :Whistling:

You can probably guess which community my contacts were from.

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PostPosted: Wed 15 Feb 2017 23:37 pm 
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We will find out when we get the 4 aircraft that we can afford to pay for as the unit cost keeps getting higher and higher, and what about its ability to carry no external stores. So one bomb at a time ooh and may be a maverick sized missile for self defence. But its fair to say the whole program is behind budget and time as we have also seen with the A400M as I saw that in mockup form in 1996 at Farnborough so dont hold your hopes to high. Nice thread though


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PostPosted: Wed 29 Mar 2017 19:09 pm 
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I feel that the RAF lost a good tactical aircraft but can undertand the rationale. I worked on the early marks, GR1 and T2 and apart from the improved wing and ordanance capability and the electronic wizardry which every aircraft has to have now the later marks were very much the same. They were not the easiest aircraft to maintain; aircraft on trestles and wing off to get the engine out - and as for those nozzles. The main problem I have with the decision is that there was no alternative available , or will be, when the new carriers enter service which makes for some very expensive helicopter platforms. They say we need the carriers to project our military capability but without an aircraft with range and weapons delivery on board the projection is rather timid.

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PostPosted: Sat 01 Apr 2017 13:26 pm 
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Interesting thread, blooming interesting & somewhat saddening post Wookie. Sad that this kind of self centred tribalism still infects the UKs military, I've read this in enough other places not to give it considerable credence. No doubt similar afflicts our own fearless leaders. :(
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PostPosted: Sat 01 Apr 2017 15:43 pm 
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You can't use your F-35 without getting the drones to go with it. One F-35 acts as a mini-awacs, sending information back to wherever for drone control. Then we have the Terminators who all look like Arnold, and we have the Agents... wait a minute, I'm getting my movies mixed up. Anyway, I, for one, welcome our new robot overlords.

High concept film. Terminator vs. Matrix :fear:

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PostPosted: Mon 24 Apr 2017 14:33 pm 
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peebeep wrote:
czartan wrote:
It didn't help it case that all the Senior men in the RAF are ex-tornado aircrew.
I've heard pilots imply that getting a Harrier posting was like drawing the short straw.
During the '80s and '90s a Harrier posting was seen as a plum. By the late '90s / early noughties it was seen as less so given the creation of Joint Force Harrier and the regular deployments 'on the boat'.
    AVM Stuart Ather who is currently DCOS Ops (ex AOC 1 Gp) was a Harrier pilot.
    Air Vice-Marshal P V Harris (ex AOC 1 Gp) was a Harrier pilot.
    Air Marshal C H Moran (ex AOC 1 Gp, ex ACAS, ex CinC Air Command) was a Harrier pilot.
    Air Marshal D Walker (ex AOC 1 Gp, Ex Deputy Commander Allied Joint Force Command) was a Harrier pilot.
So in actuall fact the 'Harrier Mafia' had a number of the top ranking jobs in the RAF!
wookie wrote:
czartan wrote:
The reason it was scrapped a decade before it's replacement was ready was cost. It didn't help it case that all the Senior men in the RAF are ex-tornado aircrew.
That's certainly one reason. SDSR 2010 had to make significant savings and part of that was the loss of at least 2-3 squadrons of jets.
[snip]
The fact that with them went a whole capability seemed completely irrelevant to the RAF. Furthermore, the Harriers supported the Army and the Navy rather than defended RAF airfields so the RAF were less interested.
There was also an ulterior motive and it is closely related to the F35. Of course by scrapping a fleet of aircraft that was jointly operated by the RAF and RN, at a stroke, the RAF took away the RN's fixed wing capability and with it the ability of the RN to generate F35 pilots, the thinking behind this was that all the F35s would then be handed to RAF control and they would be operated by all RAF squadrons when embarked in the QEC. It has been alleged to me by a very good contact that a former Chief of the Air Staff once spoke at a dinner at which my contact was present (this was back around 2007/2008) and in which he said that it should be the long term aim of the RAF to regain control of all military flying in the UK, absorbing the Fleet Air Arm and Army Air Corps.
[snip]
Be in no doubt. The requirement for close air support still exists. The capability to deliver it until the F35 is fully operational sadly is severely limited.
I'm sorry but there's some real tin-foil hattery going on there. You might recall that the Navy binned Sea harrier way before Joint Force Harrier was binned so the idea that Harrier GR was binned to stop Naval Aviation is patent rubbish. Secondly, whether or not you believe that it was right to slash the Armed Forces in the SDSR of 2010, the Govt decided that was what was needed. Harrier got chopped for 2 reasons, firstly it's projected OSD was earlier than that of Tornado, secondly, while Harrier had a limited RTS for Single Mode Seaker Brimstone, it had no RTS for Dual Mode Seaker Brimstone, nor was it ever going to get a RTS for Storm Shadow (all of which Tornado can carry) thus limiting it to PAVEWAY and CRV7. In essence Tornado was kept and Harrier binned based upon capability. While the requirement for CAS still exists, in the arenas of Ops TELIC, HERRICK and SHADER it is currently being done from medium level by a jet more capable than Harrier.

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PostPosted: Thu 27 Apr 2017 19:43 pm 
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...And if you read Sharky Wards memoir, you'll read that the only enthusiasts for the Harrier were the RAF, most of the help he got in getting his sqn to such a high pitch of efficiency was due to the support he got from Wittering). You'll also find that a good 45% of Harrier sqn aircrew in the Falklands were RAF (including the top-scoring 'ace').

Also, By the time the fleet air arm got their FRS1- the RAF had been operating the Harrier for a good 15 years, and had developed most of the tactics, and operational methods, that the rn later (mis)used. You also might want to read the memoir by Sir Peter Squire: the then OC of 1(F)sqn (these are the guys that flew from Ascension to the carriers off south Africa, and carried out their FIRST ever carrier landing) about the rn's lack of reconnaissance, target info or indeed an operations/ tasking cell.

'Just go off and bomb something' is not an appropriate mission tasking. Who, when given probably the best Close Air Support unit within the British forces (and one highly regarded within NATO) thinks you don't have to use them.

There was, and still is an ambivalent attitude within the rn towards the faa anyway- WAFU service is not a guaranteed route to senior command! And it is convenient for the WAFU to blame the RAF.

The reason for the Harriers retirement was as stated above- Tornado was simply more capable and could undertake the CAS role, whereas the Harrier could not undertake the Interdiction, Strike, Maritime Strike and Reconnaisance roles. As the rationale for the Harrier- survivable air assets, able to operate from austere basing, disappeared with the end of the cold war, it made sense to cut the least capable platforms. The Jaguars were cut for much the same reason.

Incidently, Tornado and Typhoon can both operate from austere basing and units are being increasingly trained for this, including austere manning too.

BTW, the rn were offered the Harrier when the RAF decided to cut the fleet, but they preferred to spend the funds elsewhere.

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