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Harriers fly into the sunset
December 15, 2010 3:13 PM   Subscribe

The Harrier Jump Jet makes its final flight over England. The venerable Jump Jet, famous for its hovering capability, is to be decommissioned - along with the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal - as part of Britain's cost-cutting measures. It will be replaced by the F35 Joint Strike Fighter. Another story w/video. Is this "the beginning of the end of plane-making in Britain"?

More video.
posted by schoolgirl report (41 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
GIven how much I associate the Harrier with the Falklanks War and the reign of Thatcher, and how big a part of my childhood that was it feels like some kind of weird passing of an era.

Perhaps when Thatch finally drops dead she could be placed on the decommisioned HMS Ark Royal, tugged out where the Belgrano lies on the ocean floor and sunk.
posted by Artw at 3:18 PM on December 15, 2010 [5 favorites]


Though this lucky bastard is keeping his running. I enjoyed hearing him speak about how he acquired his aircraft and got it running - fascinating.
posted by exogenous at 3:26 PM on December 15, 2010


And my mum used to work for British Aerospace (now BAE) at the time, come to think of it.
posted by Artw at 3:27 PM on December 15, 2010


Plane making in Britain may be declining, but jet engines are exploding.
posted by sien at 3:31 PM on December 15, 2010 [6 favorites]


I think this is the end of the end of plane-making in Britain.
posted by GuyZero at 3:33 PM on December 15, 2010


The Harrier has always been my most favorite jet plane, ever since I was ten years old. It's like the Optimus Prime of jet planes!
posted by jnrussell at 3:38 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


Perhaps when Thatch finally drops dead she could be placed on the decommisioned HMS Ark Royal, tugged out where the Belgrano lies on the ocean floor and sunk.

Hey, why wait?
posted by Skeptic at 3:39 PM on December 15, 2010 [8 favorites]


It may even be the end of the end of making anything in Britain.
posted by dash_slot- at 3:39 PM on December 15, 2010


So basically the decline and fall of British airpower.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 3:40 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Harrier, you're fired.
posted by nathancaswell at 3:41 PM on December 15, 2010


It may even be the end of the end of making anything in Britain.

Again, another Thatcher association.
posted by Artw at 3:41 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I think of the Harrier, I think of Leonard v. Pepsico, Inc., in which some goofball tried to get a Harrier for 7,000,000 Pepsi Points.

Also, True Lies.
posted by incomple at 3:56 PM on December 15, 2010 [4 favorites]


So basically the decline and fall of British airpower.

Really? What about these guys? Airbus, owned 20% by BAE, produces half of all jet airliners in the world and employs about 10.000 people in the UK.

Moreover, Rolls Royce is one the major jet engine manufacturers in the world.

So yeah, that Thatcher really ruined British industry.
posted by three blind mice at 3:59 PM on December 15, 2010


Well, seeing as of the 824 Harrier variants delivered 91 were destroyed in use and very few of those were destroyed in combat I don't think that pilots will miss them much.
Their primary foe (never mind being a questionable concept in the first place) seems to have been birds. I doubt the F-35B will fare much better.
posted by vapidave at 4:00 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


Finningley Airshow, 1978. Harrier vertical takeoff == noisiest thing I had ever heard
posted by mdoar at 4:08 PM on December 15, 2010


If Britain is less of an arms manufacturer today, then that's good for Britain and the rest of the world. Congratulations to the UK for reducing its military, an act that many countries should follow, including the US.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 4:08 PM on December 15, 2010


Wow, airforce used in the falklands was pretty damn small. The Argentines by comparison fielded a ton of stuff, though a lot of it seems to be a random grab-bag of crap.
posted by Artw at 4:18 PM on December 15, 2010


And now I have Shipbuilding stuck in my head.
posted by Artw at 4:26 PM on December 15, 2010


The venerable Jump Jet, famous for its hovering capability, is to be decommissioned - along with the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal - as part of Britain's cost-cutting measures. It will be replaced by the F35 Joint Strike Fighter.

I wish my personal cost-cutting measures could be getting rid of now obsolete old crap and replacing it with new over-priced crap which doesn't address any need I have.
posted by docgonzo at 4:30 PM on December 15, 2010 [2 favorites]


It's all part of the special relationship.
posted by Artw at 4:31 PM on December 15, 2010


I live only a few miles away from one of the air bases that's closing down. It's gonna seem more than a bit strange to go out for a walk and not see or especially hear one as would happen half the time. Real end of an era stuff. The real pity is the place put a lot of money into the local economy, it was the biggest employer for my miles around, and it's going to have a really bad effect on local businesses etc. And what's even worse is the decision was made in the dying days of the Labour government so I can't even get my full 'bloody bastard Tory' hate on.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 4:31 PM on December 15, 2010


Airbus, owned 20% by BAE, produces half of all jet airliners in the world and employs about 10.000 people in the UK.

For the record, BAE sold their stake in 2006.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:35 PM on December 15, 2010


I got to sit in one once. They sure are incredible feats of engineering.

I understand why now but, at the time, I couldn't believe how careful they were that I not spill any coins out of my pockets or anything like that when I got in or out.
posted by stinkycheese at 4:38 PM on December 15, 2010


Now Argentina can retake the Falklands mwah ha ha ha!
posted by Scoo at 4:40 PM on December 15, 2010


Is this "the beginning of the end of plane-making in Britain"?

Sure, apart from minor details like the Typhoon. Or the wings on the A380. But apart from some of the most advanced fighter-bombers on the planet or critical components of the largest full-production plane in history, yeah, the UK is out of aviation.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:57 PM on December 15, 2010 [1 favorite]


incomple: "Also, True Lies."

Yeah, I think of this and the 2000 year old Harriers in Battlefield Earth.
posted by brundlefly at 4:57 PM on December 15, 2010


Say what you want, but they were a pretty badass close-air support platform, and capable of maneuvers that no other aircraft could perform.

I always lusted after the USMC model - the AV8-B. That was a kickass airplane.
posted by Thistledown at 5:21 PM on December 15, 2010


i took my kids to see one at an airshiw, that whole vertical thing is very cool, especiall´╝îif you ar right underneath it. i like Tomcats too.
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 6:52 PM on December 15, 2010


Fighters are obsolete. Drones are where it's now at... they can make maneuvers that are simply unreal when they don't have to account for fragile pilot-meat on board, and can pack more firepower into where a human used to sit, or reduces the size and weight to where a cruiser can pack in ten of them where a missile array used to go.

But even that's old thinking. Take one of those hot new geek toys, the quad copter? Yeah. Now outfit it with a .25mm pellet barrel, a precision pellet, and a simple CO2 cartridge with a hi-po airgun trip-valve. You have an aircraft hat can fly in through a hostile's window, place a projectile in the middle of her* skull where the head-meats is, and fly off, with only an odd whirr to let the bodyguards** know something happened.

*Him! I meant him! Rogue governments would never buy this from our government to keep their non-violent democracy activists in line, and by in line, I mean dead.

**By bodyguards, I mean family and loved ones.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:39 PM on December 15, 2010 [3 favorites]


I spent six years working on Harrier - it was a real surprise when they were cut from the defense budget in favour of the Tornado. Today really is the end of an era.
posted by Nice Guy Mike at 7:52 PM on December 15, 2010


The last skipper of HMS ARK Royal is Captain Kyd.

Very droll, those Brits.
posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 9:43 PM on December 15, 2010


> It's like the Optimus Prime of jet planes!

I'd say it's more like the Slingshot of jet planes.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:13 PM on December 15, 2010


Buying F-35 to save money? WTF?
posted by polyglot at 10:42 PM on December 15, 2010


Moreover, Rolls Royce is one the major jet engine manufacturers in the world.
I don't know if you want to highlight rolls royce right now given the massive egg on their faces after the trent 900 debacle.
posted by krautland at 11:44 PM on December 15, 2010


Finningley Airshow, 1978. Harrier vertical takeoff == noisiest thing I had ever heard

Yeah I saw one at Farnborough once. Ridiculously loud, even from like 200-300m away.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 2:17 AM on December 16, 2010


vapidave -'Well, seeing as of the 824 Harrier variants delivered 91 were destroyed in use and very few of those were destroyed in combat I don't think that pilots will miss them much.'

Damn an 11% loss ratio. Sounds very high to me. Anyone know how it compares to other aircraft of similar ilk? Obviously there are a myriad of reasons why those listed have crashed but the problem of the inherrent instablility in the platform must be a contributing factor in many of those.
posted by numberstation at 2:27 AM on December 16, 2010


Numberstation: later models of the Harrier have a reaction control system -- bleed-air thrusters in the wingtips, nose and tail -- that make them much more stable in hover. Many of the losses took place in the early days, especially when the USMC took helicopter pilots and dropped them into the cockpit of a high-subsonic jet fighter with undesirable (read: unstable) behaviour in hovering flight. More recently -- any single-engined jet is vulnerable to bird strikes, especially if it spends a lot of time at treetop height.

(The scrapping of Ark Royal and the Harrier fleet is probably not an optimal response to dealing with the budget deficit; they'd have done better, IMO, to cancel the F35, modify the new carriers to have catapults, and buy second-hand FA-18Bs. I mean, just who exactly is the UK going to go up against that we need stealth capability and beyond visual range missiles to deal with?)

As for the end of aircraft building in the UK, that's just bollocks. The Nimrod airframe dates to a 1943 Air Ministry specification for a fast mail plane in the postwar era. And the Harrier has hit the buffers of development -- it dates its ancestry to the Hawker P.1127 from 1957, and current models are about twice as heavy as the first-build military Harriers. Claiming that discontinuing support for 1950s designs constitutes the "end of aircraft building" is self-evidently nonsense. Especially when BAe are building shit like Taranis.
posted by cstross at 4:34 AM on December 16, 2010 [3 favorites]


I look forward to reading that these have been bought by the Canadian Armed Forces and have all malfunctioned on their way to Canada and will need millions of dollars of repairs in order to render them as inoperable and obsolete as they were when we bought them.
posted by srboisvert at 4:51 AM on December 16, 2010


What I remember about the Harrier is seeing one in the Toronto air show. And watching the traffic on Lakeshore Blvd come to a standstill while drivers did double-takes. People knew it was the air show and were expecting jet fighters, of course. It was the fact that this one was just... hovering... that made people stop and stare.

Finningley Airshow, 1978. Harrier vertical takeoff == noisiest thing I had ever heard

For me, for a long time, that title was won by the Concorde's appearance at the Toronto air show in 1983 (I think), especially when it headed out over Lake Ontario at full afterburner. I swear I could feel some radiated heat from those four huge, orange-hot exhausts.

I think the more recent appearance of the F-22 was even louder than that, though.
posted by FishBike at 5:53 AM on December 16, 2010


Fighters are obsolete. Drones are where it's now at... they can make maneuvers that are simply unreal when they don't have to account for fragile pilot-meat on board, and can pack more firepower into where a human used to sit, or reduces the size and weight to where a cruiser can pack in ten of them where a missile array used to go.

Given that we've yet to see drones used in any situation where there's been drone vs. manned aircraft combat, or in fact any time where there hasn't been absolute domination of the local airspace, I'd say that's a really damn premature statement.

Get back to me when we see drones winning against a flight of Su-27s.
posted by happyroach at 9:06 AM on December 16, 2010


Get back to me when we see MiG SKaTs winning against Phantom Rays.

Gonna happen sooner rather than later.
posted by Slap*Happy at 10:11 PM on December 18, 2010


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