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UK Harrier retirement & sale to US Marine Corps

Mike Pryce

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Leaks reported on SDSR were accurate. Harrier and current carriers to be retired, in 2011 for Harrier. 1 CVF to get cats and traps and F-35C from 2020. Other CVF to be mothballed. Nimrod MRA.4 cancelled, new 'low cost frigates' to join escort force numbering 19. Reduced Tornado fleet retained, numbers not clear.

Text on carrier strike:

We will need to operate only one aircraft carrier. We cannot now foresee circumstances in which the UK would require the scale of strike capability previously planned. We are unlikely to face adversaries in large-scale air combat. We are far more likely to engage in precision operations, which may need to overcome sophisticated air defence capabilities. The single carrier will therefore routinely have 12 fast jets embarked for operations while retaining the capacity to deploy up to the 36 previously planned, providing combat and intelligence capability much greater than the existing Harriers. It will be able to carry a wide range of helicopters, including up to 12 Chinook or Merlin transports and eight Apache attack helicopters. The precise mix of aircraft will depend on the mission, allowing the carrier to support a broad range of operations including landing a Royal Marines Commando Group, or a Special Forces Squadron conducting a counterterrorism strike, assisting with humanitarian crises or the evacuation of UK nationals.

A single carrier needs to be fully effective. As currently designed, the Queen Elizabeth will not be fully interoperable with key allies, since their naval jets could not land on it. Pursuit of closer partnership is a core strategic principle for the Strategic Defence and Security Review because it is clear that the UK will in most circumstances act militarily as part of a wider coalition. We will therefore install catapult and arrestor gear. This will delay the in-service date of the new carrier from 2016 to around 2020. But it will allow greater interoperability with US and French carriers and naval jets. It provides the basis for developing joint Maritime Task Groups in the future. This should both ensure continuous carrier-strike availability, and reduce the overall carrier protection requirements on the rest of the fleet, releasing ships for other naval tasks such as protection of key sea-lanes, or conducting counter- piracy and narcotics operations.

The strike needs to be made more capable. Installing the catapult and arrestor will allow the UK to acquire the carrier-variant of Joint Strike Fighter ready to deploy on the converted carrier instead of the short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL) variant. This version of the jet has a longer range and greater payload: this, not large numbers of aircraft, is the critical requirement for precision strike operations in the future. The UK plans to operate a single model of JSF, instead of different land and naval variants. Overall, the carrier-variant of the JSF will be cheaper, reducing through-life costs by around 25%.

The current, limited carrier-strike capability will be retired. We must face up to the difficult choices put off by the last Government. Over the next five years combat air support to operations in Afghanistan must be the over-riding priority: the Harrier fleet would not be able to provide this and sustain a carrier-strike role at the same time. Even after 2015, short-range Harriers – whether operating from HMS Illustrious or HMS Queen Elizabeth – would provide only a very limited coercive capability. We judge it unlikely that this would be sufficiently useful in the latter half of the decade to be a cost-effective use of defence resources.

Fast jets:

Our fast jet fleet will be made up of two modern and highly capable multi-role combat aircraft, Typhoon and Joint Strike Fighter. This combination will provide the flexibility and strike power to deal with a variety of new and existing threats, while also radically improving cost-effectiveness and efficiency.
Our current fleet of Harrier and Tornado air defence and ground attack aircraft have performed magnificently over the last 30 years, and Tornados currently provide essential support to our forces in Afghanistan and elsewhere. But these aircraft risk becoming outdated as threats continue to become more varied and sophisticated, and maintenance of such veteran fleets will become an increasing challenge. Rationalising our fast jet forces to two advanced and efficient fleets makes operational and economic sense.
We will therefore continue to develop our modern and extremely capable land-based Typhoon fighter, upgrading its ability to attack ground targets, and give it the additional advanced capabilities it needs to maintain its fighting edge over the next 20 years. We will also buy the carrier variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, a state-of the-art aircraft with an exceptionally broad range of capabilities, and an expected service life of several decades. It is specifically designed to operate independently in very challenging environments. It will carry a variety of electronic sensors to build up an unmatched picture of the threats around it, which it will be able to share with other UK and allied air, ground and maritime forces, linking into our future military networks. Joint Strike Fighter is also designed to be more affordable across its operating life, benefitting from an expected production run of more than 3,000 aircraft.

Full document at:

http://www.direct.gov.uk/prod_consum_dg/groups/dg_digitalassets/@dg/@en/documents/digitalasset/dg_191634.pdf
 

F-14D

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Although they keep referring to Harriers as "short ranged" to help justify their decision, there's something to keep in mind when talking about range as related to carriers operating from ships. Although the overall range specifications quoted for various aircraft are accurate, when operating from ships another number comes into play: the actual operational range.

Generally speaking, in a CTOL it is desirable to have 25% internal fuel remaining when arriving overhead the ship. This is to allow for delays due to weather or a fouled deck, bolters, etc., and still have enough fuel to get to a tanker, if the ship has one available. With a STOVL aircraft such as a Harrier, you don't need to keep anywhere near as much reserve because they usually don't apply. That fuel % is therefore available to be used on the mission. So a STOVL's operational range doesn't have to degrade as much as a CTOL's does when it goes aboard.

But that's kind of a side issue here. The question that seems to be glossed over is, what does Britain do when the Queen Elizabeth is undergoing maintenance?
 

F-14D

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Another thought on this:

Part of this might be political theater. A byproduct of this decision is that they're going to put catapults and arresting gear on one or both ships. The claim in the paper is that this will force the ship to be delayed until 2020. Now, the Queen Elizabeth class design has always had provision to add those at any time. It's inconceivable that it would take four years to do that modification to a fully built ship already designed for it, you wouldn't want it out of service that long. Yet now, for a ship that's still in the construction stage where incorporating that mod would be easier, it's going to cause a four or five year delay?

I suspect they always were going to delay the ship, this just gives them political cover ("It was circumstances outside our control" Couldn't be helped".) and they can let someone else deal with it. The US did the same thing in the '90s.
 

Abraham Gubler

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F-14D said:
I suspect they always were going to delay the ship, this just gives them political cover ("It was circumstances outside our control" Couldn't be helped".) and they can let someone else deal with it. The US did the same thing in the '90s.

Its political cover for delaying the ship and a significant cut to the British fast jet force (RAF and RN). The arguments for capability are bollocks and interoperability overstated. They have new interoperability with the USN and French Navy but they lose interoperability with the USMC, Spanish and Italian Navies and via the friendliness of STOVL operations with helicopters interoperability with the British Army.

By converting their carrier needs from F-35B to F-35C they will disband the Harrier force within a year enabling a drive down of the fast jet fleet from 330 to under 200. Also when (or if) operating the new CTOL carrier will be part of a joint carrier force with France. Each Navy would then provide a carrier for one year out of two with a joint air wing. It would not surprise me if France were to replace the Charles de Gaulle with the surplus CVF so as to avoid the high cost of nuclear refuelling. The next such event for CdG is due around 2016.

Anyway it’s a shattering blow for the British Forces as they now withdraw “West of Suez”…
 

danielgrimes

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Had Brazil not recently completed a 5 year refit of their carrier the MoD could have sold Ark Royal, Illustrious (assuming Ocean wins that debate) and Joint force Harrier as a job lot! Are there any other countries would would want a ready made Navy (they's obviously need several destryoers to escort) and who we would trust?
 

Nick

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There is a further element to the UK carrier fleet we should not overlook.

HMS Ocean, the helicopter assault carrier, was built at a lower cost with a 20 year lifespan. That puts her out of service by 2018 in theory and maybe as long away as 2025 with an overhaul. I do wonder if the HMS Elizabeth II will be a 'regular' carrier while HMS Prince of Wales will be redesigned for better helicopter operations (more troop space), entering service betwen 2018 and 2025?

That gives us 1 new aircraft carrier and a replacement helicopter carrier for the Royal Marines.


And the future of HMS Invincible and HMS Ark Royal? I wouldn't mind seeing one kept as a floating aircraft Museum ;) rather than selling both to another country's military or for scrap.
 

Mike Pryce

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An interesting view from Eric Grove:

http://www.yorkshirepost.co.uk/opinion/Eric-Grove-Navy-under-attack.6593647.jp

It's hard to find anyone outside of the Air Staff who supports the Tornado over Harrier (just do a Google News search!)
 

red admiral

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harrier said:
It's hard to find anyone outside of the Air Staff who supports the Tornado over Harrier (just do a Google News search!)

It's a very different view within MoD. It's possible to live without the flexibility (i.e. carriers ops) that Harrier gives for a couple of years. It isn't possible to live without the deep strike capability of Tornado for the next decade. The RN's aircraft carriers are flexible assets and can be used for a variety of tasks. Unfortunately, we're not actually planning to be using them that much and so it becomes more cost/effective to use land-based assets. The government is playing a risky game by not having a carrier available, but is able to save a lot of money for that risk. Overall, Tornado is the more cost/effective choice for what the UK is likely to be doing.

Often overlooked is that the RAF is actually losing more Tornados than Harriers. About half will go in the next few years (and one of the bases) with the rest by 2020 (ish).

Before SDSR pretty much everyone knew that Harrier was going and could live with that. Now that the decision has actually been made there's uproar. Most of it's from the RN, but then you ask what should have been cut instead? Same with MRA4, it's possible to save massive amounts of money by cutting it. The RAF is already being trimmed to little more than Typhoon, C-17 and Chinook and all in small numbers. There isn't anything else left to cut. The best answer is to cut more from other government departments instead of Defence, but it's not a realistic option in this political climate.
 

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I just studied a few documents regarding the 2011 reductions in RAF and RN and I came to the conclusion, that it is a very bad joke. They are going to cancell or retire almost everything and if my counting is right, the number of the battle planes will be less than 200, making it the smallest number of battle aircrafts in the last 100 years, equal to the numbers in the beginning of the 1st world war!!!!!

  • the planned fleet of 232 Eurofighters was reduced to the 160 and now to only 112
  • the planned fleet of 150 F-35B was reduced to 138 and now to only 50 - simultaneously there is a change to the version F-35C
  • retire almost all of the Tornado GR.4 and GR.4A fleet - there will be only a 40 short lived vehicles, supporting operations in Afghanistan
  • retire all Harrier fleet together with the HMS Ark Royal - it means that the RN and marine corps will loose any air support for at least next 10 years
  • cancelled Nimrod MRA.4, cancelled modernisation of the Sentry EAW.1 with the reduction to only 3 aircrafts in service
  • retire all the fleet of the Sea King HAR.3 and HAR.3A
  • the planned fleet of 24 Chinook HC.4 reduced to half

The only two programs where the old aircrafts are replaced by the equal new ones are the procurement of the RC-135V/W Rivet Joint to replace the Nimrod R.1 (but causing retirement of the Sentinel R.1, that became operational only in 2009!) and procurement of the A330-200 MRTT to replace the Tri Star and VC-10 fleet. Hopefully in the future the fleet of the 36 Hercules transport planes (going to be retired till the 2022) will be replaced by 22 A400M.

Closed air force bases: RAF Leuchars, RAF Lossiemouth, RAF Marham, RAF Cottesmore, RAF Wittering, RAF Kinloos, RAF Leeming, RAF Scampton, RAF Linton-on-Ouse

Conclusion: Currently the RAF must do all the best to secure all of the tasks in its own territory and also in abroad military operations. In that process, it lost all of its reserves. For example the air crews are rotating nonstop, meaning that they don't have any time for training of further education! I cant imagine, how they are going to secure this tasks after 2011, when they are going to retire 300 planes, cancell the procurement of the dozens of new ones and lost 20 % of the all RAF personall. If this be reality, I will say:

Welcome new Royal Air Force!
 

Archibald

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Yes of course. Tornado suddendly become "outdated" while Harrier are "short ranged"
Although they keep referring to Harriers as "short ranged" to help justify their decision

As we say in french "qui veut noyer son chien l'accuse de la rage"
(if you want to get ride of your dog just say it has rabies)
 

Mike Pryce

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It isn't possible to live without the deep strike capability of Tornado for the next decade.

That's a discussion point! In the post New Labour/wars of liberal intervention world that Cameron looks to it likely would be possible to live without it. Also, deep strike means Storm Shadow largely - LGB's, Brimstone etc. missions can be done by a Harrier or Typhoon with tanker support. Presumably some Iranian or North Korean bunker busting scenario can be used to justify the capability (BROACH is good at that), but will it be the UK doing such a thing? There are more likely candidates in any such missions. And as I understand it, using Storm Shadow in Iraq required a lawyer in the loop and several days for mission planning. Not very flexible.

As for the only likely UK interventions, Sierra Leone type ops, deep strike is virtually irrelevant. Flexibility would matter more. However, Army support from a Royal Navy ship is not a core justification for a separate RAF - their reflex defence for their separate existence (with very few combat aircraft now) is always deep strike. Hence keeping 5 Tornado squadrons (though the main official justification is to keep 10 in Afghanistan for Army support, not deep strike - Harrier maintained the Afghan commitment with only 3 squadrons and 6-8 in theatre)

Anyway, I have heard from several sources that final UK Harrier ops will be in mid December 2010. The RAF pushed for instant termination after the SDSR, Cameron announced April 2011, so the difference has been split.
 

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harrier said:
...missions can be done by a Harrier or Typhoon...

The question is, which Harrier or Typhoon? Former will be retired soon and the fleet of the latter was reduced to less than half, barely enough to defend its own UK airspace. And that's the whole point that I don't get at all: if in the recent years is the significant reduction in aircrafts, other stuff and personnel, where is the plan for the reduction in goals, tasks and capabilities? The current RAF is not capable to support its current tasks, so how the significantly reduced 2011 RAF can?
 

shedofdread

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I don't know who I am more angry with - the last, Labour government for their miss-management of the economy or the current coalition government for their lack of creativity in looking for alternative solutions. It speaks volumes for the current political class that none of them have run a business. If they had, they would have a different, more 'can do' approach rather than this depressingly defeatist one.

On to more 'serious' notes - how about a roundup of all the Buccaneer airframes still in existance?

S

PS I don't know how many contributors are UK citizens but to those who are - it may not help but do lobby your MP.
 

starviking

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shedofdread said:
PS I don't know how many contributors are UK citizens but to those who are - it may not help but do lobby your MP.

Ex-Pat myself - I did weigh in on those 'Number 10 Petitions' occasionally, are they still going?
 

Mike Pryce

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The Number 10 petitions site is on hold - why listen to your electorate?

Writing to your MP is a good idea, but be quick!

The new Labour shadow defence minister, Jim Murphy, has asked for the Harrier/Tornado cost details and info on the 'military advice' Cameron used to justify cancelling the Harrier so that it can be properly debated. However, by time these details come out it may be too late - the December date leaves little time for a rethink, while April may have allowed such a thing.

What was it Sir Sydney Camm said - an aircraft has four dimensions, length, span, height and politics?
 

red admiral

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The SDSR document itself spells things out pretty clearly, and Liam Fox has been making statements in the House which add to it.

One of the main problems with Harrier was the small airframe pool. If we had stuck with Harrier we would be faced with a choice of either supporting ops in Afghanistan at a lower level than before, or a small carrier/expeditionary group. We couldn't do both with Harrier. Keeping the Tornado fleet, even when the airframes are being cut, means that we can still maintain ops in Afghanistan, and have an expeditionary force to deploy if need be.

At least we actually have a decision from all this rather than some godforsaken mess where both types lived on in smaller numbers. Defence Acquisition Reviews keep pointing out that taking entire types out of service is the best way to save money. This time, the government actually listened.

Typhoon is still in for 160 airframes, the ~110 number are active airframes, whereas the 160 also comprise the reserve fleet. We could dip into them, but would likely be running them so hard we'd have to replace them around 2030. Typhoon procurement is being speeded up, along with fitting as much air-to-ground capability as possible. We should have 2 multi-role squadrons by ~2015 to replace the GR4 cuts.

Deep precision strike is still very much on the cards, and was a driving factor behind the JSF-CV choice. It's worth noting that numbers for this haven't been announced yet, despite the rampant speculation. One of the main drivers for numbers now is the UCAS program; if we buy lots of CV, the justification disappears. For the 2020s, the force mix will be Typhoons and CVs. For the 2030s, likely fewer Typhoons, CVs, and UCAS.

And that's the whole point that I don't get at all: if in the recent years is the significant reduction in aircrafts, other stuff and personnel, where is the plan for the reduction in goals, tasks and capabilities?

That does come into things a bit as well. The National Security Strategy published beforehand gave details of what the UK as a country wants to be able to do. There have been quite a few cuts in tasks and capabilities in consequence.
 

Mike Pryce

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Of course, we could withdraw from Afghanistan. I know many people in the Army who see it as a pointless exercise, and I know a couple of Afghan refugees who agree. Has it stopped a single terror attack on UK soil? The justification for the Afghan deployment is nonsense, and planning to leave on a fixed date already half-acknowledges the fact.

As for 'deep strike', against whom? A token few Storm Shadows mean little. It's just a way to keep the RAF 'in the game'.

As for costs, calculating Tornado costs and Harrier costs is what I do for a living (for the US Navy!). Can't see any real problem with a Harrier (current fleet) and Tornado force sized solely for Afghan ops OR deep strike (not both) costing any more than what we have been landed with. There are various 'ways and means'. Reducing the scale of Tornado overheads would equal the saving from abolishing Harrier entirely.
 

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http://www.character-online.com/hmaf/raf/RAF-Fast-Attack-VTOL-Jet/
.....how do we break it to the children?
 

hagaricus

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Are they really to be scrapped? I would have thought that as the cuts are an economy measure, it would make more sense to sell them? Is this a matter of airframe life & operating costs? I can think of any number of roles for this aircraft in any number of different countries. <long stovl fantasy removed> It would be shame to think they're scrapping aircraft with life in them.
 

Grey Havoc

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An interesting article from the Telegraph on the Coalition's defence cuts. Why put it here, you may ask? Scroll down to around the sixth paragraph or so. :mad:
 

Grey Havoc

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The MOD is denying the story. From defensemanagement.com (via MP.net):

MoD denies sale of Harriers to US

15 June 2011


The Ministry of Defence has denied reports that Britain's Harrier jump jets are to be sold to the US Marine Corps for spare parts.

A report in The Daily Telegraph suggested a £34m deal had already been finalised, and a 'Ministry of Defence insider' quoted in the newspaper said that selling Harriers to the US was "not a bad option in terms of cooperation".

Britain's Harriers, as well as aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, were scrapped following last October's Strategic Defence and Security Review.

As a result of the scrapping, the UK will not have carrier strike capability until the first of the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers come into service in 2019.

The US AV8B Harrier fleet's lifespan is being extended due to delays in the production of its replacement, the Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said: "As decided in the SDSR, Harrier aircraft will be disposed of through whatever means will get best value-for-money for the UK taxpayer while ensuring appropriate future use of the assets.

"Discussions about options for disposal are ongoing."

http://www.defencemanagement.com/news_story.asp?id=16612

Lying through their back teeth?
 

Triton

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U.S. To Buy Decommissioned British Harrier Jets
By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS, VAGO MURADIAN and ANDREW CHUTER
Published: 13 Nov 2011 12:13

WASHINGTON and LONDON - Britain has agreed to sell all of its 74 decommissioned Harrier jump jets, along with engines and spare parts, to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps - a move expected to help the Marines operate Harriers into the mid-2020s and provide extra planes to replace aging two-seat F-18D Hornet strike fighters.

A Harrier GR9 takes off for the last time in November 2010 from the now-decommissioned aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal. The U.S. Navy and Marine Corps are buying 74 decommissioned British Harrier jump jets. (U.K. Ministry of Defence)

Rear Adm. Mark Heinrich, chief of the U.S. Navy's Supply Corps, confirmed the two-part deal Nov. 10 during a conference in New York sponsored by Bank of America Merrill Lynch in association with Defense News.

Heinrich negotiated the $50 million purchase of all Harrier spare parts, while Rear Adm. Donald Gaddis, the U.S. Navy's program executive officer for tactical aircraft, is overseeing discussions to buy the Harrier aircraft and their Rolls-Royce engines, Heinrich said.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence in London confirmed the Disposal Services Agency was in talks with the U.S. Navy for the sale of the Harriers. The deal had yet to be concluded, he said Nov. 11.

Britain retired its joint force of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Harrier aircraft late last year in one of the most controversial moves of the defense reductions, which also cut the aircraft carriers that operated the jets, other warships, maritime patrol planes and personnel.

Most of the retired Harriers are stored at the Royal Air Force base at Cottesmore, England.

They have been undergoing minimum fleet maintenance, including anti-deterioration measures, in order to keep them airworthy, Heinrich said.

A spokesman for the U.S. Navy's Naval Air Systems Command declined Nov. 11 to comment on the deal, deferring to the British military.

An MoD source said Nov. 11 that he thought both deals could be signed in the next week or two. The MoD source confirmed that the entire fleet of 74 Harrier aircraft was involved in the sale.

Heinrich noted that payment details were the only outstanding issue on the parts deal discussions, and he said the purchase will give the U.S. Marines a relatively economical way to get their hands on key components to keep the Harrier fleet running.
Similar Aircraft

While it is unusual for the U.S. to buy used foreign military aircraft for operation, integration of the British planes into Marine Corps squadrons shouldn't be a major problem, one expert said.

"I don't think it will be costly to rip out the Brit systems" and replace them with Marine gear, said Lon Nordeen, author of several books on the Harrier.

Nordeen noted that the British GR 9 and 9As are similar in configuration to the Marines' AV-8B night attack version, which make up about a third of U.S. Harriers. The British planes also are night planes dedicated to air-ground attack, he said, and while both types carry Forward Looking Infrared (FLIR) sensors, neither is fitted with a multimode radar such as the APG-65 carried by U.S. AV-8B+ models.

The absence of the big radar, Nordeen said, makes the GR 9A and AV-8Bs "a better-performing plane. Weighing less, it's more of a hot rod."

British GR 9s, although upgraded with improved avionics and weapons, are powered by the Rolls-Royce Mark 105 Pegasus engine. GR 9As have the more powerful Mark 107, similar to the Rolls-Royce F402-RR-408s that power Marine AV-8Bs.

British and U.S. Harrier II aircraft had a high degree of commonality from their origin. The planes were developed and built in a joint arrangement between British Aerospace - now BAE Systems - and McDonnell Douglas, now a division of Boeing. While each company built its own wings, all forward sections of the British and American Harrier IIs were built by McDonnell in St. Louis, Mo., while British Aerospace built the fuselage sections aft of the cockpit.

"All the planes have to fit together," Nordeen said.

The Harrier IIs, built between 1980 and 1995, "are still quite serviceable," he said. "The aircraft are not that far apart. We're taking advantage of all the money the Brits have spent on them. It's like we're buying a car with maybe 15,000 miles on it."

Operationally, Nordeen said, "these are very good platforms. They need upgrades, but on bombing missions they have the ability to incorporate the Litening II targeting pod [used by U.S. aircraft]. They're good platforms. And we've already got trained pilots."

Marine Corps Harriers are to be phased out by 2025, when replacement by new F-35B Joint Strike Fighters should be complete.

Nordeen, however, said he expects the British Harriers to be used initially to replace two-seat Marine F-18D Hornet fighters now operated in the night attack role.

"The F-18Ds are more worn out than the Harriers," Nordeen said. "Most of the conversions [of ex-British aircraft] early on will be to replace 18Ds and not Harriers." He noted the first Marine F-35B squadron already is slated to replace an F-18D unit.

Nordeen applauded the move.

"I would see this as a good bargain to extend the operational utility of the Harrier II fleet, no matter what," he said.

Source:
http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=8225756&c=AIR&s=TOP
 

Triton

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US Marines 'to buy all UK harriers '
14 November 2011

The US government is finalising a deal that will see it purchase all 74 of the UK's decommissioned Harrier jump jets and their spare parts, it has been reported.

The Ministry of Defence has confirmed it is working on a deal with the US for the sale of "Harrier assets", but said it would be inappropriate to comment on the future of the fleet, currently in storage at RAF Cottesmore.

The deal is likely to be completed in the next two weeks, DefenceManagement.com understands.

Reports have suggested that any deal would see the US pay $50m for Britain's inventory of Harrier spares and a further unspecified amount for the aircraft themselves and their Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk-105 and Mk-107 engines,

The US Marine Corps currently operates around 120 Harrier AV-8B aircraft, including training variants, but is expected to phase out the Harrier as the F-35B, the Short Take Off and Vertical Landing variant of the Joint Strike Fighter (JSF), comes into service in the middle of the next decade.

British Harrier jump jets and aircraft carriers were scrapped in the 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review, which left the country without carrier strike capability until the launch of the first of the Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers in 2019. The new carriers will operate the F-35C carrier variant of the JSF.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman told DefenceManagement.com: "We are currently negotiating the sale of Harrier assets to the US government. It would therefore be inappropriate to comment on the future of the Harrier fleet at this time. "

Source:
http://www.defencemanagement.com/news_story.asp?id=18010
 

SteveO

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I've got no objection to the USMC purchasing the UK's Harrier fleet. It will be good to see them put to use by people who truly appreciate their capabilities.
 

F-14D

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I'm a bit confused. Most reports up to this point have indicated that the US was interested in the UK Harriers as part for its existing AV-8B fleet. This seems to imply that the USMC will actually be operating them?
 

Thorvic

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F-14D said:
I'm a bit confused. Most reports up to this point have indicated that the US was interested in the UK Harriers as part for its existing AV-8B fleet. This seems to imply that the USMC will actually be operating them?
Well the USMC only have funding to extend the lives for a set number of legacy Hornets, and as the Harrier GR9's had already been refitted to extend their lives i guess it made sense to make use of them to replace tired Hornets in the night attack role than just as AV-8B spares, it also plays into their policy to move towards a STOVL focused fixed wing airgroup, as eventually they will only have the 60 F-35C with the rest of their strike aircraft being F-35Bs
 

TomS

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F-14D said:
I'm a bit confused. Most reports up to this point have indicated that the US was interested in the UK Harriers as part for its existing AV-8B fleet. This seems to imply that the USMC will actually be operating them?


I believe your original thought is correct. All of the new reports appear to trace back to the Defense News report above, which introduced the idea of the ex-RAF Harriers being made operational to replace the F/A-18D.

However, that notion that the Marines will actually operate the ex-RAF aircraft comes from Lon Nordeen, a writer of books about Harrier but not someone with inside knowledge of the program, AFAIK. His speculation is in sharp contrast to the comment by RADM Heinrich that the purchases will provide spares to keep the existing AV-8B force flying.
 

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MoD and USMC To Confirm RAF Harrier Sale Posted by Armed Forces International's Aviation Expert on 14/11/2011 - 11:05:00

The RAF's retired Harrier jump-jet fleet is set for a new life with the US Marines Corps, according to comments made by defence officials in mid-November 2011.
While awaiting the supply of signatures to a formal agreement between the Ministry of Defence and the USMC, the sale's reportedly at an advanced stage and details concerning it were made public at the recent Bank of America Merrill Lynch Defense Outlook Forum event, held on 10 November in New York.


The October 2010 Strategic Defence and Security Review confirmed the withdrawal of the Harrier from British military service, along with HMS Ark Royal. This continues to leave a capability gap within the British armed forces, with a temporary loss of fixed-wing naval airpower.

USMC Harrier Purchase

This situation will be rectified later this decade when the Joint Strike Fighter enters service. The JSF is being produced in three variants, including a STOVL (Short Take-Off and Vertical Landing) version, which will ultimately equip the USMC.


In the meantime, though, the USMC is continuing on with the US-built version of the Harrier - the AV-8B Harrier II. The expected USMC Harrier purchase will serve to boost the AV-8B fleet and give it new source of spare parts on which to draw, helping extend its service life to around 2025.

RAF Harrier Sale

Previously, the Ministry of Defence had denied earlier rumours linking the 74 out-of-service RAF Harriers with the USMC. Now, the RAF Harrier sale situation seems much more solid and an article recently published by Navy Times (produced by the US Navy) states that a firm agreement is close to being established.


Speaking to Defense News, a MoD representative has also suggested that the Harrier sale could be in motion by the end of November this year.


Since the RAF Harriers were retired, they've been in storage at RAF Cottesmore, from which they once operated. They've been kept in a semi-active state, potentially making them more valuable to future customers.
http://www.armedforces-int.com/news/mod-and-usmc-to-confirm-raf-harrier-sale.html
 

TomS

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crabanero said:
Now, the RAF Harrier sale situation seems much more solid and an article recently published by Navy Times (produced by the US Navy) states that a firm agreement is close to being established.

Contrary to this article, Navy Times is NOT produced by the US Navy -- it's a publication of the Gannett newspaper group, the same company that publishes Defense News, the original source for this story. So it's all pretty circular still.
 

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danielg said:
Had Brazil not recently completed a 5 year refit of their carrier the MoD could have sold Ark Royal, Illustrious (assuming Ocean wins that debate) and Joint force Harrier as a job lot! Are there any other countries would would want a ready made Navy (they's obviously need several destryoers to escort) and who we would trust?

If I were a sensible Australian Prime Minister, I'd buy the lot immediately until such time as the F-35 VTOL was present in large numbers for affordability (we almost got Invincible in 1982 as it was). Of course since the current lot spent $200bn on a whole lot of other stuff, an instant Fleet Air Arm for the RAN isn't really doable any more...
 

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Just a bit more information, including apparent confirmation that the USMC does not plan to fly the ex-RAF aircraft, just use them for spares.

http://defensenews.com/story.php?i=8286920&c=EUR&s=SEA

U.S. Marines Won't Fly Brit Harriers By CHRISTOPHER P. CAVAS
Published: 17 Nov 2011 13:52 An official announcement could come within days of Britain's sale of its remaining Harrier jump jets to the U.S. Marine Corps, but sources are saying privately the purchase will be strictly for spare parts and logistic support, and not a move to increase the operational fleet.
"We have no intent at any point to ever fly any of these" British jets, said one U.S. source.The two-part deal was revealed Nov. 10 during a conference in New York, when Rear Adm. Mark Heinrich, chief of the U.S. Navy's Supply Corps, told attendees he had negotiated a $50 million deal to purchase the spare parts inventory from the British.
A separate deal, he said, was being negotiated by the U.S. Navy's Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) to acquire all 74 remaining GR Mark 9 and Mark 9A Harriers and their spare Rolls-Royce engines from the British.
Neither NAVAIR nor the British Ministry of Defence would officially comment on the negotiations, but sources on both sides of the Atlantic confirmed the deal was in the works.
Heinrich said the spare parts deal was worth $50 million, but no value for the larger aircraft and engine deal has been revealed.
One U.S. source, however, said that acquisition of the British aircraft and their spares could save the Marines up to $1 billion over the life of the fleet. The Marines plan to operate the AV-8B at least until 2025, when conversion to the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter is expected to be completed.
Britain retired its joint force of Royal Air Force and Royal Navy Harrier aircraft late last year in one of the most controversial moves in a series of defense reductions, which also cut the aircraft carriers that operated the jets, other warships, maritime patrol planes and personnel.
British and U.S. Harrier II aircraft had a high degree of commonality from the beginning. The planes were developed and built in a joint arrangement between British Aerospace - now BAE Systems - and McDonnell Douglas, now a division of Boeing. While each company built its own wings, all forward sections of the British and American Harrier IIs were built by McDonnell in St. Louis, while British Aerospace built the fuselage sections aft of the cockpit.
"All the planes have to fit together," Lon Nordeen, a Harrier expert and author of several books about the aircraft, pointed out.
"There are significant differences between Royal Air Force GR Mark 9s and Marine AV-8Bs, which would be a challenge to overcome," Nordeen added. "However, the engines and spare parts would be very valuable for long-term sustainment of the Marine Corps Harrier fleet."
U.S. Navy and Marine Corps sources would not comment last week on media queries about their plans for the British jets, leading to speculation that the aircraft might be made operational.
 

shedofdread

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So, am I right in saying in that our Lords and masters have sold 72 flyable, combat aircraft for $180 million? Which we don't need Carol Vorderman (UK only reference, there ;) ) to tell us is $2.5m each *shakes head in disbelief*. And to think, these people run the economy...

Put another way, for what they got for the Harriers, they could buy about 1 3/4 Typhoons...
 

red admiral

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shedofdread said:
So, am I right in saying in that our Lords and masters have sold 72 flyable, combat aircraft for $180 million? Which we don't need Carol Vorderman (UK only reference, there ;) ) to tell us is $2.5m each *shakes head in disbelief*. And to think, these people run the economy...

The problem is that the worth of miltiary equipment is very different to what you've actually paid for it. It's a very specialised bit of kit which can't simply be used for other applications. Personally, managing to sell them at all has got to be a good thing. The actual price paid? Why would the USMC pay the "as new" price given that that aircraft isn't interoperable with their current fleet. Does selling the Harrier fleet to the USMC relatively cheaply help to rectify the damage done to the relationship by bailing out of F-35B? Probably yes, quite a bit.
 

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There is also this existing topic in The Bar:

"UK SDSR cuts to RN/RAF - Harrier to retire in 2011"
http://www.secretprojects.co.uk/forum/index.php/topic,11290.0.html

Shouldn't the two topics be merged since they are devoted to the same topic?
 

Mike Pryce

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I will - got tickets for the Ladies Beach Volleyball.

Chris
 

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This is a non-issue. Long, very long lead times to do anything aeronautical. Upgrade initiated long ago, to keep Joint Force Harrier credible to IOC F-35B/C. Ministers change minds 2008, again 2011 (doubtless again next Wednesday). Priorities. Missions. Sunk cost is...sunk. Does not protect from saving unsunk cost. Harrier withdrawal was because that platform is a remarkably expensive means of delivering ordnance/gathering tactical data if V/STOL is not core to the task. Which, bar maritime, it is now not. We tried to sell Sea Harrier F/A2 to India, but our monopoly supply clashed with their monopsony buy and no deal could be done. Bravo MoD for doing a deal with DoD. The alternative was tenders from scrappies. Ministers had chosen not to keep >1,500 professionals on-Task at Cottesmore. So why dither trying to keep them recoverable, just-in-case. In case what? No-one left current to fly or support them.
 

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Final farewell formation of British Harrier jets, flying over the Houses of Parliament.

Move back a couple of feet to better see their diplomatic message to the British Government.
 

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