USMC AV-8B Harrier II hovering photo D. Miller
Feb. 10, 2012 defense-aerospace.com
(Source: Daily Mail; published February 12, 2012)
A Freedom of Information request to the Ministry of Defence has revealed that the controversial scrapping of the entire UK Harrier fleet took place whilst the planes were still undergoing a £500
The retirement of the jets, eight years earlier than scheduled, leaves the country without carrier-borne aircraft.
As to their fate, a second batch of aircraft has now made its way from RAF Cottesmore to Southampton where they are being shipped to America, having been sold to the US Marine Corps to provide spares for their craft. The paltry £116 million for which they were sold was a fraction of the cost of their upgrade.
The upgrade was part of the Joint Upgrade and Maintenance Programme (JUMP) which incorporated a major upgrade to the aircraft's avionics and weapons systems, enabling the aircraft to carry a variety of current and future weapons.
These included Maverick air-to-surface missiles, Brimstone anti-armour missiles and AIM9L Sidewinder air-to-air missiles for self-defence. Avionic improvements included the Rangeless Airborne Instrumentation Debriefing System, Successor Identification Friend or Foe and the Digital Joint Reconnaissance Pod. A new, stronger composite rear fuselage was also fitted.
This week, as Argentina continued their war of words over the Falklands by making complaints to the United Nations, the National Audit Office has raised concerns over the defence cuts, saying they could leave the country without an adequate future fighting force. (end of excerpt)
Click here for the full story, on the Daily Mail website.