|12/02 - Indian Navy gets Harrier trainers.
The Indian Navy is due to fly the first of its two newly acquired T.Mk.4(I) trainers
during early-mid 2003. These are ex-RAF T.Mk.4 aircraft, reconditioned and updated
at BAE Systems Warton and delivered to the Indian naval base at Goa by Antonov
An-124 in September. Both aircraft have benifitted from a major structural overhaul,
completely new wiring harnesses plus many other mods (e.g. introduction of larger
wing RCS ducts and Martin Baker Mk.10 ejection seats). After re-assembly, avionics
integration checks and flight test the two aircraft, IN655 (ex-ZB602) and IN656
(ex-ZB600) are scheduled to take their place alongside the reduced Harrier T.Mk.60
force in training the Indian Navy's front-line Sea Harrier pilots.
|09/02 - UK selects STOVL F-35 JSF/FJCA.
The UK MoD announced on 30th September 2002 its selection of the short take-off
and vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike
Fighter to equip the Royal Navy's new aircraft carriers. The STOVL F-35 is to
replace the Harrier GR.9/9A both afloat and ashore in fulfillment of the Future
Joint Carrier Aircraft programme.The carriers will be designed to allow future
adaptation to accommodate CTOL aircraft designs if need be, given that they are
planned to have a service life of up to fifty years. BAe Systems and Thales, competitors
in the design and construction of the vessels, have been asked to opt for a design
which could be adapted to operate CTOL aircraft later in the ships' lives. The
chosen vessel design will have the capability to have catapults and arrestor gear
added later, but will be built initially with the "ski-jump" fitted to the current
Invincible class carriers.
Carrier pictures - BAE
|09/02 - First Harrier GR.7A flies. The BAE
Systems Harrier GR.7A flew for the first time from the company's Warton airfield
on 20th September. Fitted with a Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk.107 the aircraft is the
first of 40 such updated aircraft, to be designated GR.7A or GR.9A. Along with
the more powerful engine the aircraft will also receive new rear fuselages to
eliminate exhaust induced fatigue problems. More details of the GR.7A/GR.9A can
be found in our Technical section.
See also BAE Systems' press
release on the GR.7A flight.
|08/02 - GR.9 update moves ahead. BAE Systems
and the UK MoD are finalising the full development contract for the Harrier GR.9/9a
and T.Mk.12 update. The programme aims to fully re-equip Joint Force Harrier after
the phaseout of the Sea Harrier.
|02/02 - Royal Navy to retire Sea Harrier. The UK Ministry
of Defence set out on 28th February 2002 its strategy to develop the Joint Force
Harrier over the coming years. At present, Royal Navy and Royal Air Force pilots
in Joint Force Harrier fly a mixture of Sea Harrier F/A2 and Harrier GR.7 aircraft.
It has been decided to withdraw the Sea Harrier from service in 2004-6 and to
upgrade the Harrier GR.7 to a new GR.9 standard, to be flown by pilots from both
Services. The planned withdrawal of the Sea Harrier reflects an increasing emphasis
on offensive air operations and the perceived limitations of the Sea Harrier in
this role. The introduction later in the decade of the new Type 45 destroyer will
provide the required level of fleet air defence. The transition to a single aircraft
type in the Force should simplify logistics (the F/A2 and GR.7 have minimal commonality),
particularly when embarked aboard carriers, whilst the upgrade to GR.9/9A will
ensure a potent capability until the introduction of the Future Joint Combat Aircraft
- most likely met by the Joint Strike Fighter programme. More information can
be found at www.royal-navy.mod.uk.
|11/01 - USMC Harriers conduct Afghan airstrikes.
15th Marine Expeditionary Unit AV-8B Harriers launched from USS Peleliu on 3rd
November to fly bombing missions on Taliban and al-Qaida command and control positions
in Southern Afghanistan. The aircraft were armed with 500 lb. Mk.82 bombs and
returned to their parent ship in the Arabian Sea four hours later. The 15th MEU
(SOC) deployed to the Arabian Sea on 28th September, equipped with six Harriers.
The aircraft have flown further missions since 3rd November, although there are
no announced plans in early December to deploy them from airstrips within Afghanistan.
More information on the 15th MEU (SOC) can be found at www.15meu.usmc.mil.
|10/01 - Lockheed Martin wins JSF competition.
It was announced in Washington on 26th October that the Lockheed Martin team had
been selected to proceed to Enginneering and Manufacturing Development (EMD) with
its X-35 JSF. This includes the X-35B STOVL version, which will be developed for
use by the USMC, RAF and Royal Navy. Existing Harrier operators such as Italy
and Spain are also prospective customers for the version, likely to be re-designated
F-35B in service. BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce are partnered with Lockheed Martin
and Pratt & Whitney on airframe and engine development respectively.
|08/01 - USMC retires 'vanilla' AV-8B from front
line. On 20 July VMA-513 flew the squadron's last two 'Day Attack' AV-8Bs
to the Harrier Training Squadron at Cherry Point, N.C. - the original version
of the Harrier II can no longer be found in Marine Expeditionary Forces' "Gun"
squadrons. VMA-513 is now equipped with a mixture of AV-8B Night Attack and AV-8B
Harrier II+ aircraft. To mark the retirement of the original variant, the squadron
put up a unique formation of all three AV-8B models - it was the only unit to
fly all three at the same time. The following three pictures of the formation
have been kindly provided by Lieutenant Colonel David Gurney, commanding officer
of VMA-513. Visit his website, www.hownowcow.com,
for more details.
Picture 2>>> Picture
|08/01 - Taiwan to buy Harrier II+? It has
been revealed that the Taiwanese air force is planning a force of STOVL fighters
capable of remaining operational after heavy attacks on their airbases. The aircraft
would begin to enter service in 2005, with the Harrier II+ the only possible candidate
at the moment. Taiwanese officials have received briefings on the aircraft from
Boeing, with the latter company proposing that a joint manufacturing programme
be set up with Taiwan's AIDC. Under current plans, production of new-build fuselages
for the USMC Harrier II+ upgrade programme (which retains the wings of existing
Harrier IIs) would end in 2004. A joint Boeing-AIDC production line would see
Boeing produced fuselages matched to AIDC built wings, with final assembly possibly
also undertaken by AIDC. Boeing has also proposed that Taiwanese Harrier II+ aircraft
be equipped with APG-66 radars to give commonality with the nation's F-16 fleet.
|07/01 - Boeing completes X-32B tests. On
July 28th, U.S.M.C. Maj. Jeff Karnes broke the sound barrier and demonstrated
the range of performance characteristics typical of the operational JSF: a short
takeoff, transition to conventional flight, supersonic flight and transition back
to STOVL (Short Take Off/Vertical Landing) mode before making a slow landing.
The 78th and final flight of the X-32B flight-test program was flown by U.K. Royal
Navy Lt. Cdr. Paul Stone and included a series of supersonic runs. Picture>>>
|7/01 - Lockheed Martin X-35B makes supersonic
STOVL flight. On July 9, near Edwards Air Force Base, UK test pilot Simon
Hargreaves took off, climbed to 9,000 feet and 180 knots and successfully engaged
the aircraft's shaft-driven lift fan propulsion system . He then accelerated to
an indicated Mach 1.08, the first time a JSF demonstrator has achieved a STOVL
mode conversion and sustained supersonic flight in a single sortie. The flight
followed a number of others in which the aircraft successfully made performed
short take-offs, transitions back from wingborne to jetborne flight and vertical
landings at Edwards Air Force Base. The aircraft had already executed several
successful "slow" landings.
|07/01 - X-32B successfully ends required flight-test
programme. The Boeing X-32B finished its governement required flight-test
programme by making a series of short take-offs at NAS Patuxent River. Test pilot
Dennis O'Donoghue accelerated the X-32B down the runway to a speed of 80 knots,
then pushed a throttle-mounted flow-switch button to redirect engine thrust from
the cruise nozzle to the lift nozzles, preset to a position of 60 degrees aft.
When the aircraft reached 150 knots and 750 feet altitude O'Donoghue redirected
the thrust back through the cruise nozzle to complete the transition to conventional
flight. The X-32B then completed a number of tests before landing. The 58 flights
completed up to this point have covered all areas required by the aircraft's potential
customers. Boeing will now pursue its own flight test goals until the end of July.
|06/01 - X-32B completes vertical landings.
Another milestone in the STOVL JSF test programme was passed on June 27th when
the Boeing contender transitioned from conventional flight to a vertical landing
on a special 'hover pit'. The aircraft was then refuelled and repeated the feat,
after using a conventional take-off to get airborne again. The second landing
came at the end of the aircraft's 51st flight, with over 70% of the test programme
now completed. Picture>>>
06/01 - Boeing X-32B hovers. June 24th saw the first
hover of the Boeing X-32B STOVL JSF at Patuxent River, Maryland. The aircraft
achieved a transition from horizontal to vertical flight at a height of 200 feet,
piloted by former Harrier pilot Dennis O'Donoghue. The aircraft went on to complete
a further four hovers on the same day. The hovers came after having succesfully
demonstrated partially jet-borne slow landings and other STOVL modes of operation
over previous days. The test programme will now proceed to the demonstaration
of short take-offs, extended hovering and vertical landings. Picture>>>
06/01 - Lockheed Martin X-35B achieves vertical take-off.
June 23rd witnessed the first vertical flight of Lockheed Martin's X-35B STOVL
JSF at Palmdale, California. The aircraft utilised its Rolls-Royce made lift fan,
driven by a shaft from the Pratt and Whitney F119-611 main engine. The latter
counterbalanced the forward mounted lift fan with its vectoring rear nozzle, assisted
by lateral contriol ducts using engine bleed-air. Flown by BAE Systems test pilot
Simon Hargreaves, the aircraft rose to a height of around 25 feet during a flight
of 35 seconds duration, supported by almost 40,000 pounds of thrust. The flight
also marked the first practical demonstration of the shaft driven lift fan concept.
The test programme now moves towards the demonstration of full transitions to
and from wing-borne flight, including sustained hovering and STOVL operations.
04/01 - Boeing X-32B completes first transitions. The
first transitions to jet-borne flight by the Boeing X-32B demonstrator took place
on 16th April over Edwards Air Force base. With the aircraft flying at 9,500 feet
and 180 knots the thrust was switched from the rear nozzle to the two lateral
lift nozzles, which were partially deflected, and back again. The whole process
took around six seconds, and neither the aircraft or its Pratt & Whitney F119-614
engine showed any adverse handling effects. A second such flight on the same day
saw the aircraft spend 40 minutes in the partially jet-borne mode, with a further
seven transitions undertaken at altitudes of 6,000-9,500 feet and speeds of 140
to 185 knots to test throttle and nozzle angle variation.
03/01 - Maverick on RAF Harriers. In the wake of a series
of trials in the United States, the AGM-65D2G imaging infra-red version of the
Maverick missile has achieved initial operating capability with the RAF's Harrier
GR.7 force. The need for such a weapon was identified during the 1999 Kosovo camapign
and finally gives RAF Harriers the capability to attack targets from stand-off
range, reducing exposure to enemy defences. The Maverick has been used on USMC
AV-8Bs for fifteen years.
03/01 - Boeing X-32B flies. Boeing's X-32B STOVL Joint
Strike Fighter completed a 50-minute first flight from Palmdale, California on
March 29. The flight was a conventional one to check basic performance and handling.
This is to be followed by a number of flights from Edwards AFB before the aircraft
moves to NAS Patuxent River for the bulk of STOVL tests. Overall, the flight program
is expected to last for 40 hours/55 flights. Initial testing of the STOVL nozzles
and controls are to be attempted at altitude, before moving towards a full vertical
landing on both a grid (to alleviate adverse environmental factors caused by the
engine) and a landing pad.
|01/01 - UK signs JSF MoU. The United Kingdom
signed a Memorandum of Understanding in Washington on 17 January to become a full
partner in the Engineering and Manufacturing Development phase of the JSF programme.
Although only providing around 8% of the funds (£1.3 billion, $1.9 billion),
UK companies are expected to carry out up to 15% of the EMD workload. The potential
UK requirement is for around 150 JSFs (either STOVL or conventional) to replace
RAF Harrier GR.7/GR.9s and Royal Navy Sea Harrier FA.2s from around 2012.
|01/01 - Boeing X-32B completes tests. The
Boeing X-32B STOVL Joint Strike Fighter has completed taxying trials at up to
60 knots. First flight is expected by the end of March. Meanwhile, the Lockheed
Martin X-35B has had its lift fan installed ahead of tests in a ground running
pen by the end of February.