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Harrier GR.9/9A & T. Mk.12

The Royal Air Force's Harrier GR.9/9A programme has two main features. The first is the Harrier Integrated Weapons Programme (IWP), devised to bring together a number of discrete weapon-system enhancement projects. The second is the Pegasus Mk.107 engine.

Integrated Weapons Programme

The IWP forms the basis of the GR.9/9A and T. Mk.12 aircraft. The programme builds upon the current capabilities of the GR.7 and T Mk.10 through the integration of Storm Shadow and Brimstone weapons. The planned integration of ASRAAM has been abandoned. Although the introduction of these smart weapons is the backbone of the IWP, the Harrier GR.7 aircraft requires various system upgrades before it can operate them effectively. Principally, a state-of-the-art MIL-STD-1760 Stores Management System (SMS) is required which, combined with the new High Order Language (Ada) Operational Flight Programme (OFP) software and a new Open System Mission Computer (OSMC), will permit the aircraft to interact with the weapons. The smart weapons also necessitate the introduction of a new Inertial Navigation System/GPS (INGPS), which is capable of providing the weapons with navigation data via the 1760 SMS. Improvements to the aircraft display system will also be required to cope with the additional symbology requirements. On safety grounds, the Programme also covers the introduction of a Ground Proximity Warning System (GPWS). Furthermore, the IWP covers two studies looking to expand the flight envelope of the aircraft. The first study, BRCP 779, explores the forward centre of gravity (CG) limits of the aircraft in an attempt to reduce the existing CG management workload on the pilot. The second study, BRCP 821, aims to increase the all-up mass of the aircraft to 34,000lb, and perhaps beyond, to cover heavyweight roles such as Storm Shadow. This work is being contracted for, with BAE SYSTEMS as the prime contractor, in 2 or more phases. The contract for the first of these phases, known as IWP1, was awarded on 2 December 1999. A second contract, known as Capability C2, worth about £100 million was awarded in January 2004.

Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk.107 Engine

Following a bid by Rolls-Royce in October 1999 to provide 40 Mk.107 engines, including a total support package, the decision was made to proceed with the proposal with a the target date of 31 December 1999 for contract award. The decision was made early on to separate the engine acquisition and support packages so that various maintenance options could be examined and costed. To achieve this tight timescale, Rolls-Royce and BAE Systems personnel have worked alongside the Harrier IPTís Mk.107 Team, with Finance and Contracts support. On 13 December 1999 a Procurement Strategy for the acquisition of 40 Mk.107 engines was approved. The contract was signed shortly thereafter. To allow the Mk.107 to be fitted to the Harrier GR.7, a number of airframe and systems modifications are required and it is planned to carry out these and then install the Mk.107 during the Harrier GR.9/9A Programme. A GR.7 Harrier that has been modified during IWP and that has the Mk.107 Pegasus fitted will be designated as the Harrier GR.9A. Combined BAE Systems and Defence Evaluation & Research Agency (DERA) flight trials of the Pegasus Mk.107 commenced in 2001.

All remaining GR.7 aircraft are planned to receive the IWP and be redesignated GR.9. Of these, 30 GR.9A aircraft will receive the Pegasus Mk.107. Twenty aircraft to be fitted with the Pegasus Mk.107 will be known as the GR.7A while awaiting the IWP modifications. These aircraft are being updated by DARA at St.Athan in South Wales. First deliveries took place in late 2003.

With the phase-out of the Sea Harrier F/A.2 in 2004-06, Joint Force Harrier will be solely equipped with Harrier GR.9/9A aircraft. Two squadrons will be flown by RAF aircrew, with two flown by RN pilots. There will also be a training squadron, equipped with T.Mk.12 two-seaters. These will have the IWP upgrades but not the higher power engine.

GR.9 first flight
GR.9 and Red Arrows
The first Harrier GR.9 flew at Warton on 30 May 2003. See News for more.
The prototype GR.9 Harrier above its Warton home in company with the Red Arrows, who were at Blackpool's nearby Squires Gate airport (former Hawker site) for a few days in early June 2003 for a display at the Isle of Man TT motorcycle races.

In April 2002 BAE Systems received an interim contract for the development of the full GR.9/9A aircraft. A further £150 million contract was signed in January 2003 for non-recurring work, mainly software development and flight test. The first aircraft flew in May 2003, with an inital batch of aircraft to be completed by the end of 2003. Operational release is expected in 2006. The full modifiction programme is known as HMP (Harrier Modification Programme) 3, with the eventual value expected to be £500 million, including support costs. Under Capability C2 a number of systems will be integrated onto the GR.9, linked by a new on-board computer. These include the Precision Guided Bomb (a contract for this was awarded to Raytheon in December 2003) and infra red & television variants of the Maverick missile. Also included is the Successor Identification Friend or Foe (SIFF) system, which will make the aircraft less vulnerable in an operational environment.

HMP3 is yet to be fully defined but aircraft are expected to feature new build, composite rear fusealges to cope with fatigue cracking caused the Pegasus engine's exhaust. The update programme is being managed through the Future Integrated Support Team (FIST), a joint industry/MoD initiative, with engineering design undertaken at Farnborough and development and flight test based at Warton. The final selection of who carries out the update work has yet to be made, but BAE Systems will be Prime Contractor with overall management responsibility. It is understood that the US Marine Corps is interested in the composite rear fuselage proposal to overcome fatigue life issues in their AV-8B fleet.

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