Guest article by Alex Williams
(Image: Chris Pasley, reproduced with permission)
As prime minister David Cameron reportedly considers military intervention in Syria, Britain’s dismantled Harrier GR9 force bakes beneath the sun of the Arizona desert. The famous “jump jets”, 72 in total, were controversially sold to the US Marine Corps in November 2011 for just 180 million USD – the projected cost of one F-35 Lightning II, which won’t replace the Harrier until around 2020.
As a result, the UK currently has no fixed-wing aircraft on its one operational carrier, although the government did consider resurrecting the Harrier force, which had undergone a £600 million upgrade over the past decade, during the Libya conflict. It’s believed several of the stored airframes will be returned to service as attrition spares with the USMC, while the remaining hulks will be cannibalised for parts in the famous “Boneyard” at Davis-Monthan AFB.
(Images: Douglas Fernandes, reproduced with permission)
The Harrier first cut its combat teeth during the Falklands War, proving a deadly opponent to Argentine forces both in the air-to-air and air-to-ground roles. Urban Ghosts previously published photos of a wrecked Harrier GR3 that was shot down on May 27, 1982 during an attack on Goose Green. The aircraft, serial number XZ988 (above), crashed on the nearby Lafonia peninsula of East Falkland. Pilot Bob Iveson ejected to safety.