UK's VTOL Harrier Jets upgraded
October 11, 2006 An upgraded version of the iconic Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VTOL) Harrier GR9 aircraft has entered service with the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy and Royal Air Force after a GBP500 million improvement package. The GR9 programme provides updated digital systems and enhanced operational capability that will allow the RAF to hit a wider range of targets harder, at longer range, with greater precision and with less risk to aircrew. A number of new systems have been or will be integrated onto the GR9, linked by a new on-board computer. These include the Precision Guided Bomb 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. The GR9 will also carry the Brimstone missile which will enable it to attack up to 12 ground targets simultaneously compared with just two with the GR7.
Sixty nine of the single-seater aircraft will be delivered under the incremental programme which is being carried out by BAE Systems in partnership with the MOD at RAF Cottesmore in Lincs. The upgrades will allow the aircraft to use advanced new precision weaponry, new communications and avionics systems.
On cost and to time the success of the programme has been intrinsically linked to the highly effective working partnership between the MOD, BAES and QinetiQ. The joint working between industry and the MOD reflects the government's overarching Defence Industrial Strategy and underlines the skills inherent in the UK air sector.