Defense Media Network

The Harrier Jump Jet: 45 Years | Photos

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Forty-five years ago, in 1966, the Royal Air Force ordered its first Hawker Siddeley Harrier, the GR 1, and few who were living at the time would have imagined the short takeoff/vertical landing (STOVL) Harrier would still be serving more than four decades later. The U.S. Marine Corps, always innovative, lobbied strongly for the Harrier as perfectly suiting its needs, and the result was the AV-8A, followed in the 1980s by the Harrier II, produced by a partnership between McDonnell Douglas (later to become part of Boeing) and British Aerospace (now BAE Systems). Along with the Royal Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps, the first-generation Harrier flew for the Spanish navy, Royal Thai navy, Indian navy, and most famously for the Royal Navy, which used their specially adapted, but few, Sea Harriers to win against a vastly superior Argentinean force in the Falklands conflict. Today the second-generation Harrier serves the Royal Air Force, U.S. Marines, and Italian and Spanish navies as they await arrival of the next “jump jet” – the F-35B.