With the future advent of the new JSF F-35B into service and the scaling back of the UK defense budget, the BAE/ McDonnell Douglas Harrier and Sea Harrier is becoming a less common sight these days and indeed it was a real surprise to see one again on my recent trip to the UK in the form of a Spanish Navy EAV-8B Matador II Plus version.
I had no idea that the Harrier was on the schedule for the 2014 Farnborough airshow, so it was a really pleasant surprise to see two of the aircraft in attendance and one on the flying display schedule.
Fortunately the skies, which had been ominous and cloudy, cleared to bright sunlight by the time the Harrier was airborne and it put on a fantastic display. This included all the usual Harrier party tricks including flying backwards and “bowing” to the crowd. There were many flypasts and the aero display was amongst the best Harrier routines I had ever seen.
The Harrier is an old design concept now, but it is a very proven one, having served operationally around the world in most conflicts in the past 45 years. In terms of its unique performance parameters there is no equivalent design.
The Harrier is due to soldier on in Spain, Italy and the USA until 2030, when the JSF F35-B Naval VTOL version should be in service. Given the chequered development of that aircraft the Harrier could still be around after that.
In any case, the chance to see one of these fantastic aircraft display again was a very pleasant highlight of my 2014 Farnborough airshow visit.
© John Parker 2014