Hawker Siddeley Harrier (Jump Jet)

Harrier Jump Jet
A Harrier GR7A of 800 Naval Air Sqn, Royal Navy
RoleV/STOL strike aircraft
ManufacturerHawker Siddeley
McDonnell Douglas/British Aerospace
Boeing/BAE Systems
Primary usersUnited States Marine Corps
Royal Air Force
Royal Navy
Spanish Navy
Developed fromHawker P.1127/Kestrel FGA.1
VariantsHawker Siddeley Harrier
BAE Sea Harrier
AV-8B Harrier II
BAE Harrier II

The Harrier Jump Jet, often referred to as just "Harrier" or "the Jump Jet", is a British designed military jet aircraft capable of Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing (V/STOL) via thrust vectoring. The Harrier family is the only truly successful design of this type from the many that arose in the 1960s.

There are four main versions of the Harrier family: Hawker Siddeley Harrier, British Aerospace Sea Harrier, Boeing/BAE Systems AV-8B Harrier II, and BAE Systems/Boeing Harrier II. The Hawker Siddeley Harrier is the first generation version and is also known as the AV-8A Harrier. The Sea Harrier is a Maritime strike/air defence fighter. The AV-8B is the second generation Harrier and the BAE Harrier II is the British variant.



Following an approach by the Bristol Engine Company in 1957 that they were planning a directed thrust engine, Hawker Aircraft came up with a design for an aeroplane that could meet the NATO specification for a "Light Tactical Support Fighter". There was no financial support for the development from HM Treasury, but aid was found through the Mutual Weapon Development Project (MWDP) of NATO.

The P.1127 was ordered as a prototype and flew in 1960. NATO developed a specification (NBMR-3) for a VTOL aircraft, but one that was expected to have the performance of an aircraft like the F-4 Phantom. Hawker drafted a supersonic version of the P.1127, the P.1150, and also the Hawker P.1154 which would meet NBMR-3. The latter was a winner of the NATO competition and development continued until cancelled at the point of prototype construction in 1965.

Work on the P.1127 continued with 9 evaluation aircraft, the Hawker Siddeley Kestrel, ordered. These started flying in 1964 and were assessed by the "Tri-partite Evaluation Squadron" which consisted of British, US and German pilots. With the cancellation of the P.1154, the RAF ordered a modified P.1127/Kestrel as the Harrier GR.1 in 1966.

Harrier development summary

The Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1/GR.3 and the AV-8A Harrier were the first generation of the Harrier series, the first operational close-support and reconnaissance attack aircraft with Vertical/Short Takeoff and Landing (V/STOL) capabilities. These were developed directly from the Hawker P.1127 prototype and the Kestrel evaluation aircraft.

The Harrier was extensively redeveloped by McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace, leading to the AV-8B Harrier II and Harrier GR5/GR7/GR9, respectively. Both were built by companies that are now parts of Boeing and BAE Systems.

The British Aerospace Sea Harrier is a naval V/STOL jet fighter, reconnaissance and attack aircraft, a development of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier. The first version entered service with the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm in April 1980 as the Sea Harrier FRS.1, and was informally known as the Shar. The upgraded Sea Harrier FA2 entered service in 1993. It was withdrawn from Royal Navy service in March 2006. The Sea Harrier FRS Mk.51 is in active service with the Indian Navy, which operates the jet from its aircraft carrier INS Viraat.

The Boeing/BAE Systems AV-8B Harrier II is a family of second-generation V/STOL jet multi-role aircraft of the late 20th century. Developed from the earlier Hawker Siddeley Harrier, it is primarily used for light attack or multi-role tasks, typically operated from small aircraft carriers. Versions are used by several NATO countries, including Spain, Italy, and the United States. The BAE Systems/Boeing Harrier II is a modified version of the AV-8B Harrier II. The Harrier II is used by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and, since 2006, the Royal Navy. Both are primarily used for light attack or multi-role tasks, and are often operated from small aircraft carriers.


Pre-Harrier prototype and evaluation aircraft

The Hawker P.1127, predecessor of the Harrier An RAF Harrier GR3 on display at Bletchley Park, England

Main article: Hawker P.1127

  • Hawker P.1127 (1960)
  • Hawker Siddeley Kestrel FGA.1 (1964)

RAF Harriers

Main article: Hawker Siddeley Harrier

  • Single-seater combat aircraft
    • Harrier GR.1 (1966)
    • Harrier GR.1/1A (1969)
    • Harrier GR.3/3A
  • Two-seater training aircraft
    • Harrier T.2/2A (1970)
    • Harrier T.4/4A
    • Harrier T.4N
    • Harrier T.8 (1994)
    • Harrier Mk.52 (two-seat company demonstrator)
    • Harrier T.Mk 60

AV-8A Harrier (US, Spain, Thailand)

Main article: Hawker Siddeley Harrier

  • AV-8A Harrier/Harrier Mk.50 (USMC version, 1970)
  • TAV-8A Harrier/Harrier Mk.54
  • AV-8C Harrier
  • AV-8S Matador/Harrier Mk.53 (for Spain, later Thailand)
  • AV-8S Matador/Harrier Mk.55 (second batch of AV-8S for Spain, later Thailand)
  • TAV-8S Matador/Harrier T.54 (for Spain, later Thailand)

British Aerospace Sea Harrier

Sea Harriers FA.2 on the deck of HMS Illustrious in the Persian Gulf US Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier

Main article: BAE Sea Harrier

  • Sea Harrier FRS.1 (1979)
  • Sea Harrier FA2 (1988)
  • Sea Harrier FRS.51 (1983)

McDonnell Douglas-BAe/Boeing AV-8B Harrier II

Main article: AV-8B Harrier II

  • AV-8B Harrier II (1983)
  • EAV-8B Matador II (for Spain)
  • AV-8B Harrier II Night Attack (1987)
  • AV-8B Harrier II Plus (1992) (USMC, Spain, Italy)

BAe-McDonnell Douglas/BAE Systems Harrier II

Main article: BAE Harrier II

  • Harrier GR5/5A (1985)
  • Harrier GR7/7A (1992)
  • Harrier GR9/9A (2002)
  • Harrier T10
  • Harrier T12


Hawker Siddeley Harrier Specifications
 Kestrel FGA.1Harrier GR3/AV-8ASea Harrier FA2Harrier GR9AV-8B+ Harrier
CrewOne (Two for trainer versions)
Length42 ft 6 in (13.0 m)47 ft 2 in (14.4 m)46 ft 6 in (14.2 m)46 ft 4 in (14.1 m)47 ft 8 in (14.5 m)
Wingspan22 ft 11 in (6.99 m)25 ft 3 in (7.70 m)25 ft 3 in (7.70 m)30 ft 4 in (9.25 m)30 ft 4 in (9.25 m)
Height10 ft 9 in (3.28 m)11 ft 4 in (3.45 m)12 ft 4 in (3.76 m)11 ft 8 in (3.56 m)11 ft 8 in (3.56 m)
Empty Weight10,000 lb (4,540 kg)12,200 lb (5,530 kg)14,052 lb (6,370 kg)12,500 lb (5,670 kg)?13,968 lb (6,340 kg)
Maximum take-off weight
(short takeoff)
17,000 lb (7,710 kg)26,000 lb (11,800 kg)26,200 lb (11,900 kg)31,000 lb (14,100 kg)31,000 lb (14,100 kg)
Max speed545 mph (877 km/h)731 mph (1,180 km/h)735 mph (1,180 km/h)662 mph (1,070 km/h)662 mph (1,070 km/h)
Combat radius 200 nmi (370 km) 300 nmi (556 km)300 nmi (556 km)
EnginePegasus 6Pegasus 11 Mk 101Pegasus 11 Mk 106Pegasus 11 Mk 107Pegasus 11 Mk 105
Thrust15,000 lbf (66.7 kN)21,800 lbf (97.0 kN)21,800 lbf (97.0 kN)24,750 lbf (110 kN)23,500 lbf (105 kN)
RadarNoneNoneBlue VixenNoneAN/APG-65