Bring back the Harrier Fighter Jet
Britain must be equipped to confront the situation in the Middle East.
The British-designed P1127 – the prototype Harrier fighter – first flew on October 21 1960, a date shared with Lord Nelson’s success at Trafalgar in 1805.
The situation developing in Ukraine and the Middle East may require, once again, everything this country can provide, including both new aircraft carriers. Britain’s “next generation” fighter, the
F-35, is not ready, not serviceable, not battle-proven and is so expensive that only small numbers are ordered.
Financial prudence was argued in the decision to withdraw the Harrier. However, it is still held in such high regard by other operators – including the USA, who purchased all our Harriers when they were decommissioned – that they will remain in service for many years yet. Britain’s financial circumstances and the world’s security situation have both changed since this decision was made.
We need our carriers soon and fully equipped with battle-proven aircraft to give them fighting capability. Harriers of existing specification should be manufactured urgently and in significant numbers. The unit cost would be a fraction of that of the F-35 and they would be in service much earlier. When the F-35 proves itself, it could then be introduced, but aircraft carriers without aircraft are a liability, not an asset.
In the hours before battle, Lord Nelson signalled his fleet: “England expects that every man will do his duty.” Part of that duty, surely, is to be ready. We are not.
Source: SIR – By Mark Harrison / Guernsey, Channel Islands – October 21, 2014 (telegraph.co.uk)