British Army - Army Aviation - Joint Force Harrier JHC - army7a3.3 - Armed Forces



The Joint Force Harrier (JFH) was established on 1 April 2000 and brought together the Sea Harrier FA.2 Squadrons, previously under Naval Air Command, with the RAF's Harrier GR 7/7A/GR 9 Squadrons in a new command within RAF Strike Command (now No 1 Group). However, less than two years later, it was announced that the Sea Harrier FA.2 was to be retired early from the JFH under a development that will see the JFH standardise on the RAF’s Harrier GR 9/9A.

Announcing the move in 2002, UK MoD officials said the type rationalisation was in preparation for the introduction of the Future Joint Combat Aircraft and the Future Aircraft Carrier in 2014 onward.

The MoD explained that the optimum development of the JFH is to support only one Harrier type to its end of service life, the 'more capable GR 9'. The Sea Harrier FA.2 was therefore withdrawn from service between 2004 and March 2006.

The JFH received its first upgraded Harrier GR 9 from BAE Systems' Warton facility in November 2005. Under the terms of a £500 million programme the avionics of some 60 x Harrier GR 7/7A will be upgraded to GR 9 standard and 11 x Harrier T 10 will be upgraded to T 12 standard.

As of mid 2009 the JFH consists of 4 x Squadrons as follows:

800 Naval Air Squadron 9 x Harrier GR 7/7A RAF Cottesmore
801 Naval Air Squadron 9 x Harrier GR 7/7A RAF Cottesmore
1 Squadron RAF 9 x Harrier GR 9/9A RAF Cottesmore
4 Squadron RAF 9 x Harrier GR 9/9A RAF Cottesmore

All four squadrons should have 12 pilots and eventually all will operate the Harrier GR 9/9A and T 12. The 2 x Fleet Air Arm Squadrons are known collectively as the ‘Naval Strike Wing’.

The planned out-of-service date for the Harrier aircraft is 2018.

Aircraft from the JFH have been deployed in Afghanistan and have what is believed to be the lowest abort rate in the world for a combat aircraft. MoD figures suggest that the Harrier is currently operating at a 0.34% ground abort rate. Therefore, only about four in every 1,000 times that a Harrier is called for a mission in Afghanistan it cannot take off because of some technical problem. By comparison, most combat aircraft are believed to operate at a ground abort rate of around 10%.