The Harrier is one mean machine. British made and very unique for its ability to do vertical takeoffs and landings via the use of directionally variable nozzles. It is quite a sight to see one takeoff from a standstill and then accelerate to 500 knots. Very radical to have a fighter jet that doesn’t need a runway.
A massive air intake with a large turbofan engine pushes a lot of air through the four rotating nozzles located on the side of the plane which allows it to take off vertically or to do a more efficient rolling jump into the air. Of course it can take off like a normal jet as well.
Also unusual for a fighter is the large center main gear with the little outrigger gear on the wings. When you don’t slam the aircraft onto a ship you don’t need super sturdy landing gear which saves considerable weight. The United States Marines found it a useful jet although it is being phased out of active military service these days.
Harriers saw a lot of action during the Falklands War and were launched off ships much smaller than a United States aircraft carrier using a ramp reminiscent of a ski jump. I am not sure what the net is for unless it’s to catch parts that might fall off during launch. You can clearly see the forward nozzle deflected at an angle.
Picture uploaded from www.defenseindustrydaily.com
The fighter industry is changing a great deal. All my favorite fighters like the F14, F15, and F16 are becoming more obsolete and the future is with all the stealthy F22 types. They just don’t look as sleek to me, but one cannot argue with their capability. Having been to a few airshows and seen the demonstrations of all these aircraft, it is quite eye opening to see what an F22 can do just aerodynamically. It turns on a dime without imposing the heavy g-loads that previous aircraft require. And why? Because the f22 uses vectored thrust just like the aging Harrier, which just goes to prove there isn’t anything new under the sun, there’s just modifications.
Here is a shot from Sun ‘n Fun in Florida of an F22 Turnin’ and Burnin’ with afterburners lit.
The aircraft is so different from past fighters because of the stealth technology. It’s growing on me though, simply because it is one serious machine. I am pretty sure the folks that loved the P51 hated to see it replaced by the modern jet fighters; that is, until they strapped one on, then it was all over. Here is a nice generational shot featuring the F22 with a pair of WWII fighters, the P51 and the twin engine P38.
What remains to be seen is what will happen to fighter pilots in the future. Will they be flying jets or sitting in trailers “flying” drones launched on the other side of the world? Since there doesn’t seem to be an imminent threat of peace breaking out worldwide we can assume there will always be a need for fighter pilots and incredible machines for them to fly.