BAE Systems 'Response' newspaper recently published news of interest to those who were associated with the Harrier. It is summarised here.
ZG501, the first of six Warton converted GRMk9 aircraft from the Harrier modification programme (HMP3) was returned to the RAF for evaluation, two months early, in November 2004. Subsequent conversions will be at RAF Cottesmore by a joint BAES-RAF team. The first GRMk7 to be upgraded to GRMk9 at RAF Cottesmore started its Joint Upgrade & Maintenance Programme (JUMP - I kid you not. Ed.) on 18 November.
The Company's initial GRMk9 capability release took place on 19 November. DACPA A (Design Authority Clearance for Production Aircraft, A) is the first of five software and hardware standards which will bring the RAF Harrier fleet to full GRMk9 specification.
The 'Capability A' GRMk9 incorporates the following new features: a new main computer using open system technology and associated software to allow for new systems and smart weapon integration; a MIL STD 1760 data bus stores management system for smart weapons such as the Brimstone anti-tank rocket, and precision guided bombs; improved integration of current weapons such as Maverick; a new inertial navigation/global positioning system; a ground proximity warning system; upgraded displays; and a secure communications radio.
Service Release is expected in April 2005. 'Capabilities' B - E will be incorporated over the next couple of years.
Meanwhile No.3 Squadron's uprated Pegasus Mk107 powered GRMk7A Harriers have been deployed to Afghanistan for nine months (from last October) under Wg Cdr Bruce Headley. The improved performance is expected to be a valuable asset in this demanding theatre of operations.
The total investment in the Harrier fleet update is