Tag Archives: F-5E

Sea Harrier, the forgotten hero that won the war in the Falklands. To be replaced by the F-35B.

Known by its pilots as “SHAR,”30 years ago the Bae Sea Harrier embarked on its first combat mission.

Ir was April 5, 1982 when two UK’s “through-deck cruisers” (aircraft carriers) leave Portsmouth for their involvement in the Falklands conflict. On board were 20 BAe Sea Harriers, only in service since 2 years.

The British “Jump Jets” were heading to their baptism of fire, vastly outnumbered by proven supersonic weapons systems such as the Mirage III and the Mirage V Dagger, and no one really knew how it would perform against a real world shooting opponent; the Royal Navy’s Harriers had been up against F-5Es, F-4s and F-15s in Dissimilar Air Combat Training and more than held its own.

But real combat was a different matter.

The Sea Harrier was a modified Harrier featuring a slightly different cockpit layout and the Blue Fox multimode radar, something other versions of the Harrier did not possess.

The SHAR was a truly multi role aircraft that it could perform air-to-air combat and ground attack and reconnaissance.

First air-to-air engagement took place on the morning of May1, 1982, when a pair of Sea Harriers on CAP (Combat Air Patrol) near Port Stanley, were vectored onto three slow moving aircraft that had departed the local airfield. The three aircraft turned out to be T-34s that were made aware of the Harriers’ presence and hid in low cloud.

One of the SHAR managed to fire some 30mm cannon rounds in the general direction of the turboprops but the first contact ended with a no-score draw .

It didn’t take long for full on dogfighting to take place against the Mirage III.

It was on the afternoon of May 1st. HMS Glamorgan vectored a pair of SHAR towards three targets approaching at supersonic speed. As the SHAR turned towards the threat, the three targets turned away and used their superior speed advantage to escape. The SHAR returned to their CAP station until a few moments later the Glamorgan controller announced that the targets had returned and were descending in bound at some 25 miles away.

The SHAR immediately turned towards the targets, and decided to perform the hook manoeuvre: the lead aircraft flew head-on to the target and the wingman split to swing around to attack the targets from the rear.

The lead plane was unable to get a lock onto the fast approaching Mirage aircraft but the Hook maneuver worked perfectly as the Mirage pilots didn’t spot the wingman turning onto their tails until it was too late.

The wingman got his tone and released the AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missile, that hit the Mirage for the first Sea Harrier’s confirmed kill.

RAF Harriers and RN Sea Harriers. Image credit: Fleet Air Arm Museum Facebook page

The Navy’s SHARs went on to score 20 kills (none of which was achieved using the famous trick of stopping the plane midair by pointing the jet nozzles slightly forward inducing a 2g deceleration) to no loss in air-to-air combat. However, two were lost to ground fire (radar guided 30mm AA and a Roland missile) and a further two were lost to accidents during the conflict.

The kill-to-loss ratio does not reflect the skill and braveness of the Argentinean pilots who had to face a truly astonishing fighter, which had remarkable slow flight characteristics, even without the thrust vectoring, and a superior radar.

The Sea Harrier went on to see action in both Gulf Wars and in the Balkans conflict, which saw a Sea Harrier shot down by a SAM whilst attacking two tanks (the pilot ejected and managed to evade capture before returning to ship).

The original Sea Harrier FRS1 was superseded in 1993 by the mark II version, dubbed Sea Harrier FA2. The radar was upgraded to a pulse Doppler radar which gave the SHAR the ability to fire the AIM-120 AMRAAM and give it BVR (Beyond Visual Range) capability for the first time, was described at the time as the most advanced system in the world and made its way, in an updated/modified version, into the Eurofighter Typhoon.

The Sea Harrier was retired in 2006 few years earlier than the RAF GR9s, cut ahead of scheduled as a consequence of the British Defense spending rewiew.

Both will be eventually replaced by the F-35B: the UK has recently decided into going back with the STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) version and reverse the earlier decision to reverse order from the F-35B the F-35C CV (Carrier Variant).

Richard Clements TheAviationist.com


Once in a while a genuine video from Iran: Iranian Air Force F-5 nose-gear-up landing

In the last few weeks, beginning with the saga of the captured US stealthy RQ-170 drone and ending with the crisis in the Strait of Hormuz, with the alleged video of the U.S. aircraft carrier Stennis taken from an Iranian Fokker 27, I’ve often discussed about the authenticity of the footage released by the Iranian State TV or news agency, with the readers of this blog.

In the past, the Iranian propaganda machine has used doctored videos and fake images to spread its messages and this is the reason why many are doubtful each time new images showing Iran’s military achievement surface.

However, the one I’m posting below was just uploaded on Youtube (date is Jan. 1, 2012) and looks like it is authentic.

It shows an Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF) F-5E performing a nose-gear-up landing at Dezful airbase also known as Vahdati Air Base, in southwest Iran.

The aircraft comes to a stop thatnks to the dragchute and, later, we see the pilot unhurt near its plane.

Actually, we can’t be sure whether the nose gear failed to come down or it collapsed after landing: the fact that someone was filming it (from a dangerous position) suggests the emergency was known before the aircraft landed, still, ground personnel seems to be unprepared to the management of the emergency, with people and cars initially rushing towards the plane and then coming back.

Dealing with the news, on Jan. 2, the IRNA news agency has published another picture, this time depicting the coast-to-sea long-range missile, named the Qader (Capable), with a range of 200 km and capable to target destroyers and battleships.

Delivered to the Navy in September 2011, the Qader is believed to be the most powerful missile of the Iranian Navy.

A short-range Nasr (Victory) cruise missile with the capability to destroy large vessels, and a surface-to-surface Nour (Light) “ultra-advanced surface-to-surface missile” were fired by the Iranian naval forces in the last phase of the Exercise Velayat-90, as well as a surface-to-air medium-range smart missile, named the Mehrab (Altar), equipped with anti-radar and anti-jamming systems.

To be honest, mainstream media have all broadcast the same image, with different captions, so my guess is that the one in this picture is the Qader, even if it might be a Nour (as affirmed by the IRNA website…wasn’t the Nour a surface-to-surface missile?).

International Fighter 2008

On Nov. 5 and 6, the Istituto di Scienze Militari Aeronautiche (ISMA), Italian Air Force Institute of Military Aeronautical Sciences in Florence, as part of the celebrations for the 70th anniversary of the institute, will host the International Fighter 2008 conference. This event is the only one in Europe dedicated to the analysis of air defence and strike fighter developments around the world and it is specifically tailored for both the Military and Industry representatives. The main themes deals with the Next Generation Fighter Capabilities and Upgrades (how the various nations are equipping aircraft currently in serive to face the new generation threats, how they are going to upgrade aircraft equipments and airframes to enhance air-to-air and strike capabilities, how the 5th generation systems are going to redefine the concept of multi-role aircraft) and the fighter requirements. In particular, this year’s edition of the conference include:

  • Canadian Forces’ Next Generation Fighter Capability
  • Royal Danish Air Force programme and requirements for replacing the in-service F-16 aircraft
  • Romanian Air Force replacement plans for the MiG-21
  • Swiss Armed Force’s New Fighter Aircraft programme designed to replace the F-5E Tiger fleet

Exclusive updates on the following programmes will be provided:

  • Swedish Air Force’s Gripen NG
  • US Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet
  • Polish Air Force’s F-16 Fighting Falcon
  • MiG-35 Fighter
  • F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter
  • Romania’s MiG-21
  • Italian Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoon
  • Royal Air Force’s Eurofighter Typhoon

Other discussed topics are the challenges faced by the USAF bringing the 5th Generation F-22A Raptor into service with the Langley-based 1st Fighter Wing and how the Royal Netherlands Air Force (RNlAF) F-16s have been employed as the Air Task Force of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Kandahar, Afghanistan.

For more information, you can visit the following website http://www.site-members.com/EventWebsites/11610.002/index.html
or http://www.aeronautica.difesa.it/SitoAM/Default.asp?idsez=3314&idente=458