The Sea Harrier revolutionised carrier based aviation allowing shorter take off and landings. It needed fewer handling crew than its predecessors as it didnâ€™t need to be 'loaded' on to a catapult. With conventional planes if the pilot missed the arrester wires he would be required to go round again meaning he must always ensure he has adequate fuel supplies. The Sea Harrier lands first time every time; simply hovering alongside until space or conditions allow landing. The use of Harrier with the aircraft carrier ski jump improved the amount of weight planes could take off with and made it easier to take off during rough weather thus improving safety.
The Korean War
The Malayan Emergency
Aircraft Carrier development
The Sea Harrier
The first vertical take off and landing of an aircraft was the P1127 Hawker Siddeley onboard HMS Ark Royal in February 1963. The Royal Navy received its first Sea Harrier in June 1979. The first operational Sea Harrier unit was formed in April 1980.
The Sea Harriers had originally been underrated but they had found true recognition during their excellent service in the Falklands War. They had been seen by some as a vanity exercise to prove that Britain still played a viable role in aircraft design. The rise of supersonic fighters had lead many to undervalue the Harrier as close combat jet. Its detractors also were not convinced of its durability or carrying strength. Six weeks in 1982 were to prove the capabilities of Sea Harriers beyond all doubt.