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Entire Mothballed RAF Harrier Fleet to be Sold to USMC

It has been confirmed that all 74 of the recently retired RAF Harriers are to be sold to the USMC, once contract negotiations are completed.


Four of the RAF's Harrier GR9s fly in formation on December 13, 2011, all wearing special colour schemes to mark the official retirement of the type from service, which occurred two days later. The entire fleet of 74 aircraft is now scheduled to be sold to the US Marine Corps, once contract negotiations are completed. MOD/Crown Copyright-RAF Cottesmore

A CONTRACT for the sale of all 74 of the recently retired Royal Air Force Harriers to the US Marine Corps is currently being negotiated and could be signed within the next few weeks, subject to a final agreement on price. Although the UK Ministry of Defence has previously declined to comment, rumours of the proposal had been circulating for some months. A report on November 13 in the US Navy’s online edition of Navy Times confirmed the deal is now being finalised.
Earlier, Rear Admiral Mark F Heinrich, Commander, Naval Supply Systems Command and Chief of Supply Corps, had provided further details of the planned purchase at the Bank of America Merrill Lynch Defense Outlook Forum conference in New York on November 10.
Heirich said that the sale involves a two-part deal with the UK MOD’s Disposal Services Agency, one to purchase the aircraft and engines and the other to buy the entire Harrier spares inventory. He himself is negotiating the $50 million spares package contract, while Rear Admiral Donald Gaddis, Program Executive Officer Tactical Aircraft, is in charge of discussions for the aircraft and engine purchase.
Following their retirement in December last year, the fleet has been stored in the hangars at their former main base at RAF Cottesmore, Rutland. They have been undergoing minimum fleet maintenance, including anti-deterioration measures, to keep them in an airworthy condition in order to make them more saleable.
Heinrich noted that the acqusition will give the USMC a relatively economical way of acquiring spares to keep the USMC’s own AV-8B fleet operational until their planned phase-out by 2025. It is also expected that some of the ex-RAF Harriers will initially be used to replace the Marine Corps’ now ageing F/A-18D Hornets.

Filed Under Military Aviation News.


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Peter Bezemer said on the 14-Nov-2011 at 09:19

so the RAF has money to buy some more Typhoons...

michael said on the 14-Nov-2011 at 11:51

Thank goodness that they have been sold,perhaps that will put bed the futile calls for them to be brought back into service.
Although I suspect we will still have people harping on about the issue for while to come.
At least the US will make use of them instead of them rotting at Cottesmore.

Peter Bos said on the 14-Nov-2011 at 11:57

All flown by RAF and RN exchange pilots perhaps?

Grimweasel said on the 14-Nov-2011 at 12:18

I bet the RAF will not see the proceeds of the sale. No doubt the Treasury will swallow up the funds so they can be re-allocated to work shy freeloaders on the Social!

Jason Watkins said on the 14-Nov-2011 at 13:33

For what, parts? USMC AV-8's are a bit different than the RAF GR.7/9's.

Peter Bos said on the 14-Nov-2011 at 14:09

@Jason Watkins:
The price per item that have been circulating were shockingly low. Suspect the RAF (MoD) rather got them of their hands than to pay for storage and bare minimum maintenance.

For low enough prices the USMC is probably getting the smarter deal here. A couple of flaps and actuators will probably get them beyond the break even point. Parts from the RR engine alone will do that.

Jason Watkins said on the 14-Nov-2011 at 14:36

Right. The engines alone were probably the sweetest part of the deal.

Lionel M said on the 14-Nov-2011 at 15:18

The USMC is likely to get a good deal, but the whole affair is rather sad...

dan thompson said on the 14-Nov-2011 at 17:24

Can't one be spared for a museum some where?! :(

Jason Watkins said on the 14-Nov-2011 at 17:41

I am not a big fan of the Harrier, but felt bad for the RAF on 12/2010. When I thought of RAF, the Harrier always came to mind and it is the second-loudest aircraft I have ever heard. No. 1 being the T-37.

Mike H said on the 14-Nov-2011 at 18:03

Any thoughts about how they will get them over to the US?

Nick said on the 15-Nov-2011 at 06:52

What the world has come to...USMC buying used aircraft, the RAF shrinking to a point where all they can do is defencive patrols...Are we witnessing a shift in global power? How long till a Chinese aircraft carrier has a common presence in the Atlantic?

But seriously...a Whistling Shitcan to replace a Hornet? Whos great idea is that?

Jason Watkins said on the 15-Nov-2011 at 15:09

I suspect a ship will be used to move the Harriers across the pond. The surplus Harriers are probably not a priority for continued operation of the USMC Harrier fleet. I also wouldn't put it past the US Govt. to wast the money in flying all 74 airframes over.

A shift in global power due to a failing global economic climate. The U.S. and Europe are at the end of their economic ropes. Like many American families, the U.S. Govt is living outside of it's means.

chris mastin said on the 16-Nov-2011 at 16:13

knowing our goverment, we will offer them the
ark royal for free,

mike yates said on the 16-Nov-2011 at 22:51

The Americans recognise the potency of this aircraft and its usefullness. It actually gets them out of the problems caused by the delay of the F35B. They are also the only country with enough cash to run Harrier how it should have been run, (we never used it to the best of its ability). Strange to me how we scrap something that will keep the Marines going for another 13 years..UK governments lack of vision! again!!

RIKKI WOLFE said on the 22-Nov-2011 at 14:48

We are putting preserative oil in them at the moement and getting them fixed into crates and then a road move to a USAF base and flown home in a VERY big transporter bye bye harrier stupid idea!!!!

john Fulton said on the 1-Jan-2012 at 19:34

Iran threatens to Block Straits of Hormuz, thats Naval warfare for starters, harrier would be very valuable, we seem to be having a turn of the tide as to speak with more sea borne ops possibly over the horizon, is there anyone in the crows nest looking over the horizon

Barrie Rodliffe said on the 8-Jan-2012 at 22:05

Strange how people rubbish British aircraft, the Harrier has proven itself to be a very good combat aircraft a great loss to both R N and RAF, especially RN who have nothing to use until the new overpriced JSF which requires a large expensive aircraft carrier, the Sea Harrier can land on and take off from almost any ship, some progress

Bob Baird said on the 16-Jan-2012 at 22:46

A very smart move on the part of the USMC! The Harriers are near "operational" standards and only need a few mods to bring them up to Marine squadron Combat effectivness. Pilots...a few lucky RAF/RN will most likly "exchange" as IP's and others to spend a couple of years in a USMC Squadron as has always been done. The MOD really has it's head well stuck up on disbanding...still does I think!

Phil Green said on the 19-Jan-2012 at 10:52

Is it a coincidence that, within six months of loosing our carriers and harrier Argentina begins sabre rattling again. How would we cope if Argentina invaded the Falklands again. It was bad enough last time with ships taken out of retirement etc.I know we have the option of taking ships up from trade (STUFT) but, to the best of my knowledge, there are no aircraft carriers sailing the ferry routes in the Channel and North Sea. Any experienced Commander wil tell you that you do not begin a ground operation until you have `Air Superiority` - superiority with what - we have nothing left !!!

Nick said on the 19-Jan-2012 at 13:38

What if the Royal Navy could co-op with the US Navy on some carriers? Say they had UK and US F/A-18Es on board. Lets say 3 carrier groups under UK command, the rest under US command, which should be plenty. Hmmm, ok, now I'm dreaming...

This whole fighter/carrier thing has blown all budgets to smithereens. They should realize the F-35 isn't going to be a fix-all (the reason it wont be best at anything is b/c it's trying to be everything) and just invest in an upgraded Super Hornet for the new carrier.

Nick said on the 19-Jan-2012 at 13:40

Oh, btw, the USMC says the UK Harriers are for spare parts only. They will not fly them, not even one.

Jason Watkins said on the 19-Jan-2012 at 13:53

While I won't rule out the possibility of UK/USN cooperation. The idea of three CBG's under RN control is laughable. There would be more assets in those three groups than the entire RN, now.

NickA said on the 25-Jan-2012 at 20:19

Wouldn't surprise me if they did fly them. They are probably in better condition and better looked after than their own. Ref. one of the above comments. We know argentina and Iran may become situations and all we have are a Lancaster, a Vulcan and a few Spitfires and Hurricanes. Seems we have given away the best we have.

Planeman 123 Jersey.C.I. said on the 30-Jan-2012 at 17:21

I am not an expert in these matters but it sounds like the hight of madness to me! just what is the Defence Minister and the Cameron Government thinking about ?

Good deal for the Americans though, good Aircraft for the price of scrap?

Would these people have ever been elected if this sort of policy had been foretold?

Jason Watkins said on the 30-Jan-2012 at 17:24

If elections actually counted for anything, they would be illegal.

Nick said on the 31-Jan-2012 at 13:17

The Harrier is NOT a great combat aircraft and saving the money otherwise spent on preventative maintenance isn't such a bad idea in these dark economic days. (OTOH providing some jobs for the maintainers is a good idea).
The USMC Harrier is a Boeing build, while the UK Harrier is BAE, and they are not 100 compatible. The USMC will not fly these, only use what spare parts they can that are compatible. Engine, landing gear, canopy, some airframe components, and a few other parts are probably compatible, while most of the avionics is not.
As awesome a concept the Harrier is, it is a bit sad to see them go, but they are not a very effective combat a/c.
What worries more is that the UK airforce is also reducing it's Typhoon fleet. One would think reducing the number of type of aircraft would make it easier to keep a larger fleet of a single type.
I am also sure most of the politicians that are getting all blame here also would prefer to keep these flying, but they sit with the realities of todays economy, and fact is, the money jar isn't endless.
Lets just hope the all-conquering F35 actually lives up to the hype. (Fat chance!)

mike yates said on the 1-Feb-2012 at 14:36

Not in our shortsighted government. Too little Too late as usual

Dave Biggs said on the 16-Feb-2012 at 15:31

Any one read the Daily Mail lately looks as if another £500Million was spent upgrading the aircraft on a Programme called the JUMP. These jets were then sold to the Americans for 116 Million, absolute disgrace. Apparently the upgrade was being carried out whilst the aircraft were in storage. The information has come to light over a recent freedom of information request.

Burn1979 said on the 20-Feb-2012 at 15:13

I cant believe they sold 72 of the 74 harriers for £110m and then spent £200m on ONE! C-17A Globemaster! sorry thats just stupid, The USMC got an amazing deal and the RAF/Navy got screwed big time by David Cameron.
also on the falklands Argentina will never go to war again over the islands thats been ruled out but they are putting on pressure with Brazil to reclaim the islands politacally, but cameron already stated there will be no talks unless the Falkland Islanders want to leave GB which they dont so the matter is finished.

Nick said on the 20-Feb-2012 at 18:02

Well, waste is common in the US as well:|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|s

JBourne said on the 2-Nov-2012 at 05:38

How many rapier missile systems does Britain have based in the Falklands along with the 3 radar stations?

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