Harrier Vectoring

Read the forum code of contact

Member for

21 years 8 months

Posts: 8

During the Falklands war, it is known that the RAF and RN ,whilst engaging Argentine aircraft did not even consider using the Harrier's ability to VIFF (vector in foward flight)for use in combat as it was thought that the dramatic reduction in speed would leave the Harriers too vunerable.
So, does anyone know if any air arm in the world today trains their Harrier pilots to VIFF in combat?
Also,without VIFFING,how does the Harrier's manouverbility compare to aircraft such as the F-18 or F-16?

Original post

RE: Harrier Vectoring

In his book, Hornets Over Kuwait, USMC Major Jay Stout says that he has never seen Harriers Viffing, that he believes it to be a myth (or words to that effect) and that he has never been beaten in a dog-fight against a Harrier (AV-8B) and he does not consider it to be comparable to F-18s, F-16s or similar modern fighters. I see that last year he wrote an article in the Naval Proceedings Magazine calling for the VSTOL version of JSF top be cancelled, so he is obviously not a fan of either the Harrier or VSTOL, so he is probably biased, although his bias might originate from his operational experience.

RE: Harrier Vectoring

I recall that it was American pilots who 'discovered' viffing early on in the Harrier's carrer. There was much talked about it but none in combat for the reasons you stated. I doubt that the Harrier is comparable to the F-18 or F-16 but it is a small aircraft and is pretty manoeuverable. What is interesting is that at DERA, they are using the VAAC Harrier to test digital flight controls and laws for the JSF program. Even before this they had developed everything needed for digital flight systems, but did not introduce any of it into current Harriers (though I could be wrong).

REgs,

KZ

RE: Harrier Vectoring

Yea, the USMC were the "inventors" of viffing. As I recall it was tested out by a AV-8A squadron (VMA-311?) in the Phillipines against USN F-14s and apparently the Harriers decimated the F-14s. Having regard to the high loss rate of the AV-8B, maybe the USMC does'nt teach Viffing because it would lead to greater losses and as it is hard for inexperienced pilots to do safely.

Member for

21 years 8 months

Posts: 795

RE: Harrier Vectoring

By the standards of the times before F-16s, Harriers were exceptionaly agile, most probably because of their capability to turn fast without loosing much speed (good trust-to-weight ratio). This has nothing to do with "viffing".

By modern standards, however, the story is a bit different, and Harriers wouldn't have a very easy time against any F-16s or F-18s, foremost because "teen-fighters" can turn at the same speed as Harrier, but still more tightly.

Royal Navy's Sea Harriers became a kind of "notorious" outfit in the early '80s, as they almost every mock-battle against F-5Es of the 527th Aggressor Sqn, and the F-15s from Bittburg. But the fact was, that then (and still today) British FRS.1 were (and still are) flown by hand picked, very best, elité pilots (sorry don't remember more compliments for them at the moment), able to win over any other plane and force of the world.

The reason behind concentrating such good pilots in the Sea Harrier community was the complexity of the aircraft, as well as the fact, that the plane was not at all easy to fly. Also the fact, that somebody "behind the curtain" in the RN was surely as hell ready to show "the world", that Sea Harriers and Invincible carriers are more than "Bear-hunters" and "anti-submarine cruisers".

Other Harrier communities of the world are not far behind in their elitism. As Patrick mentioned US AV-8Bs were also capable of taking it even against USN's F-14s in close combat, while there are some similar reports about Spanish AV-8Bs in other exercises. The difference was - however, that the RN's pilots also found the way to evade even F-15s from medium-range.

So far, however, there is not a single report that "viffing" was used in any real air-to-air combat, or even in dissimilar air combat training maneuvring. It will most probably also not be the "most important" maneuver in the future, as most (Sea) Harriers/AV-8Bs now got better radars and AMRAAMs.

Member for

21 years 8 months

Posts: 469

RE: Harrier Vectoring

LAST EDITED ON 14-Aug-00 AT 08:11 PM (GMT)[p]With reference to Viffing the has never really been a need to carry out this manoeuver.During the Falklands War most combats were usually 'chasing fights' with the Harriers trying to catch 'clean' Daggers and A-4s on the way home.In terms of its
ability the Harrier is very much a ground attack aircraft and is optimised for that role.I know that in various exercises in Canada the old GR.3's used to fly very low (sometimes through fire breaks in forests!) which their small size allowed for!So what is always comes down to is the ability to see and get a 'lock' before the other.The GR.7's are certainly agile but lets remember they are a 'bomber' as such!

Member for

21 years 8 months

Posts: 258

RE: Harrier Vectoring

Maybe they might consider learning that with the short take off vertical landing JSF. But still i dought it.