BRITAIN said goodbye this week, to the Harrier, the revolutionary aircraft which promised to change the face of aviation but in the end failed to match its billing. The Harrier, is indeed a quirky aircraft, its vertical landing capability means that it will always have a unique position in aviation history. If Britain had spent the necessary money on development I suspect that many aircraft these days would have a vertical landing capability.
But as usual the funds were not available and the pioneers of vertical landing abandoned the project as quickly as many other great British inventions from the Hovercraft to Concorde. Now, the jury is still out on whether the Harrier is a great aircraft, which can take its place alongside the Spitfire, the Vulcan and Lancaster bombers.
I don´t really believe that the Harrier was ever a match to some of the more modern jet aircraft. It proved succcessful in the Falklands war against rather outdated Argentinian which were flying at extended range.
But that was about it. What is a shame though is the early technology in the aircraft was not developed and new models of the aircraft produced. The end of the Harrier marks yet another milestone in the history of British aviation. But it is not the end. The aircraft is still in service with the U.S. Marine Corps, Spanish and Italian navies. It is a pity though that the country which invented the aircraft has chosen to dispose of it early. As usual in Britain it is a question of funds. So goodbye Harrier, you could have been really great.