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miércoles, 22 de diciembre de 2010

How to Fly the Harrier Jump Jet

The Harrier made its final flight with the British RAF last week, marking one end to the jet famous for being able to take off and land vertically. The jet's recently declassified flight manual shows just how extraordinary it is.

The original Hawker Harrier Jet was designed by the British in the 1960s and utilized a "vectored thrust turbofan engine" that allowed thrust generated by the engines to be pointed downward. The first planes were launched using ramps that curved upward like a ski jump on the flight deck.

In 1982, the Harrier concept first saw major active duty as the Sea Harrier in the Falklands Island War. Though not as fast as the French/Israeli Mirage III and Dagger jets Argentina deployed, the maneuverability and advanced weapons allowed the Harriers to kill 28 percent of the Argentine fighters without losing a single plane in air-to-air combat.

Following its success in the Balkan and Gulf conflicts, BAE and McDonnell Douglas improved the aircraft, which became the the GR5/7/9 in Great Britain and AV-8B (pictured above) in the United States. The final British Harrier II active duty flight occurred last week, though the American version is still flying and other nations continue using the incredible jet.

This guide to the American AV-8B demonstrates both the complexity and the awesomeness of the Harrier. We've edited down the 714-page document to the best diagrams and most interesting segments.

Above: U.S. Navy crew members push an AV-8B Harrier aircraft onto an aircraft elevator aboard the Wasp class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) on April 29, 2008. Photo: Petty Officer 3rd Class Gabriel S. Weber / U.S. Navy

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