1986-10-01

Tactical Jet V/STOL - Its Future in a CTOL World 861637

The Harrier is still the world's most mis-understood fighter and V/STOL the world's most neglected military art. This paper, based on almost 30 years of V/STOL experience, attempts to remove some of the fog of misconception that surrounds tactical jet V/STOL and uncover its proven merits in a CTOL-dominated field.The need for V/STOL in tactical aviation is discussed and the Harrier set in its historical frame alongside the many essays in this field over the past 30 years. Operational experience with jet V/STOL is examined in the context of the flexibility and simplicity of Harrier's powered lift systems and flight modes, compared with other jet V/STOL vehicles.The paper goes on to discuss the military compulsions of jet V/STOL and show its practical worth in many tactical scenarios including an outline of its success in the 1982 Falklands campaign. The ghost of the V/STOL “penalty” is exorcised by comparison with CTOL fighters, which themselves exhibit deficiencies and liabilities which commonly go unacknowledged. The future potential for supersonic development of jet V/STOL tactical aircraft is assessed.The paper demonstrates that there is a vital and urgent future need for tactical jet V/STOL on land and at sea, there being no effective technology barriers to such development. It concludes that the Western World must spend a larger fraction of its military budgets on acquisition of jet V/STOL tactical airpower.

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