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United States military to buy Britain’s entire fleet of Harrier jump aicraft to replace F-18D Hornet 1611111

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World Air Force News - United States
 
 
United States military to buy Britain’s entire fleet of Harrier jump aicraft to replace F-18D Hornet.
 
British Ministry of Defense has agreed to sell all of its 74 decommissioned Harrier jump jets, along with engines and spare parts, to the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps
     

British Harrier jump jet
     

The British Ministry of Defence last night confirmed that it was negotiating the sale but declined to disclose how much the Americans are offering.

The US navy, which already has a fleet of Harriers, hopes that the deal will allow it to continue operating the aircraft into the middle of the next decade and provide extra planes to replace its ageing two-seat F-18D Hornet strike fighters.

Rear-Adml Heinrich added that the US was prepared to pay $50m (£32m) for spare parts alone, while experts said converting the British jets to US specification is a relatively inexpensive process.

The Harrier’s retirement, which came at the same time as the Navy’s flagship aircraft carrier Ark Royal was axed, was heavily criticised by several senior military figures, while dozens of pilots were left without planes to fly.

The recent campaign in Libya renewed concerns that without the fleet of Harriers, Britain’s military capability has been severely hampered.

Rear Admiral Chris Parry, who was among those who criticised the defence review, said: "The issue is not that the US marines are buying the Harriers: it's that the US still thinks that the Harriers are viable aircraft. They still think there is a need for them."

The British Royal Air Force Harriers have been kept in storage at RAF Cottesmore, in Rutland, where they have been maintained in an airworthy condition in readiness for sale.