Twenty-one years ago today (April,2 1993), the British Aerospace Sea Harrier FA2 was delivered to the Royal Navy. The Sea Harrier FA2 (informally known as the “SHAR”) was a single-seat, Vertical/Short-Takeoff and Landing (V/STOL) fighter aircraft optimized for shipboard operations. British Aerospace upgraded 33 surviving Sea Harrier FRS1s to FA2 standards, with a batch of 18 new FA2s being delivered between 1995 and 1998. The FA2 upgrade of the original Sea Harrier FRS1 involved changes to the airframe, cockpit, avionics, radar and armament. The most obvious change with the FA2 was the Blue Vixen radar mounted in a new radome. The new pulse-Doppler radar featured lookdown/shootdown capability, track-while-scan, multiple target tracking and improved surface target detection capabilities.
The FA2 was the first UK aircraft to carry the AIM-120 Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM). The pairing of Blue Vixen and AMRAAM gave the FA2 a true Beyond Visual Range (BVR) air-to-air interception capability. The Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk 106 powerplant offered a slight thrust increase and improved thrust at lower operating temperatures. Sea Harrier FA2s participated in deployments to the Adriatic Sea and Persian Gulf before being retired from service in 2006.
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