A heavily updated development of the GR7, incorporating the ability to use a wide range of advanced precision weaponry, new communications, and systems and airframe upgrades.
- Engines: RR Pegasus 105 or 107 turbofan
- Thrust: 21,750lbs
- Max speed: 574kts
- Length: 14.36m
- Max altitude: 43,000ft
- Span: 9.25m
- Aircrew: 1
- Armament: AIM-9L Sidewinder, Maverick, Paveway II, Paveway III, Enhanced Paveway, General Purpose Bombs, CRV-7
The Harrier GR9 is a heavily updated development of the existing GR7, incorporating the ability to use a wide range of advanced precision weaponry, new communications, and systems and airframe upgrades. Integration and clearance of these weapons will allow the RAF to hit a wider range of targets harder, at longer range and with less risk to aircrew.
The first improved aircraft will equip Joint Force Harrier squadrons that will be crewed by both Royal Air Force and Royal Navy personnel, following the withdrawal from service of Royal Navy Sea Harrier aircraft. MoD plans a force of four front-line squadrons and one Operational Conversion Unit. The RAF is expected to supply air and ground crew for two of the front-line squadrons and the RN for the other two while the OCU will be jointly crewed.
Alongside the GR9 upgrade programme, some aircraft are being fitted with more powerful engines to enable them to perform better in extremely hot climates, which degrade the performance of the existing Pegasus Mk105 turbofan. Aircraft with the improved engine will be designated GR9A. Total projected MoD expenditure on Harrier upgrades, which will be fully realised when the fleet of about 70 aircraft is at GR9 standard, is about £500 million. Under a £100 million contract awarded to BAE Systems in 2004, new digital weapons that will be integrated onto the GR9 will include the advanced Global Positioning System and laser-guided Paveway IV bomb, and infrared and television variants of the Maverick missile to achieve high precision ground attack capabilities. The aircraft will be able to carry up to six Paveway IV bombs, which will be linked by a new onboard computer. The Successor Identification Friend or Foe system will also equip the aircraft, to make it less vulnerable on operations. The aircraft is also expected to be fitted to carry the advanced Brimstone fire and forget anti-armour missile. Part of the longer term plans for the aircraft currently include equipping with secure communications, a ground proximity warning system and for training the Rangeless Airborne Instrumentation and Debriefing System (RAIDS). The programme also includes an upgrade to the two-seater T10 training aircraft to T12, the equivalent of the GR9 standard.
The Harrier GR9 aircraft came into service on October 2006.