RAF and Royal Navy Harrier 'jump-jets' are set to benefit from a new £198m support contract signed with Rolls-Royce to support the aircraft's Pegasus engine over the next ten years.
The Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine provides the Harrier with its unique Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing capability and the new contract will guarantee its availability to the front line, as well as providing all aspects of technical support.
Minister for Defence Equipment and Support, Quentin Davies, said:
"Today's £198m contract will ensure that the Harrier jump-jets continue to demonstrate their power and versatility in support of ground forces in Afghanistan or flying from our aircraft carriers. The Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine gives the Harrier its unique Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing capability.
"This contract follows in the footsteps of other fast-jet support contracts in offering improved availability of aircraft whenever and wherever they are needed."
Rolls-Royce Defence Aerospace will be managing the new contract from its site at Bristol, with some work being carried out at RAF Wittering and the main repair and overhaul being carried out at the Rolls-Royce site at Ansty in Leicestershire.
Defence Equipment and Support Harrier Project Team Leader, Group Captain Andy Ebdon, said:
"Awarding this contract to Rolls-Royce for complete through-life support of Pegasus is a very significant achievement. It not only assures affordable engine availability, but also incentivises both industry and the MOD to actively work together to improve efficiency. The end effect is better value for money and improved support performance for the front line."
The aircraft is operated in the close air support role by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy under the umbrella of Joint Force Harrier.
Harrier GR9A aircraft, with upgraded Pegasus engines to deal better with extreme conditions, have been operating from Kandahar Airbase in Afghanistan for some time in support of NATO forces conducting operations against the Taliban.
In the UK Harriers are based at RAF Cottesmore in Rutland and RAF Wittering in Cambridgeshire, as well as operating as required from Royal Navy aircraft carriers.
Image 1: (Larger size) Harrier GR7s come in to land on HMS Illustrious after a flying exercise. Photograph: PO(Phot) Christine Wood.