The Marine Corps will buy some 40 British Harrier GR7s and GR9s to cannibalize their parts for its fleet of AV-8Bs, according to a report in The Telegraph newspaper, and some British defense types are angry the U.K. didn't get a better deal. After the Ministry of Defence spent around £1 billion to upgrade and sustain its now-decommissioned Harrier fleet, the United States is reportedly buying them for £34 million -- a little more than $55 million.
Telegraph reporters Con Coughlin and Thomas Harding quote one critic of the deal who complains the MoD is letting its Harriers go "for peanuts," and they also asked somebody else who knows a thing or two about these birds:
Admiral Sir John “Sandy” Woodward, the commander of the Falklands Task Force, described the decision as “crass beyond belief”.So why do the Marines need a batch of British Harriers? The answer, according to this story, says a lot about both the state of today's Harrier fleet and, you guessed it, the development of the F-35B Lightning II:
“The Americans have got themselves a bargain as our Government does not know what it’s doing. This is a shocking waste of taxpayers money. These Harriers should be flying off a Navy aircraft carrier today bombing Libya and bringing the campaign to a quick conclusion but instead they are being flogged for scrap.”
It is understood that the majority of the 40 serviceable Harrier GR7 and GR9s will be sent to America where their engines and general hardware such as cockpits and flaps will be used to service USMC aircraft.We've asked the Marine Corps for details about their side of the story -- we'll update when we hear more.
The fleet of ageing US Harrier AV8Bs has to remain in service for several years longer than planned because their replacement, the jump jet variant of the Joint Strike Fighter, is years behind schedule.