The UK’s GR9 Harriers to Add ‘Capability E’
It sounds like something James Bond would be sent to keep out of enemy hands. In January 2008, BAE Systems announced contract to develop ‘Capability E’ for its Harrier II GR9 (AV-8B+ counterpart) V/STOL(Vertical or Short Take-Off and Landing) jump jets.
There’s no need to call James, but the CAP E contract is nonetheless important to the UK’s Harrier fleet, which will remain Britain’s key expeditionary close-support aircraft and naval aviation backbone until the F-35B Lightning II STOVL(Short Take-Off, Vertical Landing) fully supplants them some time in the 2020s…
Capability E will involve the design, development, integration and clearance of a number of systems including software functionality for secure communications, the establishment of a second secure communications channel, a replacement video recording system, modified Auxiliary Communications Navigation Identification Panel (ACNIP), and the introduction of a Tactical Information Exchange Capability (TIEC). TIEC is the project name adopted for the introduction of a common system solution that provides Link 16 and IDM data link communications for Tornado GR4 and Harrier GR9 fleets. TIEC will not use the standard MIDS-LVT black boxes, substituting an equivalent item which is lighter, slightly smaller, and comes in a single box instead of 2 boxes.
Britain’s Harriers are in the process of receiving AN/AAQ-33 Sniper ATP surveillance and targeting pods to improve their close air support capabilities, after some complaints surfaced from Afghanistan. The fleet is also involved in Brtain’s “future contracting for availability” model of fixed-price through-life maintenance support, and the capability release programme will be implemented under the Harrier Joint Upgrade and Maintenance Programme (JUMP) program at RAF Cottesmore as each incremental capability is tested and approved.
Contracts & Key Events
June 29/10: The first Harrier GR9 flies with the Tactical Information Exchange Capability (TIEC), making contact with a supporting E-3D Sentry AWACS aircraft and the Tactical Data Link Support Unit at RAF Waddington during a 1:40 long test flight from Warton aerodrome. TIEC includes 2 new digital links (Link 16 and Variable Message Format/VMF), and also integrates the RAF’s Air Force Application Program Development (AFAPD) message format. TIEC will ultimately be included on both Harrier GR9s and Tornado GR4s. BAE Systems.
Jan 14/08: BAE Systems announces the “Capability E” Harrier development contract. BAE Systems values the program at GBP 84 million (about $165 million), while while the UK Ministry of Defence values the program at GBP 99 million (about $195 million) within the existing GBP 500 million GR9 capability release program. UK Ministry of Defence | BAE Systems.