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Asia - Central | Britain/U.K. | Field Reports | Fighters & Attack | Issues - Political | Policy - Doctrine | Policy - Procurement | USA

The Major’s Email: British Harrier Support in Afghanistan, Revisited

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GR7s & Eurofighter(click to view full) Close air support remains an especially live issue on the modern battlefield, and it is once again affecting procurement discussions in Britain. “Field Report: British British GR7 Harrier IIs in Afghanistan” addressed the positive benefits of Britain’s Harrier force in theater. A 2006 controversy over their performance in the wake of a soldier’s email deserves equal attention, and has broader implications. In September 2006, newspaper reports described a leaked email from a British Major serving in Afghanistan, who created a tempest when he said that: “Twice I have had Harriers in support when c/s on the ground have been in heavy contact, on one occasion trying to break clean. A female harrier pilot ‘couldn’t identify the target’, fired 2 phosphorous rockets that just missed our own compound so that we thought they were incoming RPGs (rocket-propelled grenades), and then strafed our perimeter missing the enemy by 200 metres.” Nor is that all. He reportedly added that “the US air force had been fantastic”, and “I would take an A-10 over Eurofighter any day.” The UK MoD responded at the time. Now, it seems that the controversy described back in 2006 is influencing procurement recommendations […]

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