Scale : 1/48
Sea Harrier FA.2
As Britain's military budget continued to decline, her last true aircraft carrier, the Ark Royal was due to be retired. In its place, a new class of 'through-deck' carriers was developed in the Invincible class. These carriers would embark a variety of helicopters and a new version of the Harrier VSTOL fighter - the Sea Harrier FRS.1. This new Harrier would optimise the aircraft in the air-to-air role by raising the cockpit for better all-round visibility, adding the Blue Fox radar for all-weather intercept capability, and produced from materials better suited for extended salt air exposure.
During the 1982 Falklands/Malvinas conflict, the HMS Invincible and HMS Hermes were dispatched to the South Atlantic along with all available surface combatants and support vessels. The FRS.1 provided air defence support to the fleet and to the troops ashore and did a credible job against the Argentine Air Force and Naval air forces operating from their home bases on the mainland. With the help of the last-minute upgrade to employ the all-aspect AIM-9L Sidewinder, the Harrier FRS.1 was able to achieve 21 kills without any air-to-air losses.
In 1984, development started on an upgrade to the Sea Harrier based upon the combat experience gained in the South Atlantic. The improved Harrier would receive the advanced Blue Vixen radar, AIM-120 AMRAAM capability, greater range, and an updated cockpit. The resulting aircraft was designated as FA.2, and 34 FRS.1 airframes were converted along with 18 brand new airframes. It wasn't long before the first FA.2s saw action, as these were assigned to support the UN forces in Bosnia in 1994.
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