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In October 1972 the Spanish Navy took a step forward integrating into the Harrier V/STOL program developed by Hawker Siddeley. In 1987 12 AV-8B were procured and formed the core of the 9th Squadron. The first three units arrived on October 6th 1987 and were dubbed 'Cobras'.
The Harrier II PLUS has a totally redesigned and larger fuselage. New wing fuel tanks were incorporated and Rolls-Royce F402-RR-408 engines installed. The plane has carbon-fiber composite leading edge root extensions wings (LERX).
However, the main feature is the nose with its state-of-the-art AN/APG-65 pulse Doppler radar with different configurations: air-air, air-surface with an advanced multi-mode, all-weather, day and night system. In 1996 and 1997 8 further 'Harrier' II PLUS were built by Construcciones Aeronauticas S.A.
The Squadron has since clocked up more than 50,000 flight hours. The Spanish Navy intends to continue upgrading its 'Harrier' squadron with better versions in order to keep this valuable tactical asset fully operational.
Photo Copyright Jakub Zurek