Royal Air Force Removes Harrier Jet from Surbiton

The Surbiton headquarters of the Royal Air Force has played home to a specific Harrier jet for almost nine years. Now, after much deliberation, the Royal Air Force feels it may be time to say goodbye. There are a few different reasons for this, most of which have to do with the age of the aircraft and its current condition. The Harrier jet may have become a safety hazard, and the RAF would prefer to reuse its parts while they are still in working order.

The aircraft is of some historic value as a suspected participant in the Falklands War, but this fact alone may not be enough to save it from being salvaged for parts if it is deemed to unsafe to leave at the Surbiton headquarters. While various parts from the aircraft may be used for repairs on other models, this particular Harrier jet itself is too old to be easily repaired. Outside of the Falklands War, it has been heavily used as a training aircraft. It has also been used as an educational tool regarding aircraft mechanics. Over the years, it has simply seen too much wear and tear through its use in multiple capacities to be viable for future flight, the Your Local reports.

This news arrives to the chagrin of those stationed in Surbiton, who see the aircraft for its sentimental value as well as its historic value. One former cadet has gone as far as to say that the removal and salvaging of the Harrier jet would be akin to committing a crime. Some believe that removal of the aircraft might actually hurt morale, as many of the cadets have grown accustomed to seeing it as an integral part of their headquarters.

Aside from the worry of impacting the morale of the current cadets, some are also worried that removal of the aircraft might impact the cadet headquarters’ ability to bring in newer cadets. Many are drawn to Surbiton in particular because of the Harrier jet, and they may be inclined to search somewhere else once it is no longer a presence. Many feel it is a part of the 1034 Squadron, although during its service time it flew with literally every RAF squadron there was.

Removal of the Harrier jet may be a controversial issue for those at Surbiton, but the Royal Air Force feels that it is time to give the plane a proper sending off. They are aware of the disappointment this will cause, but feel that the decision is integral to the continued health and safety of their cadets. Even so, cadets have made it very clear that their beloved Harrier jet will be missed, as it has become near and dear to almost every one of them.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE