View Full Version : Harrier vs F-15

23rd May 2003, 06:35
Not sure if this is the best forum to post this, so moderator, please feel free to move as you see fit.

I read the book "Sea Harrier Over the Falklands" by Sharkey Ward a few years ago. In it he described some dis-simalar(sp?) training they did with Sea Harriers vs some F-15's in which the Sea Harrier lot got the better of the F-15's in repeated engagements.

How was this possible? On paper it seems the Eagle holds all of the cards. Does the Sea Harrier turn tighter or is it more agile? And how could they compensate for the big radar and Aim 7 capability?

I'm not a military iron driver, but certainly do have an interest in the stuff. Cmdr(?) Ward may have desribed it in the book but it has been a number of years since I read it.

Anybody who wishes to shed some light please feel free to pitch in.

23rd May 2003, 08:04
The trick the Harrier's must use is to force the F-15's into a low-speed dogfight.
At such a low speed, the Harrier is FAR more capable in every way than the F-15, and so will get the shot every time.
At higher speeds I think perhaps the advantage may well be reversed.

West Coast
23rd May 2003, 13:14
BVR and the Harrier dies every time.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
23rd May 2003, 16:57
I understand that the Harrier can turn very tightly at low speed by use of vectored thrust to offset some of the wing loading.

This is really one for JF :~))


Genghis the Engineer
24th May 2003, 18:00
Apologies for my terminology, it's some years since I did anything on Combat aircraft. Hopefully if I make any glaring errors somebody will kindly correct me.

Combat effectiveness basically comes down to three things:-

- Stability and range of the weapons platform.
- Instantaneous turning ability
- Continuous turning ability.

At high altitude and high speed, the F15 should almost certainly win using it's AMRAAM and a bloody good BVR Radar, so put them at, say, 30,000 ft and 20nm apart and all other issues are irrelevant - the Harrier pilot is going to be lucky to survive the encounter.

Instantaneous turning ability is the ability to pull g quickly, using primarily wing-lift (or toys such as vectored thrust) before running out of energy. This will help you out once, in close quarters, to either take a close quarters kill or avoid it. This capability varies with altitude. The Harrier Mk.1 wing which was fitted to the GR1, GR3 and all SHAR marks is pretty poor in this respect and will stall off a turn when loaded, particularly at altitude, at a miserly 3 or 4g. However, it is a lower speed aeroplane than the F15 and if a Harrier pilot can force the combat in close and survive the first few turns, then he may get the F15 down to his speeds where that aircraft has not particular advantage.

Finally continuous turning ability is, simplisitically speaking, a function of thrust to weight. The F15 I believe has a powerplant optimised for high altitude whilst the Harrier powerplant is the reverse. At low level the thrust:weight of the Harrier is superb and it can maintain continuous turn rates that nothing else can match. This should allow our Harrier pilot to turn inside and bring a guns or winder lock onto the F15 (or similar supersonic fighter) since the faster aircraft will run out of energy at low-level low speed and can't hold it's own.

So, my largely uneducated opinion, is that the Harrier should have a better than even chance against a supersonic fighter such as the F15 IF the pilot can force the combat to low level and survive the first few turns (perhaps using unexpected tricks such as a thruppeny bit turn).


25th May 2003, 03:38
Many thanks for the replies.

My rusty brain recalled a few more details from the book. I think some were set up as high speed merge and others were done with either red or blue elements in advantage/disadvantage positions.

I would think that as stated, in any type of BVR engagement the Harrier would generally fair poorly. These were probably close in fights then.

One of the interseting tactics they used was to employ the Harrier's wing to shield their exhaust in order to deny a sidewinder shot.

I think I'm going to have to read the book again!

25th May 2003, 03:50
2 points worth considering:

1. Ident before shoot requirements.

2. The usual BS spouted by the fungus-faced one!