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|I was employed on the Harrier GR3 at Gutersloh, 1977 -1980 in the trade of armourer.|
Fully loaded with fuel and weapons, it needed a short take-off run. When we operated from our "holes in the forest" a short distance from the hides was a strip of PSP used as a mini-runway. It could hover back in, no worries.
We also used autobahns for the same reason.
Back in those Cold War days, it was only expected to last a maximum of three sorties. Under the control of the Army (both squadrons had an Army GLO attached) it’s role was dumping cluster bombs and ground strafing Ivan the Red at very low level. Naturally, Ivan would be letting loose salvoes of SAMs in reply.
Once our aircraft had all been destroyed we would probably been absorbed by the army as amatuer infantry. In my case, also being trained in the dark arts of the demolition of technical sites, fuel dumps, pump houses etc. used as an explosives combat engineer.
This would probably have meant that I’d havead h a life span shorter than a geriatric gnat.
The USMC certainly got a large bargain for a very small mess of pottage. Most of the Harrier fleet had only recently been upgraded, costing mega pounds.