BAe Sea Harrier FA.2 XZ499
Falklands veteran photographed in the FAA Museum at RNAS Yeovilton on 21 April 2013.
Built in 1981 as a Sea Harrier FRS.1 but converted to an FA.2 in 1987.
Joined 809 NAS on 15 April 1982 at RNAS Yeovilton. This Squadron had been formed to prepare pilots and aircraft for the South Atlantic conflict, and by 21 April XZ499 had been repainted in a medium-grey low-visibility scheme. By 26 April an in-flight-refuelling probe had been fitted.
XZ499 was one of 8 Sea Harriers of 809 NAS that flew to Ascension Island via Banjulin, The Gambia, West Africa. On 6 May it embarked on the container ship the Atlantic Conveyor and set sail for the Falkland Islands the next day. During this passage XZ499 was flown onto the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, the Task Force Flag Ship, to join 800 NAS.
On 22 May the pilot, Lt. Hale, saw an Argentinean patrol boat, Rio Iguazu, in Choiseul Sound. Hale strafed the patrol boat with the Harrier’s cannons and forced her to beach. Later, on the 8 June, Lt Smith carried out a low level attack on an A-4B Skyhawk over Choiseul Sound. An AIM-9L Sidewinder missile was fired and the A4 crashed into sand dunes.
On 3 July 1982 XZ499 sailed for home aboard HMS Hermes and disembarked for RNAS Yeovilton on the 19 July.
Sea Harriers left service in 2006 when all naval Harrier flying was transferred to the Naval Strike Wing as part of the Joint Force Harriers based at RAF Cottesmore (my first operational station in 1962). XZ499 was retired from service and transferred to the Fleet Air Arm Museum in 2002.
Picture added on 29 October 2013 at 08:01