Naval Air: Night Trap Blues

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May 1,2008: Only 40 percent of the Royal Navy's 48 Harrier pilots are qualified to do night landings ("night traps") in their vertical takeoff aircraft. That's because most of the 24 Harrier aircraft are assigned to supporting British troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, or training pilots who are headed for those places. While the pilots miss the carrier operations, they are glad to have an opportunity to operate in a combat zone. Over the last half century, most European combat pilots have gone through an entire 20-30 year career without ever having been in combat.

Eventually, the Harrier pilots will get back to carrier operations, and train to qualify again for night landings. In 2015, the Harriers will start getting replaced by the new F-35B.

 


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