BAE Systems Harrier GR.9 ZD461 outside its new hanagar at Duxford just after its arrival / © IWM Duxford
Recently, BAE Systems Harrier GR9 ZD461 was transported from RAF Cottesmore to IWM Duxford, where it will undergo conservation work and a rebuild.
The acquisition of a second-generation Harrier with Afghanistan theatre history is hugely important to Imperial War Museums and enables us to communicate and interpret significant aspects of contemporary conflict. No other aircraft in the current IWM collection has Afghanistan service history so Harrier ZD461 presents an important addition to the IWM collection which develops our interpretation of modern warfare.
Harrier GR9 ZD461 was originally built as a GR5 model and was upgraded to a GR7 in 1992. In 1999, the aircraft served with No.4 Army Co-operation (AC) Squadron and moved with the squadron from Germany to RAF Cottesmore in Rutland, Great Britain.
During February and March 2003, the aircraft was deployed with No.4 AC Squadron to Operation Telic in Iraq. In August 2004, No.4 AC Squadron was deployed to Operation Herrick, at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, followed by deployment to HMS Invincible in 2005. By May 2006, No.4 AC Squadron was once again serving in Afghanistan. This was followed by a tour of duty at Luqa, Malta before returning to RAF Cottesmore in August 2007. From there the aircraft was transferred to RAF Lossiemouth in September 2007 before being upgraded to a GR9 under the Joint Maintenance and Upgrade programme in 2008.
In January 2010, Harrier ZD461 was grounded at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, having suffered CAT.3 damage from brake fire during exercise Red Flag 2010-2. In March 2010, it was returned to RAF Cottesmore for repairs, where it remained following the withdrawal of the Harrier fleet from RAF service in December 2010.
IWM London is about to undertake a large-scale redevelopment, creating brand new First World War galleries as part of our plans to mark the First World War Centenary in 2014 as well as a transformed central atrium space. It is hoped that the Harrier GR9 will be able to be included in the reconfigured atrium, which will re-interpret and redisplay our iconic large objects, but we are still in the process of finalising our exhibits for this space.