Final flight, and vertical landing, for the Harrier

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The Independent Online

Celebrated for their role in the Falklands War, Britain's Harrier Jump Jets made their final flight yesterday before the last 16 aircraft still in service with the Royal Air Force are scrapped under the Government's defence cuts.

Introduced in 1969, the aircraft's almost magical ability to take off and land vertically, or to hover motionless in mid-air, was a radical innovation and allowed it to operate from ships, as seen in this image peering below the deck of HMS Hermes during an operation in the South Atlantic in 1982.

Such memories were celebrated yesterday as the fleet took to the grey skies above RAF Cottesmore, in the East Midlands, for a farewell flight over several RAF bases.

What will happen to the retired aircraft has not yet been decided, though a defence minister has said they may be sold to the US or India.