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Sea Harrier FA2 (XZ499)

Sea Harrier FA2 (XZ499)

Falklands War History

This aircraft was transferred to 809 Naval Air Squadron on the 15th April 1982 at RNAS Yeovilton.  809 Naval Air Squadron was formed to prepare pilots and aircraft for the South Atlantic conflict.  By the 21st April XZ499 had been repainted in a medium-grey low-visibility scheme and by the 26th April an in-flight-refuelling probe had been fitted. 

XZ499 was one of eight Sea Harriers of 809 Naval Air Squadron that flew to Ascension Island via Banjulin The Gambia, West Africa.  On the 6th May it embarked on the container ship the Atlantic Conveyor and set sail for the Falkland Islands on the 7th May.  During this passage XZ499 was flown onto the aircraft carrier HMS Hermes, which was also the Flag Ship of the Task Force, to join 800 Naval Air Squadron.

Once it reached the Islands XZ499 was involved in two significant actions.  On the 22nd of May, whilst being flown by Lt Hale, the Argentinean patrol boat, Rio Iguazu, was spotted in Choiseul Sound.  Hale strafed the patrol boat with the Harrier’s cannons and forced her to beach.  Later, on the 8th 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 the 3rd July 1982 XZ499 sailed for home from Port William aboard HMS Hermes and disembarked for RNAS Yeovilton on the 19th July.

The Sea Harrier FA2 (XZ499) was built in 1981 as a Sea Harrier FRS1 but converted to an FA2 in 1987. It saw active service in 1982 during the Falklands Conflict. Sea Harriers left service in 2006 when all naval harrier flying transferred to the naval Strike Wing as part of the Joint Force Harrier based at RAF Cottesmore. XZ499 was retired from service and transferred to the Fleet Air Arm Museum in 2002.


Type: Fighter/Attack

Crew: 1

Length: 14.17 metres (46ft 6ins)

Span: 7.7 metres (25ft 3ins)

Engine: Rolls-Royce Pegasus 104 Vectored Turbofan with 21,500lb of thrust

Speed: 951mph (Mach 1.25)

Dates Service: 1979 - 2006

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