No plan to keep jets in reserve

From left, University of Portsmouth head of brand strategy and corporate communications Emma Fields, Portsmouth FC commercial director Anna Mitchell, university governor and former Portsmouth FC President David Willan, football club CEO Mark Catlin and university vice chancellor Professor Graham Galbraith

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THE government has refused to bow to pressure to keep retired Harrier jets in storage as a long-term reserve.

The jets, which were axed in the defence cuts in October last year, are being kept airworthy with a view to selling them to another country – rumoured to be India.

Defence minister Peter Luff said: ‘There are no plans to retain these aircraft as a reserve capability.

‘The Harrier fleet is in storage and is receiving minimum maintenance including anti-deterioration measures to keep the aircraft in an airworthy condition for possible sale.

‘It is too early to say what the final disposal arrangements will be and any associated storage costs will be considered as part of that process.’

The aircraft retired from service with the Royal Navy and Royal Air Force on December 15 last year.

This has left the UK without any planes capable of flying from aircraft carriers until 2020 when the Joint Strike Fighter jets (F-35C) join one of the new supercarriers in Portsmouth.

The decision on how many of the F-35Cs are to be bought is under review.