Wouldn’t it be great if one of the Royal Navy’s Harrier jump jets was to go on display in Portsmouth? Now mothballed and stored in a hangar somewhere after being controversially axed by the government as part of the Strategic Defence and Security Review, these iconic aircraft await an uncertain future.
The News understands that the Ministry of Defence is looking to sell the jets through its Defence Disposal Agency, but there’s been no official announcement yet.
Now Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock has called for one to be put on show in the city as a celebration of the role played by the Fleet Air Arm.
We think it’s an excellent idea, an eye-catching way to recall what has been a great era for naval aviation.
As Mr Hancock points out, the Harrier played a valuable role for the Royal Navy for more than 30 years. Surely that’s worth marking in some way?
Of course, ships are what people automatically associate with Portsmouth as home of the navy.
But Harriers flew on and off our aircraft carriers countless times and their role should not be underestimated.
Imagine how striking a Harrier would look if it was to be put on display in a prominent part of the city, maybe close to the naval base.
Or, as Mr Hancock suggests, alongside the M275 so that everybody coming into Portsmouth couldn’t miss it.
Predictably, the MoD is non-committal. It says no final decision has been made on when the Harriers will be sold, or how many of the 70 will be put up for sale.
A spokesman said: ‘We are looking at various options for their disposal.’
We have said before that the decision to take the Harriers out of service was too hasty and should be reconsidered.
But even if the government did do a U-turn and brought them back, it wouldn’t need all 70.
We urge the MoD to consider letting Portsmouth have one as a powerful reminder of the long and valuable contribution it made to the navy.
And no, we don’t expect to have to pay for it.