Uncertain future for Harrier pilots after jets axed

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Harrier jump jet pilots face an uncertain future after the government revealed it is still reviewing the number of pilots it will retain following the decision to scrap the aircraft.

Responding to a question in Parliament, defence Minister Andrew Robathan said that the number of pilots retained would be subject to further discussion, although some pilots would be needed to help regenerate carrier strike capability in time for the launch of HMS Queen Elizabeth in 2020.

He said: 'The number of Fleet Air Arm Harrier pilots that will be required to leave the Royal Navy is subject to ongoing work between the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force to determine how best to meet the requirement to regenerate a carrier strike capability in 2020.'

He said Royal Navy Harrier pilots would not be required to leave the naval service before July 2012 unless they apply to leave earlier and pilots made redundant will get a 'lump sum' and 'resettlement training'.

There are currently 53 Harrier pilots in the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm and 135 in the Royal Air Force.