The participation of the Harrier II fighters of the Spanish Navy in the NATO Neptune Strike exercise is leaving interesting images.
We already saw here two days ago the disassembly of the wing of a Spanish Harrier II aboard the aircraft carrier "Juan Carlos I". In the last few hours, some official channels of the Atlantic Alliance have broadcast more images.
On November 1, STRIKFORNATO published this photo of a Spanish Harrier II. We see two members of the Embarked Air Unit (UNAEMB) with red vests that identify them as those in charge of weapons and ammunition, loading a bomb (apparently a Mk.82) on one of the supports on the wing. port.
Another photo of a Harrier II, also published by STRIKFORNATO. It is surely the same plane (VA.1B-25/01-914) in the previous photo, since we see the bomb loaded in the same support on the port wing.
STRIKFORNATO also published this beautiful photo on November 1, showing two Spanish Harrier IIs in flight over the sea.
That same day, another Atlantic Alliance account, NATO JFC Naples, posted This photo of two Spanish Harrier IIs flying in formation next to an F-4E Phantom II, apparently Greek (the photo is of very poor quality and their insignia cannot be distinguished) also during the Neptune Strike exercise. No one should be alarmed: with the title of this article I was not referring to this formation, of course (it would be shameful to replace the already old Harrier IIs with even older Phantom IIs).
Now comes the most interesting part. Yesterday STRIKFORNATO published the two photos that you can see next to this paragraph. In the first, above these lines, we see a wedge formation of five fighters flying over the Italian aircraft carrier "Cavour" C-550. In this photo it is not clear what type of fighters they are. The following reveals it.
In this image we see an F-35B of the Gruppo Aeromobili Imbarcati (GRUPAER) of the Italian Navy accompanied by two Italian Harrier IIs. The photo is taken from another fighter flying to the left of the F-35B.
Today STRIKFORNATO has published an overhead photo of this fighter formation. We see the Italian F-35B leading the wedge formation, accompanied by four Harrier IIs. The two Harriers flying on the starboard side are Italian (they can be recognized by their cockades and the gray color with which their noses are painted). The two Harriers flying on the port side (on the right in the photo) are Spanish, from the 9th Squadron. Below these lines you can see an enlargement of the photo.
As we already saw here on October 31, The Spanish Navy is interested in getting the F-35B to replace its Harrier II. It has been suggested for three years, with no confirmation of the purchase by the government until now. Time passes and the Spanish Harriers see the end of their operational life approaching, with possibly no time for their replacements to arrive. Meanwhile, Italy, with a more forward-looking government, already has its F-35Bs active in both its Navy and its Air Force.
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