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9th Aircraft Squadron Coat of Arms
9th Aircraft Squadron Coat of Arms
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9th Aircraft Squadron Coat of Arms
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Inflight replenishment of an AV-8B
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Aerial view of the 9th Squadron in Rota Naval Base
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Complete suite of weapons (Panoply)
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Landing of an AV-8B on the ‘Príncipe de Asturias’ aircraft-carrier

Welcome to the 9th Aircraft Squadron; the only Spanish Navy fixed-wing fighter squadron. The VSTOL 'Harrier' fighter Unit was set up more than 30 years ago. Today, as in the past, the 9th Aircraft Squadron is the present and future of the combat air naval aviation.

The Squadron is now at the height of its operational activity. The variety of aircraft versions allows for different missions in many theatres both, ashore or from the aircraft-carrier ‘Príncipe de Asturias’ or LHD ‘Juan Carlos I’.

EMPTY WEIGHT 6,336 kgs.
MAX. TAKEOFF WEIGHT (Short Takeoff) 8,596 kgs.
CARGO 4,899 kgs.
LENGTH 14.12 m.
HEIGHT 3.35 m.

3,600 kms. (with two auxiliary tanks under the wings)
WEAPONS Free fall bombs: Mk-82, Mk-83 and Mk-84
‘Snakeye’ bombs
25 mm 12 barrel GAU gun
AGM-65 ‘Maverick’ air-to-ground missiles
GBU-12 and GBU-16 laser guided bombs
GBU-38 GPS guided bombs
AIM-9L ‘Sidewinder’ missiles
AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles
SENSORS AN/APG-65 radar; FLIR AN/AAR-51, night vision goggles,
AN/AVS-9 ANVIS, laser pods, ALE-39 decoy launcher,
AN/ALQ-167 ‘Sander’ electronic jammer.
CEILING 15,240 m.
MAX. SPEED 1,065 kms/h at sea level.

This Aircraft Squadron is very versatile and can participate in many missions:

  • Combat Air Patrols (CAP) defending a Naval Task Group.
  • Armed reconnaissance and attacks against land and sea targets with an assortment of weapons.
  • Close Air Support (CAS) of deployed forces on land.
  • Capability to operate from carriers and carrier-type ships as well as from forward bases.
  • In-flight refueling capability for prolonged missions.
  • Helicopter escort.
  • Training of new pilots.
  • Maintenance tasks.

The 9th Aircraft Squadron is part of the Spanish Navy Air Flotilla with base in Rota Naval Base (Cádiz).

The Harrier II PLUS has a totally redesigned and larger fuselage. New wing fuel tanks were incorporated and Rolls-Royce F402-RR-408 engines installed.

The plane has carbon-fiber composite leading edge root extensions wings (LERX).

However, the main feature is the nose with its state-of-the-art AN/APG-65 pulse Doppler radar with different configurations: air-air, air-surface with an advanced multi-mode, all-weather, day and night system.

The Harrier II is also used as a defense fighter thanks to its ‘Sidewinder’ and AMRAAM missiles. The nose is equipped with an AN/AAR-51 forward looking infrared device which displays IR images on the head up display (HUD) or cockpit displays. For night missions, the pilot has AN/AVS-9 night vision goggles compatible with flight instruments.

Eight II-PLUS aircraft were procured and five AV-8Bs upgraded. The remaining 4 are currently being upgraded to the SNUG version.

The Spanish Navy also procured a TAV-8B double-seat advanced trainer.

Although the internal fuel capacity was enlarged for STOL operations from carriers, the AV-8Bs are fitted with pods under the wings for external fuel tanks to increase endurance and range. They are also equipped with a retractable inflight refueling probe.

The first Vertical and Short Take-off and Landing (V/STOL) prototype (P1127) flew on October 21st 1960 with a powerful ‘Pegasus’ engine. After extensive trials, at the end of 1961, the P1127 managed to fly forward, backwards and hovering.

Although somehow anecdotic, it is worth remembering Thomas Edison’s aphorism stating that airplanes would be useless unless they could fly like humming birds.

In October 1972 the Spanish Navy took a step forward integrating into the Harrier V/STOL program developed by Hawker Siddeley. The Test Pilots Chief, John Farley flew from Dunsfold airfield and landed on the ‘Dédalo’ sailing off Barcelona. The exhibition was a success and paved the way for further trials that concluded with the decision to enhance Spanish Navy capabilities with the procurement of this type of fixed-wing aircraft.

In August 1977, the test pilot John Farley took off using the so-called Ski Jump which clearly enhances the cargo capacity of the plane when taking off.

In 1987 12 AV-8B were procured and formed the core of the 9th Squadron. The first three units arrived on October 6th 1987 and were dubbed ‘Cobras’.

In 1996 and 1997 8 further ‘Harrier’ II PLUS were built by Construcciones Aeronáuticas S.A. To this end, several technicians from the manufacturer (McDonnell Douglas) establish themselves in Seville to start a joint venture to co-build the fighters in Saint Louis, Missouri and Seville for final assembly.

The Squadron has clocked up more than 50,000 flight hours.

The Spanish Navy intends to continue upgrading its ‘Harrier’ squadron with better versions in order to keep this valuable tactical asset fully operational.

  • 1 Squadron Commander (pilot).
  • 23 officers (20 pilots and 3 maintenance officers).
  • 67 NCOs
  • 81 Leading seamen and ratings

National and international exercises and maneuvers.

Collaboration with Army and Air Force units.

Operation ROMEO-SIERRA during the Perejil conflict.


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