boscombe down

The only TSR-2 to ever fly, XR219, at Boscombe Down between September 1964 and March 1965. Designed to conduct low level, high speed flights into Eastern Europe, penetrating air defences to deliver a nuclear strike, the aircraft was the last all-British wonder-child of aviation. With the V-Force ever increasingly the vulnerable force, in the face of new Soviet missiles, this was a necessary evolutionary step.

It must be said that this aircraft was one of the most advanced designs of it’s time; genuinely comparable to the SR-71 and XB-70 as regards innovation. Capable of Mach 2+ at medium-high altitudes, the design’s focus was on low level performance. At sub-200 feet, the aircraft would penetrate into the Eastern Block at around Mach 1.1. To achieve such performance at tree-top level, a completely new fully automatic radar system was required, far in advance of anything previously concocted. It would use terrain following and sideways looking systems which automatically maintained a prescribed altitude. Much speculation stands around it’s illogical cancellation.

The Exint pod was a design for a man-carrying, under-wing pod capable of being fitted to the underwing weapons pylons on military fast-jets and military helicopters. The concept was conceived by the former Acton, London based aircraft consultancy AVPRO U.K. Ltd as a method of inserting and extracting special forces operatives. According to Flight International magazine, in the late 1990s the UK Defence Evaluation and Research Agency test fitted a prototype pod to a Bae Sea Harrier at its Boscombe Down research facility. It is not clear if the pod subsequently went into production and/or service, although some web sources cite it as being certified for use on Israeli AH-64 Apaches. The Harrier has now been retired from RAF and Royal Navy Service. McDonnell Douglas also produced models of a GRIER (Ground Rescue Insertion Extraction Resupply) pod for the AV-8B. Problems have been cited with using weapons pylon mounted pods to ferry personnel on fast jets in particular. Excessive engine noise (in the case of the Harrier, due to proximity to the rotating jet nozzles of the Rolls-Royce Pegasus engine), high g-forces during roll due to the distance of the pod from the aircraft’s axis of roll, as well as the discomfort of travelling at fast-jet speeds have all been listed as limitations.

Source: Wikipedia