Joint Force Harrier

by Ade Orchard with James Barrington


As the first book written by a serving British fast jet pilot since the 1991 Gulf War, Joint Force Harrier is the personal story of Commander Ade Orchard the first Officer Commanding 800 Naval Air Squadron following its transition from the Sea Harrier FA.2 to the Harrier GR.7.
Commander Orchard details the Squadrons highs and lows from standing up on 3rd April 2006, through a work up on HMS Illustrious, to deployment to the Afghan airbase of Khandahar, and goes on in depth to outline the trials, tribulations, and fears of a commanding officer, and his personnel on a front line ground attack squadron, in an all to real shooting war. He also includes, and amply demonstrates, some of the humour and esprit de corps that can usually only be found in men and women many miles from home living in arduous conditions.

The book is a gripping read throughout; putting it down almost became a chore. Commander Orchard details in an easily digestible manner the preparations for, and the detail in which, every sortie is planned and executed, and the level of professionalism that is inherent in ensuring that the right target is accurately identified even in the heat of the battle, both by those in the air and those on the ground. It is clear from his words that there is a real understanding by the fliers, who are so often considered ‘safe’ high above the battle below, that their intervention must be timely and accurate or lives will be lost. Indeed the book outlines in detail the extremes that aircrew will go to ensure the safety of those on the ground they are trying to protect and assist. Whether drawing the reader closer to the tension of combat flying, the solemnity of the repatriation of a fallen colleague, or dealing with the small mindedness of coalition partners to inconsequential situations, Commander Orchard has given the reader a close up, frank and no holds barred insight to life in this theatre of operations.

Cdr Orchard will make nothing from the sale of this book having decided to share any profits made equally between Combat Stress - The Ex Services Mental Welfare Society - - and the Royal Navy Historic Flight -

If you enjoy reading about military history, military aviation, just like the Harrier, or simply want to try to understand what the pressures and conditions in Afghanistan are like for the men and women that serve there, then in my opinion you really should add this fine book to your bookshelves, and I can assure that you will read it again and again.

The book comprises 294 pages, interspersed with three sections comprising 63 original colour photographs that have not been seen in print previously.

Published by Michael Joseph, Joint Force Harrier is available through all good book shops from 4th September priced £16.99, ISBN 978-0-718-15399-1

Pete Thompson and Martin Keen offer their sincere thanks to Rowland White and Natalie Higgins, of Penguin Books, for supplying copies of the book and allowing On-Target the opportunity to review it.


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© On Target Aviation 2008