The Harrier GR.1 was the first operational version of the Harrier in British service. The first RAF squadron to be equipped with the Harrier GR.1 was No. 1 Squadron converting on to the radical new aircraft at RAF Wittering in April 1969. An early demonstration of the Harrier’s capabilities was the participation of two aircraft in the Daily Mail Transatlantic Air Race in May 1969, flying between St Pancras railway station, London and downtown Manhattan with the use of aerial refuelling. The Harrier completed the journey in 6 hours 11 minutes.
Two Harrier squadrons were established in 1970 at the RAF’s air base in Wildenrath to be part of its air force in Germany; another squadron was formed there two years later. The Harrier GR.1 was a fundamental part of British forces’ plan to counter a Soviet armoured invasion. The GR.1 version was relatively short lived as it was soon replaced by the pointy nosed Harrier GR.3 which featured more advanced ground attack sensors and ECM equipment. The bulk of GR,1s were upgraded to GR.3 standard during the mid 1970s. By 1980 the GR,1 was gone from frontline service entirely.