In 1975 Guatemala was in the grip of a bloody civil war and for the British garrison in neighbouring Belize there was a genuine fear that at the least the conflict would spill over the border and at worst a full scale invasion by Guatemalan forces would take place. To bolster the resident British Army garrison, a detachment of six Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1As from No. 1 Squadron RAF was deployed to Ladyville International Airport in November 1975 as a flag-waving gesture to discourage Guatemalan forces. They returned to the UK a few months later when the threat appeared to have subsided but in June 1977 the Harriers were back, now in their upgraded GR.3 form, and this time they would stay until 1993 by which time the GR.3s had given way to the second generation GR.7.
The aircraft operated under the guise of 1417 Flight with aircraft and crews rotated from frontline Harrier squadrons usually based in the UK and Germany. It was a popular posting with pilots due to the lack of restrictions and that it counted as a combat deployment which improved promotion prospects. Although combat with the Guatemalan Army never erupted the situation was extremely volatile and the flying was intense. There were several accidents over the years including one aircraft being brought down from crashing in to a Vulture! The Harriers did however show Britain’s determination to defend Belize and so achieved their goal.