The British-built Kestrel was a prototype Vertical/Short TakeOff and Landing (VSTOL) aircraft successfully tested in the 1960s. An improved version, known as the Harrier, became the world's first operational VSTOL fighter when it entered Royal Air Force (RAF) service in 1969.
The first Kestrel began flight trials in 1961 in Britain. The next year, the United Kingdom, US, and the Federal Republic of Germany ordered nine aircraft for combined testing by those countries' representatives. A joint evaluation squadron, which included USAF pilots, conducted Kestrel trials in 1965.
Six of these trial aircraft came to the United States where the US armed forces conducted additional testing. Although the US Air Force did not order it, the US Marine Corps and RAF operated the follow-on Harrier for several decades.
The Kestrel on display was delivered to the Museum from Edwards Air Force Base, California, in 1970.
Engine: Bristol Siddeley Pegasus 5 of 15,200 lbs. thrust
Weight: 15,500 lbs. maximum
Maximum speed: 650 mph
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