Max Q wrote:
I’ve read the Hawk interceptor idea turned out to be impractical
It had to be ‘led’ everywhere by a proper fighter with a radar and couldn’t keep up with its escort either
More trouble than it was worth
It was never really clear if a touch of morale boosting and politics was involved, the idea came about not after Thatcher was elected, she had attacked the predecessor Callaghan government for neglecting defence, though they had started raising spending in their last two years. Whereas her government would soon institute cuts so deep they would be a major factor what led that Junta in Argentina in it's reckless, deadly adventure.
Originally, it's likely that the shadow Hawk squadrons would have had a wartime role in deploying to bolster ground attack in RAF Germany, in a similar fashion to the Luftwaffe Alpha Jets.
In delivering 30mm fire, rockets, 1000lb and like the Alpha Jets, BL755 Cluster Bombs.
There was apparently, some vague plans in the late 70's to use the still decent number of Hawker Hunters in the advanced training role, to support the interceptors.
Like the Hawk however, it lacked radar (save for a basic ranging one), though it had those 4 x 30mm, while some export customers did wire their Hunters with AIM-9s, Oman, Swiss AF and I think Singapore, pretty sure that no RAF ones were done.
So it might not have been an entirely new idea.
Luckily we never got to find out how useful it would or would not have been, I'll say this though, another famous British jet by Hawkers, that had high subsonic performance, armed with 30mm and AIM-9L, did prove it's worth with no other 'proper' interceptors to work with. Many had thought the aircraft a bit of a joke, more a gimmick than a proper combat aircraft.
Weren't they proved wrong?
And the most shocked of all? After the Cold War we found that that was the Soviets.
While the Sea Harrier did of course have a modern radar/weapon system, in it's initial form, the Blue Fox, it was a modified Sea Spray as fitted to the Navy Lynx choppers, for over-water surface search and guiding the Sea Skua ASM.
Modified enough in the Sea Harrier's designed role, to detect shadowing Soviet bombers/MPA's and swat them. (Lookdown/shootdown would have to wait for the Blue Vixen /AIM-120 in the later FA.2 version).
In combat, in plenty of cases, AD Destroyers vectored them to targets, in many others though, kills were from visual ID, often over land.
How close would a low flying A-4 or Dagger (the Mirages having pissed off after coming off worse early on), be to intercepting, bringing down. an AS-4, or AS-5 missile? Or a SU-24 heavily laden?