Only 40 percent of the Royal
Navy's 48 Harrier pilots are qualified to do night landings ("night traps") in
their vertical takeoff aircraft. That's
because most of the 24 Harrier aircraft are assigned to supporting British
troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, or training pilots who are headed for those
places. While the pilots miss the carrier operations, they are glad to have an
opportunity to operate in a combat zone. Over the last half century, most European
combat pilots have gone through an entire 20-30 year career without ever having
been in combat.
the Harrier pilots will get back to carrier operations, and train to qualify
again for night landings. In 2015, the Harriers will start getting replaced by
the new F-35B.