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4.3 out of 5 stars
Joint Force Harrier
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48 of 49 people found the following review helpful
on 1 September 2008
Joint Force Harrier is the personal story of Commander Ade Orchard the first Officer Commanding 800 Naval Air Squadron following its transition from the Sea Harrier FA2 to the Harrier GR7. Commander Orchard details the Squadrons highs and lows from standing up on 3rd April 2006, through a work up on HMS Illustrious, to deployment to the Afghan airbase of Khandahar, and goes on in depth to outline the trials, tribulations, and fears of a commanding officer, and his personnel on a front line ground attack squadron, in an all to real shooting war.

The book is a gripping read throughout; putting it down almost became a chore. Commander Orchard details in an easily digestible manner the preparations for, and the detail in which, every sortie is planned and executed, and the level of professionalism that is inherent in ensuring that the right target is accurately identified even in the heat of the battle, both by those in the air and those on the ground.

If you enjoy reading about military history, military aviation, just like the Harrier, or simply want to try to understand what the pressures and conditions in Afghanistan are like for the men and women that serve there, then in my opinion you really should add this fine book to your bookshelves, and I can assure that you will read it again and again.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on 10 September 2008
First of all I would like to thank Peter Thompson for his review which prompted me to purchase and read this account by Commander Ade Orchard on the part played by the Gr7 crews in the Afghan theatre of war.
It has been well written and is a documented account of the time spent by the Royal Navy on a land based, ground attack tour of duty.
This is a very educated read and comes without all the humerous anecdotes of life in the mess rooms and bunk houses. No accounts of wives, children or what they are missing back home.
This is what the reader wants to hear...scrambles to get airborne, pressure on crews to direct attacks at the right targets, life in the cockpit of a Harrier jump jet and what happens when the going gets tough and things go wrong....this hero stayed cool, calm and collected under immense pressures and it is an honour to have read his book.
Much like the pilots during WW2 they remain a cut above the rest and have a quality that few of us share.
A damm good read...this will become essential reading for many many years to come.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
on 27 November 2008
This is a first hand insight into the afghanistan war, from the eyes of a RN pilot. It is very well written, with Ade's sense of humour it makes for a thrilling book. I cannot reccomend this enough.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 29 December 2008
This book details the expolits of 800 Naval Air Squadron as it deployed to Kandahar air Base in 2006 in support of ISAF ground forces in Afghanistan.

Cdr Orchard, leading the Squadron, demonstrates the understated, professionalism that ensures British forces remain amongst the best in the world. The precautions taken by the aircrew and JTAC's to reduce the risk of colateral damage, death or injury to innocent civilians or friendly troops highlight their humanity.

The narrative style is fast moving and easy to read, the detailed maps, glossary and diagramatic picture of the Harrier GR7 complement the good selection of colour photographs supporting the text. Just a shame the the Mil Mi-26 Halo helicopter was so often referred to as a Mil Mi-24!

At a time when the very existance of a fixed wing force within the Fleet Air Arm is in doubt this book makes a great comparison with that of the previous generation of Naval Harrier pilots ('Sea Harrier over the Falklands' & 'Hostile Skies'). In addition, Cdr Orchard has donated his share of income from the sales of this book to the 'Combat Stress' charity and the Royal Navy Historic Flight. Recommended.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 November 2013
There has been a slew of first-hand accounts from the military in recent years; the new fad for publishers. Some are good, some are not so good. Neither professionalism in one's trade nor courage in the face of an enemy grants skill in writing. Having read a few, I suspect that this book benefits significantly from the collaboration of the co-author.

Whether I'm right or wrong, the result is a very readable account of a tour of Afghanistan. It's not, as one reviewer claims, "Boy's Own" stuff. What stands out, more than anything else, is a quiet pride in the ability & professionalism of the men under Cdr Orchard. Even more understated is his own determination to do the job as well he can. No jingoism, no drama, no hyperbole; just a determination to make sure the job is done as well as it can be. There's nothing in this that's especially new. If you're a reader of eye-witness military history, there's nothing startlingly original. Nevertheless, it's an enjoyable read & worth a place on your bookshelf.
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on 17 March 2013
An obscure conflict in an obscure part of our world is very nicely put into words by an experienced fighter pilot flying an extraordinary piece of 'kit' ; for the layman and initiated alike. Cdr. Ade Orchard places the reader in the tight and sophisticated cockpit of one of the most capable fighter-bombers in the wonderful country of Afghanistan. An intriguing insight into the harsh and demanding world of military operations of Operation Herrick which even now seems to go on and on and on...except without the Harrier as this jet was axed by the British government in 2010.
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21 of 28 people found the following review helpful
This is the story of the Harrier team based at Khandahar airport in Afghanistan. Written by Ade Orchard (with help from thriller writer and pilot James Barrington) It details life on the base and in the air, supporting troops under fire from the Taliban insurgents. The author is donating the profits from this book to a military charity, so if you only half fancy this book, buy it anyway.

The Harrier is an awesome aircraft which carries some serious ordinance and is critical in terms of responding quickly to support the ground forces that are in trouble. The squadron detachment to Afghanistan means being based at the airbase 100% of the time so it is quite an intense experience for the pilots and crews.

I am sorry to have to say I was slightly under whelmed with this one. There are a number of technical elements which some will enjoy, but in essence, the jet gets scrambled, flies to incident and drops ordinance onto target. Obviously considerable skill is needed, but it did not make for page turning excitement. Again, life on the base was generally just that - life on a military base. There were some elements that were interesting - the respect shown by the whole base as those who have fallen are airlifted out was very moving, an incident with a Health & Safety officer was amusing but not enough like this to really make me want to turn the next page.

Now, I've seen the other reviews and I know I am going to get slaughtered on this one, but I honestly did not find it gripped me in the way that, for instance, Ed Macey's Apache did. These are brave people doing a fantastic job and if you are interested in knowing what it is like to fly one of these beasts, buy this book, if you want to see what life confined on a base is like, buy this book, in fact as the profit goes to charity, buy it anyway. Just don't expect a pulsating thrill ride.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
If you like first hand recollections of aviation action then Joint Force Harrier pitches you into the forefront of today's 'Few'.

It is a book for the enthusiast, of which, thankfully, there are many. I fear it's not for those expecting derring-do as we might have expected from earlier front lines. In fact, since aerial combat has virtually disappeared, we are left with the technology of meting out a very large helping hand in times of war in countries most of us are never likely to visit.

That is not to underestimate the importance of such actions. Many have given their lives in the long toil to bring stability and, hopefully, democracy to countries where none of this would be available without the help (some may say, interference) of outside forces. Those outside forces include the Joint Ops Harriers, probably one of the most engaging aircraft to have been developed. The Harrier's grand role includes such variances as bringing in the first of the Beaujolais Nouveau in days gone by to today's - well, yesterday's - action in the Falklands where, indeed, aerial combat did take place, then to Iraq and on to Afghanistan where it did not.

Commander Orchard writes well with the help of his flying colleague, James Barrington. The book creates an atmosphere which gives the reader all the intense activity coupled with the more mundane aspects of flying a super cool jet and the 'office' work which goes on behind all the actions which are detailed in the book.

I sense in the book the disappointment experienced by most, if not all, fighter pilots that their role does not bring them into aerial combat any more. Even if there were enemy aircraft, it seems the variety of missiles now used would mean most pilots would never see their prey except on a screen and, even worse, as the author points out in a photo caption, the role of the remotely piloted aircraft is the way of the future, even if today's technology isn't quite up to speed as far as human contact is concerned. I am sure it will come, so maybe these guys today are really the 'Last of the Few'.

Enjoy the book before it really does become a historical reminder of the ability of both the RAF and the RN to deal with perceived threats to our well-being as well as the politician's inability to have a reliable and continuing belief in what is required both of and in our armed services.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 5 June 2009
A beautifully written book which holds your attention from first to last. More, it gets your heart beating as you fly in your Harrier along side Adrian Orchard. Never before have I read a combat book which puts you in the middle of the action. Exciting, informative, factual, what more can I say except "Go buy a copy". You won't regret it.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2008
An excellent book that will appeal to military historians and those just looking for a good, genuine read. The pace and detail is just right, a real human story.
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