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The AV-8B V/STOL strike aircraft was designed to replace the AV-8A and the A-4M light attack aircraft. The Marine Corps requirement for a V/STOL light attack force has been well documented since the late 1950's. Combining tactical mobility, responsiveness, reduced operating cost and basing flexibility, both afloat and ashore, V/STOL aircraft are particularly well-suited to the special combat and expeditionary requirements of the Marine Corps. The AV-8BII+ features the APG-65 Radar common to the F/A-18, as well as all previous systems and features common to the AV-8BII. The mission of the VMA STOVL squadron is to attack and destroy surface and air targets, to escort helicopters, and to conduct other such air operations as may be directed. Specific tasks of the AV-8B HARRIER II include:
- Conduct close air support using conventional and specific weapons.
- Conduct deep air support, to include armed reconnaissance and air interdiction, using conventional and specific weapons.
- Conduct offensive and defensive antiair warfare. This includes combat air patrol, armed escort missions, and offensive missions against enemy ground-to-air defenses, all within the capabilities of the aircraft.
- Be able to operate and deliver ordnance at night and to operate under instrument flight conditions.
- Be able to deploy for extended operations employing aerial refueling.
- Be able to deploy to and operate from carriers and other suitable seagoing platforms, advanced bases, expeditionary airfields, and remote tactical landing sites.
Operation Desert Storm in 1991 was highlighted by expeditionary air operations performed by the AV-8B. The Harrier II was the first Marine Corps tactical strike platform to arrive in theater, and subsequently operated from various basing postures. Three squadrons, totaling 60 aircraft, and one six-aircraft detachment operated ashore from an expeditionary airfield, while one squadron of 20 aircraft operated from a sea platform. During the ground war, AV-8Bs were based as close as 35 nautical miles (40.22 miles) from the Kuwait border, making them the most forward deployed tactical strike aircraft in theater. The AV-8B flew 3,380 sorties for a total of 4,083 flight hours while maintaining a mission capable rate in excess of 90%. Average turnaround time during the ground war surge rate flight operations was 23 minutes.
Contractor: McDonnell Douglas Aircraft (Airframe Prime), Rolls Royce (Engine Prime)
Power Plant: TAV-8B/AV-8B Day Attack (DA): One Rolls Royce Pegasus F402-RR-406 turbofan engine with approximately 20,280 pounds of thrust AV-8B Night Attack (NA)/AV-8B Radar: One Rolls Royce Pegasus F402-RR-408A turbofan engine with approximately 22,200 pounds of thrust
Accommodations AV-8B DA/NA/Radar Aircraft: Pilot only
TAV-8B Trainer: Two seats
Maximum airspeed: 550 KCAS
Range greater than 142 nautical miles high speed/low altitude combat radius:
Maximum range: 900 nautical miles
Countermeasures: Not applicable
Armament: One fuselage-mounted 25 mm gun system Standard Air-to-Ground (A/G) load: Six Mk 82, 500 pound bombs
Standard Air-to-Air (A/A) load: Four AIM-9L/M Sidewinder missiles Provisions for carrying up to 9,000 pounds of ordnance on seven stations
Mission and Capabilities: The AV-8B single seat Vertical/Short Takeoff and Land (V/STOL) aircraft is the primary close air support/intermediate range intercept/attack mission fixed-wing aircraft for the USMC and the Spanish and Italian navies.
The AV-8B can carry and deliver an assortment of conventional stores such as the Mk 83 1,000 pound GP bomb, GBU-12 500 pound LGB, GBU-16 1,000 LGB, CBU-99/100 Cluster Bomb Units, and 2.75" and 5" rockets.
The NA configuration includes: night vision goggle-compatible cockpit controls and displays, a wide-field-of-view HUD, a Navigation Forward Looking Infrared (NAVFLIR) system, a Digital Map Unit (DMU), and an Angle Rate Bombing System (ARBS) with laser spot tracker, which provides first pass day or night target strike capability at low altitude/high speed.
The Radar aircraft retains all night attack capability but integrates the AN/APG-65 radar system to extend the tracking capabilities of the aircraft for A/G delivery and A/A defense modes. V/STOL capability allows the AV-8B to be deployed with ground units using amphibious shipping and/or forward basing for rapid close air support response.
Program Summary: All three variants of the AV-8B are in service with the USMC (deployed in WestPac and the Mediterranean). The Spanish Navy has DA/Radar AV-8Bs. The Italian Navy has Radar AV-8Bs only. The U.S., Italy, and Spain are partners in a collaborative international program. The original DA AV-8B was replaced by the NA variant in 1990, which incorporated the F402-RR-408A engine and expanded night fighting systems such as NAVFLIR, DMU, night vision goggle capability, and wide-field-of-view HUD. In 1993, the Radar AV-8B was fielded with the full night fighting capability and an AN/APG-65 Radar set to improve A/G and A/A tactical effectiveness.
In 1994, the U.S. began a remanufacturing process to convert DA AV-8Bs to the Radar configuration (REMAN); deliveries began in 1996. Currently, a NA/Radar AV-8B upgrade program is underway to incorporate an Automatic Target Handoff System (ATHS) and Global Positioning System (GPS) capability into the aircraft. ATHS allows direct digital target/mission data exchange between the pilot and ground units. GPS integration improves navigational and weapons delivery accuracy.
The AV-8B has seen service in the Persian Gulf (Desert Storm), Somalia (both U.S. and Italian AV-8Bs), and Bosnia (peacekeeping operations). A total of 51 Radar Aircraft are authorized for procurement by the U.S., Italy, and Spain. The U.S. has a planned procurement/delivery program for 73 REMAN AV-8Bs (FY 1996 - 2002).
Wing Span 9.25 m
Length overall (flying attitude)
AV-8B 5.58 m
TAV-8B 15.32 m
GR. Mks 5/7 14.36 m
T. Mk 10 15.79 m
Height overall 3.55 m
Tailplane span 4.24 m
Outrigger wheel track 5.18 m
Wings, excl LERX, gross 21.37 m2
LERX (total): Pegasus 11-21 0.81 m2
Pegasus 11-61 1.24 m2
100 percent 1.39 m2
Ailerons (total) 1.15 m2
Trailing-edge flaps (total) 2.88 m2
Ventral fixed strakes (total) 0.51 m2
Ventral retractable fence (LIDs) 0.24 m2
Ventral airbrake 0.42 m2
Fin 2.47 m2
Rudder, excl tab 0.49 m2
Tailplane 4.51 m2
WEIGHTS AND LOADINGS(Single-Seaters, Except Where Indicated:
Operating weight empty (including pilot and used fuel)
AV-8B 6,336 kg
GR. Mk 7 7,050 kg
Internal only 3,519 kg
Internal and external 7,180 kg
Maximum external stores
Pegasus 11-61 6,003 kg
Pegasus 11-21/Mk 105* 4,899 kg
Maximum useful load (include fuel, stores, weapons, ammunition and water injection for engine)
Vertical takeoff Approximately 3,062, kg
STO More than 7,710 kg
Basic flight design gross weight for 7g operation 10,410 kg
Maximum T-O weight
435 meters STO 14,061 kg S/L VTO, ISA:
AV-8B/Pegasus 11-61 9,342 kg
GR. Mk 7 8,700 kg
S/L VTO, 32°C 8,142 kg
Design maximum landing weight 11,340 kg
Maximum vertical landing weight 9,043 kg 205 kg less in TAV-8B
Maximum mach number in level flight
At S/L 875 knots
At altitude 0.98
STOL takeoff run at maximum takeoff weight:
ISA 435 m
At 32° c 518 m
Operational radius with external loads shown:
Short takeoff (366 m, 12 Mk 82 Snakeye Bombs, internal fuel, 1 hour loiter) 90 nautical miles Hi-lo-hi, short take off (366 m, seven Mk 82 Snakeye Bombs, two 300 US gallon external fuel tanks no loiter 594 nautical miles Deck launch intercept mission, two AIM-9 missiles and two external fuel tanks 627 nautical miles Unrefueled ferry range Tanks dropped 1,965 nautical miles Tanks retained 1,638 nautical miles Combat air patrol endurance at 100 nautical miles from base. 3 hr.
"G" force limits +8/-3