McDonnell Douglas AV-8 Harrier II

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Type: Military

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Information on the AV-8 Harrier II

The McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II is a family of second-generation vertical/short takeoff and landing or V/STOL jet multirole aircraft of the late 20th century. British Aerospace rejoined the project in the early 1980s, and it has been managed by Boeing/BAE Systems since the 1990s.

Developed from the earlier Hawker Siddeley Harriers, it is primarily used for light attack or multi-role tasks, typically operated from small aircraft carriers. Versions are used by several NATO countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and the United States.

The aircraft is known as the AV-8B Harrier II in USMC service and the Harrier GR7/GR9 in RAF service. Though it shares the designation letter number with the earlier AV-8A Harrier, the AV-8B Harrier II was extensively redesigned by McDonnell Douglas. The AV-8A was a previous-generation Hawker Siddeley Harrier GR.1A procured for the US Marine Corps. Both models are commonly referred to as the Harrier Jump-jet.


The Harrier II is notable as an example of US-UK cooperation and of Cold War defense achievements. Of note is the U.S aid funding early development of the Hawker P.1127 under the Mutual Weapons Development Program (MWDP), and the salvaging of what was left of the AV-16 Advanced Harrier Program by McDonnell Douglas, making the second-generation family possible.

McDonnell Douglas had restarted its own program which was nearing production status when British Aerospace (BAe) rejoined the program in the 1980s. They then jointly produced the aircraft, and BAe developed second generation Harriers from the aircraft. By the 1990s McDonnell Douglas merged with Boeing, and BAe was merged into BAE Systems who went on to manage the family into the early 21st century.

The AV-8B had its direct origins in a joint British-U.S. project (Hawker-Siddeley and McDonnell Douglas) for a much-improved Harrier aircraft, the AV-16. However cost over-runs in engine development on the part of Rolls Royce and in the aircraft development caused the British to pull out of the program.
An Italian TAV-8B Harrier II aboard Giuseppe Garibaldi (551).
An Italian TAV-8B Harrier II aboard Giuseppe Garibaldi (551).

Interest remained in the U.S., so a less ambitious, though still expensive project was undertaken by McDonnell on their own catered to U.S. needs. Using things learned from AV-16 development, though dropping some things such as further Pegasus development, the development work continued leading to the AV-8B for the U.S. Marine Corps. The aircraft was centered on the Marines' need for a light ground attack airplane and focused on payload and range as opposed to speed. In the early 1980s, the British restarted development of their own second generation Harrier based on the U.S. design which led eventually to the GR.5.

The first two YAV-8B prototypes were converted from existing AV-8A airframes.


Aircraft were built by McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace (later BAE Systems), the latter at their Kingston & Dunsfold facilities in Surrey, in the UK. The factories were also home to the Hawker Hunter, and BAe Hawk T1.


Several variants of the Harrier are used by four countries' military forces. The Royal Air Force and Fleet Air Arm of the United Kingdom operate a number of variants and versions starting in the late 1980s, including the GR7/7A, GR9/9A, T10 and T12 versions. (see RAF Harrier II). The United States Marine Corps has operated the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B and TAV-8B since 1985. The Spanish Naval air wing (Arma Aerea De La Armada) operates the AV-8B+ and AV-8B, as well as a TAV-8B (leasing). The Italian Navy air wing (Aviazione per la Marina Militare) also uses the AV-8B+ and TAV-8B. Harrier variants can vary significantly depending on the exact model, even among a single country's aircraft.

AV-8B Harrier II

The first AV-8B Harrier IIs produced were commonly known as the "Day Attack" variant, and are no longer in service. Most were upgraded to Night Attack Harrier or Harrier II Plus standards, with the remainder being withdrawn from service.

Fielded in 1991, the Night Attack Harrier incorporated a Navigation Forward Looking Infrared camera (NAVFLIR). The cockpit was also upgraded, including compatibility with night vision goggles. Concurrent with the new version of the aircraft was introduced a more powerful Rolls Royce Pegasus II engine. It was originally intended to be designated AV-8D.

The Harrier II Plus is very similar to the Night Attack variant, with the addition of an APG-65 radar (the same as in early F/A-18 Hornets) in an extended nose, making it capable of operating advanced missiles such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM. Used by USMC, Spanish Navy, and Italian Navy.

AV-8C Harrier

An upgraded version developed from the AV-8A model as an interim pending delivery of the AV-8B. The airframe was not based on the AV-8B Harrier II.

TAV-8B Harrier II

A two-seat trainer version.

EAV-8B Matador II

Spanish Navy version.

Harrier GR-series (UK Variants)
* Harrier GR5?First RAF version of the BAE Harrier II.
* Harrier GR7?Avionics upgrade to GR5.
* Harrier GR7A?GR7 with more powerful engine.
* Harrier GR9?Avionics upgrade to GR7.
* Harrier GR9A?Avionics upgrade and more powerful engine.


* Italian Navy
- Gruppo Aerei Imbarcatti "The Wolves"

* Spanish Navy

United Kingdom
* Royal Air Force
- No. 1 Squadron
- No. IV Squadron
- No. 20 Squadron
- RAF SAOEU Strike Attack Operational Evaluation Unit
* Royal Navy
- 800 Naval Air Squadron
- 801 Naval Air Squadron

United States
* United States Marine Corps
- VMA-211
- VMA-214
- VMA-223
- VMA-231
- VMA-311
- VMA-513
- VMA-542
- VMAT-203

Source: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "AV-8 Harrier II".

AV-8 Harrier II Specifications

Crew: 1 pilot
Length: 46 ft 4 in (14.12 m)
Wingspan: 30 ft 4 in (9.25 m)
Height: 11 ft 8 in (3.55 m)
Wing area: 243.4 ft? (22.61 m?)
Airfoil: supercritical airfoil
Empty weight: 14,865 lb (6,745 kg)
Loaded weight: 22,950 lb (10,410 kg)
Max takeoff weight:
-Rolling: 31,000 lb (14,000 kg)
-Vertical: 20,755 lb (9,415 kg)
Powerplant: 1? Rolls-Royce Pegasus 105 vectored-thrust turbofan engine, 21,750 lbf (96.75 kN)
Maximum speed: .89 Mach (675 mph, 1,085 km/h) at sea level
Range: 1,200 nm (1,400 mi, 2,200 km)
Ferry range: 1,800 nm (3,300 km)
Rate of climb: 14,700 ft/min (4,485 m/min)
Wing loading: 94.29 lb/ft? (460.4 kg/m?)

Guns: 1? GAU-12U "Equalizer" 25 mm cannon (left pod) and 300 rounds of ammunition (right pod) (American, Spanish, Italian configuration)
Hardpoints: 7 with a capacity of 13,200 lb (STOVL) of stores, including iron bombs, cluster bombs, napalm canisters, laser-guided bombs, AGM-65 Maverick missiles, a LITENING targeting pod, up to four AIM-9 Sidewinder or similar-sized infrared-guided missiles. Radar equipped AV-8B+ variants can carry up to four AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles. An ongoing upgrade program is currently fitting airframes with wiring and software to employ 1760 bus based weapons ?smart weapons? (i.e.JDAM),

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