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AV-8 Harrier II

The AV-8B Harrier II, is a second generation, vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) light-attack jet aircraft utilized by the United States Marine Corps, Royal Air Force, Spanish Armada[?] and Italian navy[?]. The primary mission of the AV-8B is to provide responsive close air support for the ground forces. This single-piloted, advanced V/STOL aircraft can operate from short fields, forward sites, roads and surface ships providing minimum response time to targets.

April 7th 2003: an AV-8B Harrier takes off from on board the assault ship USS Nassau, to engage targets over Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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Three AV-8B squadrons stationed approximately 40 miles from the Kuwaiti border, were the most forward deployed tactical strike aircraft during Operation Desert Storm and operated from relatively unprepared sites. One AV-8B squadron and one six-aircraft detachment operated off the landing helicopter ship USS Nassau[?] in the Persian Gulf during Operation Desert Storm. The average turnaround time during the ground war surge was 23 minutes. In the recent Iraq campaign, the Harrier II saw extensive usage by both the USMC and RAF. USMC Harriers were based on two USMC amphbious assualt ships, USS Bataan (LHD-5)[?] and USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD-6). Each carried 24 Harriers, about four times their normal complement of fixed wing aircraft, and tried out the long dormant secondary purpose of the LHD's and LHA's, that of a small aircraft carrier, or sea control ship. RAF Harriers on the other hand were based ashore in Kuwait. Two detatchments from RAF Cottesmore[?] were sent to the region, with one known to have been based at the al Jaber[?] airbase in Kuwait, and the other at a so far undisclosed location. A total of 23 RAF Harriers took part in the campaign at one point or another.

The current AV-8B Remanufacture Program converts older AV-8B day attack aircraft to the most recent production radar/night attack configuration. This radar-equipped version of the AV-8B, called the AV-8B+, became operational in the summer of 1994.


  • AV-8B
  • AV-8B+ - AV-8B with radar allowing firing of radar guided air-to-air missiles
  • Harrier GR5[?] - First RAF version of Harrier II
  • Harrier GR7[?] - Avionics upgrade to GR5
  • Harrier GR7A[?] - GR7 with more powerful engine
  • Harrier GR9[?] - Avionics upgrade to GR7
  • Harrier GR9A[?] - Both avionics upgrade and more powerful engine fitted

General Characteristics

  • Primary Function: Support ground forces in amphibious or land operations
  • Contractor: Boeing Aircraft Corp.
  • Cost: Remanufactured aircraft at a cost of US$21.6 million each.
  • Propulsion: One Rolls Royce F402-RR-408
  • Length: 46 feet 4 inches (14.1 meters)
  • Wingspan: 30 feet 4 inches (9.2 meters)
  • Height: 11 feet 9 inches (3.5 meters)
  • Weight: 12,500 pounds (5.625 kg) empty; 29,750 pounds (13,400 kg) max gross take-off
  • Speed: 547 knots (629 miles, 1008 km, per hour)
  • Ceiling: 50,000 feet
  • Armament: Wing points for AIM-9 Sidewinder and an assortment of air-to-ground weapons and AGM-65 Maverick missiles
  • Crew: One
  • Date Deployed: January 1985

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