seah.pngThe AV-8B is scheduled to remain in service until the introduction of replacement aircraft in 2015. Three variants of the aircraft are in service: the Day Attack, Night Attack, and Development of the revolutionary Harrier "jump-jet" began in the early 1960s. It was during this time when British planners began recognizing the benefits a vertical takeoff aircraft could have in reducing dependence on vulnerable runways and large, expensive aircraft carriers. Work on the Royal Air Force's Harrier GR.1, tailored for attack and reconnaissance roles, commenced in 1965. At the heart of the Harrier's vertical takeoff and landing capability was the Rolls-Royce Pegasus turbofan engine and a series of four vectored-thrust nozzles able to pivot through 110 degrees. Also utilizing a number of small reaction control jets, the Harrier demonstrated exceptional stability in hover and superb maneuverability in flight.
Though the Harrier's potential for use at sea was known by the time the RAF's GR.1 and GR.3 entered service, the Navy program suffered many delays due to political bickering. It was not until 1975 that the Sea Harrier project was finally approved. The two models were largely identical except that the Royal Navy Sea Harrier FRS.1 had a different nose enclosing a new radar. The Sea Harrier's cockpit was also raised higher to improve pilot visibility. av.png
Both types quickly proved their value during the Falkland Islands conflict with Argentina. The Air Force's GR.3 was used for ground attack while the Navy's FRS.1 provided air defense. Thanks to their maneuverability as well as better weapons and training, the Harriers performed well against their Argentinian adversaries. The Sea Harriers compiled a record of 21 kills versus no air-to-air losses, but two were shot down by ground fire and another four were lost to accidents. Four GR.3 planes were also lost for similar reasons. Despite their successes, the Harriers were never able to gain complete air superiority leaving the British fleet vulnerable to attack. Five Royal Navy ships were sunk by bombs or missiles launched by Mirage, Super Etendard, and Skyhawk aircraft. The Harriers also failed to disable the main airbase at Port Stanley which continued to pose a threat to British plans throughout the war.

The RAF's GR.1 and GR.3 were gradually retired, but the Royal Navy built on the Falklands experience with the improved Sea Harrier FA2 optimized for fighter/attack missions. This version introduced a better radar, new cockpit displays, and increased air-to-air weapon carriage for enhanced air superiority capability. The FA2 was also the first UK plane able to carry the American AMRAAM missile. This upgraded Sea Harrier model saw additional action in the Balkans before being removed from service in 2006. Many were surprised by the retirement since much of the fleet remained relatively young and F-35 replacements were not due to arrive until at least 2012. Nevertheless, the FA2 had become costly to maintain and was retired to focus resources on the more modern Harrier II.

Beyond the UK, the original Harrier also became an export success. This was due largely to the US Marine Corps buying a version of the GR.1/GR.3 called the AV-8A and India's purchase of an FRS.1 derivative. Though the Marine fleet was retired long ago in favor of the AV-8B, India continues to upgrade its Sea Harrier force for use on its aircraft carriers until the navalized Tejas becomes available. Spain also bought a version of the AV-8A for its navy, and these are now sporadically operated by Thailand on its lone aircraft carrier.

British Aerospace long tried to interest the British government in an improved Harrier with better aerodynamics and greater payload. Though the UK originally showed little interest, BAe eventually teamed with McDonnell Douglas in America to build the Harrier II. hrrcut.png

Data below for Harrier GR.3 and Sea Harrier F/A.2 where indicatedavh.png
Last modified 17 March 2012

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=61ZD8AQ_LZ4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rgf3682Y3m8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcGVqTXHyAY
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d1GyDPj03Lo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hWl7pN9aM8 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=owZIg9NtH5M
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_0dZr6kxP4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ONu_FneIWYA http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nVqMhB5eI00
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xb_u5vE7JJU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZKojZtappY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ne_LesK8Bbk
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-kDb99ftPlY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kekjCeJa-NU http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clC-kFzYJDQ
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xKXtPaSNH4 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WTTuBxKEDHY http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v5ic6LTkgfY

First Flight (GR.1) 28 December 1967
(AV-8A) August 1970
(FRS.1) 20 August 1978
(F/A.2) 19 September 1988
Service Entry (GR.1) April 1969
(FRS.1) April 1980


(F/A.2) March 2006


one: pilot



Wing Root unknown
Wing Tip unknown

Length (GR.3) 47.17 ft (14.37 m)
(F/A.2) 46.50 ft (14.17 m)
Wingspan 25.25 ft (7.60 m)
Height (GR.3) 11.25 ft (3.42 m)
(F/A.2) 12.17 ft (3.71 m)
Wing Area 201.1 ft² (18.68 m²)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty (GR.3) 12,200 lb (5,533 kg)
(F/A.2) 14,052 lb (6,374 kg)
Normal Takeoff unknown
Max Takeoff (GR.3) 26,000 lb (11,793 kg) [short-takeoff]
(F/A.2) 26,200 lb (11,884 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: 5,060 lb (2,295 kg)
external: 5,300 lb (2,404 kg)
Max Payload

8,000 lb (3,630 kg) [short takeoff]
5,005 lb (2,270 kg) [vertical takeoff]

Powerplant one Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk 106 vectored-thrust turbofan
Thrust 21,500 lb (95.64 kN)

Max Level Speed at altitude: Mach 1.25
at sea level: 735 mph (1,185 km/h), Mach 0.97
sea level cruise: 405-520 mph (650-835 km/h)
Initial Climb Rate 50,000 ft (15,240 m) / min
Service Ceiling 51,000 ft (15,545 m)
Range typical: 540 nm (1,000 km)
ferry: 1,800 nm (3,330 km)
g-Limits +7.8 / -4.2

Gun two 30-mm Aden gun pods (150 rds ea)
Stations five to seven external hardpoints
Air-to-Air Missile AIM-9 Sidewinder, AIM-120 AMRAAM, Sky Flash, Matra 550 Magic
Air-to-Surface Missile Wasp, Sea Eagle, AGM-84 Harpoon
Bomb WE177 nuclear, GBU-13/-18 Paveway laser-guided, 1,000-lb GP, BL.755 cluster, Matra 400-kg retarded bombs
Other rocket pods, ECM pods, recon camera pods, munition dispensers

GR.1 Production attack fighter for the RAF with a Pegasus Mk 101 engine; 118 built (including GR.1A and GR.3)
GR.1A Upgrade based on the GR.1 with a more powerful Pegasus Mk 102 engine; 41 modified and 17 built
T.2 Two-seat trainer for the RAF
T.2A Two-seat trainer incorporating the upgrades of the GR.1A
GR.3 Improved GR.1 with a Pegasus Mk 103 engine and more capable sensors such as a laser tracker
T.4 Two-seat trainer
T.4N Two-seat trainer for the Royal Navy
Mk 52 Two-seat demonstrator used by British Aerospace; 1 built
AV-8A (Mk 50) US version similar to the GR.1 but incorporating some improvements of the GR.3, purchased by the Marines and operated from amphibious assault ships; 102 built
TAV-8A (Mk 54) Two-seat trainer version of the AV-8A; 8 built
AV-8C Upgraded AV-8A with a strengthened airframe and updated communications equipment; 47 converted
AV-8S Matador
(Mk 53/55) Variant of the American AV-8A originally built for the Spanish Navy and later resold to Thailand
VA-1 Matador Spanish designation for the AV-8S
TAV-8S (Mk 54) Two-seat trainer version of the AV-8S, also resold to Thailand
VAE-1 Matador Spanish designation for the TAV-8S
AV-8B/GR.5/7/9 Improved models of the original Harrier known as the Harrier II
FRS.1 First production carrier-based Fighter/Reconnaissance/Strike model for the Royal Navy and based on the GR.3, 29 flew 2,376 sorties during the Falklands War shooting down 21 Argentine aircraft; 57 built for the UK
FRS.51 Version of the FRS.1 purchased by the Indian Navy; 23 built
T.60 Two-seat trainer for India based on the T.4N; 4 built
F/A.2 (FA2) Improved attack fighter for the Royal Navy with an improved radar, new cockpit displays, and increased payload; 18 built and 5 modified from FRS.1
T.8 T.4 trainers upgraded with FA2 instrumentation

KNOWN COMBAT RECORD: Falklands War (RAF, RN, 1982)
Bosnia - Operation Deliberate Force (RN, 1995)
Kosovo - Operation Allied Force (RN, 1999)

KNOWN OPERATORS: India (Indian Naval Air Squadron)
Spain, Arma Aérea de la Armada Española (Spanish Naval Aviation)
Thailand, Kong Tha Han Lur Thai (Royal Thai Navy Air Arm)
United Kingdom (Royal Air Force)
United Kingdom (Royal Navy)
United States (US Marine Corps)



Bishop, Chris, ed. The Encyclopedia of Modern Military Weapons: The Comprehensive Guide to Over 1,000 Weapon Systems from 1945 to the Present Day. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1999, p. 279, 345.
Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 212-213, British Aerospace (HS) Harrier.
Gunston, Bill and Spick, Mike. Modern Air Combat: The Aircraft, Tactics and Weapons Employed in Aerial Combat Today. NY: Crescent Books, 1983, p. 84-85.
Munro, Bob and Chant, Christopher. Jane's Combat Aircraft. Glasgow: Harper Collins Publishers, 1995, p. 62-65, British Aerospace Sea Harrier FRS.1, Sea Harrier F/A.2.
Paul Nann's Military Aviation Photo Gallery
Rendall, David. Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide, 2nd ed. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999, p. 26-27, BAe Sea Harrier F/A.Mk2, Sea Harrier FRS.Mk51.
Winchester, Jim. Military Aircraft of the Cold War. San Diego, CA: Thunder Bay Press, 2006, p. 46-47, British Aerospace Sea Harrier FRS.Mk 1
Radar/Night Attack Harrier. The Marine Corps is remanufacturing 72 day-attack aircraft into radar/night attack aircraft. The final projected inventory includes 36 day-attack, 56 night-attack, and 99 radar/night-attack aircraft.

Both Hawker-Siddley in the United Kingdom and McDonnell Douglas Aircraft in the United States who had become the American associate contractor, could see ways to improve the Harrier. In 1973, a joint advanced Harrier program was undertaken but the costs of both airplane and Rolls-Royce engine development led to abandonment of the proposed AV-16A advanced Harrier.

AV-8A Harrier I
Before it entered RAF service, the US Marine Corps evinced a major interest in the Harrier for attack missions, and procurement of Marine AV-8As was initiated. The Harrier entered service with the RAF and the U.S. Marines in the early seventies. It was followed in both services by a limited number of two-place trainer versions, designated TAV-8As for the Marines.

In 1982, after eleven years of AV-8A operational flying, including 55 peacetime aircraft losses, the Commandant of the time (Gen Robert Barrow) asked the Harrier community to address the serious problem of flight safety. The impetus for his concern was "a high mishap rate within the AV-8A community. anticipated continuing turbulence. and a pressing requirement to reduce the mishap rate in order to provide the assets needed for successful transition to the AV-8B." At the time, the community had a cumulative Class A rate of 39 per 100,000 flight hours. This caused decision-makers to question whether sufficient aircraft would be available to close the gap with the AV-8B, which was scheduled to begin introduction 2½ years later. The resulting "AV-8A Training/Safety Conference" reviewed mishap cause factors in an attempt to find trends and deficiencies which could be addressed to reduce pilot and airplane losses.

Injection of money to solve AV-8A unique hardware deficiencies was problematic given the funding emphasis for the new AV-8B at that time, so the conference focused on operational, training and other low cost solutions. Their recommendations included terminating night shipboard operations, flight demonstrations, and detachment deployments. (Only full squadrons should deploy, they said.) They also made major improvements to the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) syllabus and to the pilot selection/retention policies. They recommended supplementing maintenance departments with contractor support, increasing squadron manning, and front loading the supply system — all in an effort to improve aircraft availability and provide pilots with more flying time (15 sorties per month per pilot was the goal). Most recommendations were carried out, one major exception being the recommendation to stop detachment deployments. From implementation of the 1983 initiatives through the last flight of the AV-8A in 1987, the community improved its cumulative Class A rate to 19.5 per 100,000 flthrs - a 50% reduction.
AV-8B Harrier II
The T/AV-8B Harrier II Weapon System, from here on referred to as the AV-8B, with its superior capability for light attack and air-to-air missions, replaced the AV-8A/C and A-4M aircraft.

The AV-8B is a high performance, single-engine, single-seat, Vertical/Short Take-off and Landing (V/STOL) attack aircraft. It was introduced to the Fleet Marine Forces (FMF) in January 1985 after a successful prototype demonstration and Full Scale Development Program. Consistent with the long-standing Marine Corps vision of attaining an all V/STOL amphibious force, the AV-8B replaced both the A-4M and AV-8A/C — the light attack portion of the Marine Tactical Aircraft (TACAIR) force.

Building on the technical accomplishments of the joint program, McDonnell evolved a revised design configuration, incorporating a composite structure wing, which promised most of the AV-16's capabilities without a new Pegasus development. McDonnell Douglas arrived at the current AV-8B wing-nozzle-flap configuration, which resulted in an increase of more than 6,000 lb of lift beyond that produced by the AV-8A arrangement. The AV-8B wing design has a thicker wing with better performance at high speeds, better fuel consumption, and provides an increase in internal fuel capacity of over 40 percent. Following full-scale wind-tunnel tests and flight and structural test confirmation with two YAV-8B prototypes, the AV-8B entered full scale production as the Harrier II. The first AV-8B squadron stood up in 1985.

The AV-8B was designed primarily to improve upon the performance and handling qualities of the AV-8A/C. It was a new design, with composite structures, a bigger wing, higher engine thrust and reliability, and state-of-the-art avionics; however, it did retain the fundamental single-engine, vectored exhaust nozzle configuration of its predecessor. Where possible, and within tight budgetary and schedule constraints, the prime contractors were also challenged to improve reliability and maintainability (R&M). At the time R&M was a much stronger design driver in the ongoing F/A-18 development program.

As hoped, the flying qualities, performance and warfighting capabilities of the AV-8B proved to be dramatic improvements over those of the AV-8A/C. Although hampered by some significant susceptibility and vulnerability deficiencies, the AV-8B, with its flexible basing, high sortie generation capability and accurate weapon system acquitted itself admirably under combat conditions in the Persian Gulf. However, by the end of 1991, the cumulative (non-combat) mishap rate was disappointingly high at more than 14 per 100,000 flight hours for its first seven operational years.

Early in the Harrier II's career, pilot error and material failures were the major factors in the mishap story; 1990 alone saw the loss of 11 airplanes and two pilots. Of the 15 contributing cause factors in those mishaps, 11 were in the pilot/material categories.

By 1998, USMC Harrier operations (including Naval Air Systems Command) had resulted in 17 fatalities, one permanent disability and 68 AV-8B aircraft lost. With a cumulative Class A mishap rate of 12.1 per 100,000 flight hours, the AV-8B has consistently outpaced all USMC aircraft types in this statistic. It has been the single predominant contributor to the overall Marine aviation mishap story.

AV-8B -408A Engine Upgrade

In FY93 a retrofit program was initiated to replace the Rolls Royce F402-RR-406 Engine in older AV-8B Aircraft with the upgraded F402-RR-408 Engine, which includes a Digital Engine Control System. These retrofits have a planned completion date in FY03. The F402-RR-408 Engine, which powers the Trainer, Night Attack, and Radar aircraft, provides an additional 2000 pounds of thrust and increases the Mean Time Between Engine HSI from 500 to 1000 hours. The F402-RR-408 Engine incorporates modular type design changes in the major engine sections to increase performance, reliability, and maintainability.

The introduction of the -408A engine represented another major safety improvement, arguably as significant as the introduction of the AV-8B itself. The -408 engine provides increased thrust as well as extended life, enhanced reliability of components and important maintainability/supportability features. The engine is designed to exploit the advantages of a modular maintenance concept, Reliability Centered Maintenance (RCM) and an Engine Monitoring System (EMS).

As of 1998 the mishap record of the -408A core engine was impressive. By 1998, approximately 50% of the Marine Corp's single-seat AV-8Bs and six two-seat TAV-8B's were configured with the -408A engine. A Department of Defense (DoD) decision to retrofit all of the TAV-8Bs with the -408A not only provides increased thrust - thereby providing a larger margin for safety - but improves maintainability within the FRS. It also provides an opportunity to establish a common engine for the entire Harrier community. However, some of the important planned maintenance and logistics support features of the new engine had yet to be realized. The EMS was initially only partially fielded, with no usable ground stations for retrieval of data available at the squadron level, and neither the RCM nor the modular maintenance programs had been adequately funded.

T/AV-8B Harrier Trainer Aircraft

The Trainer Aircraft is a fully functional Day Attack Aircraft and can be flown independently from the front seat, or assisted from the back seat. The Trainer Aircraft is used exclusively by the Training Activity.

VMAT-203, MCAS Cherry Point, is the Fleet Readiness Squadron (FRS) Model Manager for aircrew training of the AV-8B. Marine Aircraft Group (MAG)-14 designated VMAT-203 as an assistant Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization (NATOPS) Model Manager for AV-8B to assist the AV-8B NATOPS Model Manager. AV-8B courseware and TDs have been updated to include the Night Attack and Radar aircraft. AV-8B Pilot training is conducted per the Aviation Training and Readiness Manual. Pilots receive AV-8B familiarization, ground training, and approximately sixty percent of their combat training at the FRS. Pilots continue on to their permanent squadrons to complete combat and qualifications training. Refresher and modified refresher, Category 3 and 4 Pilot training is conducted depending on how long the Pilot has been without AV-8B proficiency training at VMAT-203 FRS, MCAS Cherry Point, and at MAG-13, MCAS Yuma, Arizona.

AV-8B Harrier Night Attack (NA) Aircraft

Introduction of the Night Attack Aircraft in September 1989 significantly enhanced the operating capabilities of the AV-8B by projecting Visual Flight Rules both day and night. In the early 1990s, the Marine Corps installed night capability on 66 of the day-attack version of the AV-8Bs and installed both night capability and an air-to-ground radar on an additional 28 day-attack aircraft.

The Night Attack Harrier improved upon the original AV-8B design through incorporation of a Navigation, Forward-Looking InfraRed (NAVFLIR) sensor, a moving map, night vision goggle compatibility, and a higher performance engine.

AV-8B Harrier II Plus Radar Aircraft

The Radar Aircraft, also known as the Harrier II Plus, was introduced in July 1993 as the newest production AV-8B, achieving Initial Operating Capability in August 1997.

The current Radar/Night Attack Harrier, or Harrier II+, has all the improvements of the Night Attack aircraft plus the AN/APG-65 multi-mode radar. The fusion of night and radar capabilities allows the Harrier to be responsive to the MAGTF's needs for expeditionary, night and adverse weather, offensive air support. The AN/APG-65(V)2 tactical airborne radar system is based on existing specifications for F/A-18 Aircraft; it provides the AV-8B multi-target tracking capability and the ability to perform air-to-air and air-to surface weapons delivery in conditions of marginal visibility, day or night.

In the Radar Aircraft, the AN/APG-65(V)2 Radar System is based on the existing specifications for F/A-18 Aircraft, but tailored for AV-8B missions. Current AV-8B specifications for the radar include a downsized antenna, two modified Shop Replaceable Assemblies (SRA), and commonality with existing items to the maximum extent without compromising performance or mission reliability. The radar modes originally developed in the F/A-18 AN/APG-65(V)2 Radar System were retained, and provide the Radar Aircraft, in conjunction with the Radar Aircraft's night-attack systems, extended tracking capabilities to perform air-to-air and air-to-surface operations in marginal visibility conditions, day or night. The AN/APG-65(V)2 Radar is a tactical airborne radar system developed by Hughes, Inc.

To remain responsive to fleet needs, older Day Attack AV-8Bs are being remanufactured to the Radar/Night Attack Harrier II+ standard. Plans called for 72 Harriers to undergo remanufacture through FY 2001, reusing major assemblies and components of the Day Attack aircraft in combination with new production structure, systems, and engines. In addition, the Marine Corps was considering remanufacture of an additional 24 aircraft, to be completed by 2003.
The ongoing "remanufacture" program, in which 72 Day Attack aircraft from the existing inventory are being rebuilt to the Radar/ Night Attack standard, extends the service life of these Harrier aircraft into the new century, and greatly improves their warfighting capabilities. Existing Harriers are also being upgraded through the use of commerical off-the-shelf (COTS) technology. The Open Systems-Common Architecture program will replace the existing Harrier mission computer with a COTS system that is affordable and easily upgraded and maintained.
https://acecombat.wikia.com/wiki/AV-8B_Harrier_II https://acecombat.wikia.com/wiki/AV-8B_Harrier_II_Plus https://acecombat.wikia.com/wiki/Sea_Harrier_FA.2
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