McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II

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US AV-8B Harrier hovering

The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) AV-8B Harrier II is a single-engine ground-attack aircraft. It is the second generation of the Harrier Jump Jet family. It is capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing (V/STOL). The aircraft was designed in the late 1970s as an Anglo-American development of the British Hawker Siddeley Harrier, the first operational V/STOL aircraft. It can hover like a helicopter but can also fly like a jet at near supersonic speeds.[1] It is named after the a bird of prey.[2] It is primarily used on light attack or multi-role missions. These range from close air support of ground troops to armed reconnaissance. The AV-8B is used by the United States Marine Corps (USMC), the Spanish Navy, and the Italian Navy. A variant of the AV-8B, the British Aerospace Harrier II, was developed for the British military. Another is the TAV-8B, is a dedicated two-seat trainer.

The project that eventually led to the AV-8B's creation started in the early 1970s. It was a cooperative effort between the United States and United Kingdom (UK). it was aimed at working on solving the problems of the first-generation Harrier. Early efforts centered on a larger, more powerful Pegasus engine to improve the Harrier's performance. The UK dropped out of the project in 1975.[3]

Following the withdrawal of the UK, McDonnell Douglas extensively redesigned the earlier AV-8A Harrier to create the AV-8B. While retaining the general layout of its predecessor, the aircraft uses a new wing, an elevated cockpit, a redesigned fuselage, one extra hardpoint per wing, and other structural and aerodynamic changes. The aircraft is powered by an upgraded version of the Pegasus, which gives the aircraft its V/STOL ability. The AV-8B made its maiden flight in November 1981 and entered service with the USMC in January 1985. Later upgrades added a night-attack capability and radar. This resulted in the AV-8B(NA) and AV-8B Harrier II Plus, respectively. An enlarged version named Harrier III was also studied, but was not built. The UK, through British Aerospace, re-joined the improved Harrier project as a partner in 1981. After corporate mergers in the 1990s, Boeing and BAE Systems have jointly supported the program. Approximately 340 aircraft were produced in a 22-year production program that ended in 2003.

References[change | change source]

  1. "AV-8B HARRIER II". Military Advantage. Retrieved 11 November 2015.
  2. Searle, Adrian (29 June 2010). "Fiona Banner's toys for boys are a turn-on at Tate Britain". The Guardian. Archived from the original on 20 October 2013. Retrieved 21 October 2013. the Harrier is in any case named after a bird of prey.
  3. "McDonnell Douglas/British Aerospace AV-8B Harrier II Attack Fighter". Aerospaceweb.org. Retrieved 11 November 2015.