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AV-8B Harrier II

McDonnell Douglas / BAe

posted by Jiri Wagner

For a long time this was the only operational western VTOL aircraft. It is a small ground-attack aircraft. VTOL operation is achieved by the four swivelling nozzles of the R.R. Pegasus engine. The basic concepts dates back to 1960, but production still continues.

The type was adopted by the USMC as the AV-8. Later versions have enlarged wings, wing root extensions, and longer noses for additional electronics. In the various trials, demonstrations, and special exercises conducted, the AV-8B's high availability and its successful completion of operational objectives in highly restrictive environments confirmed that it could be effectively maintained and supported. It is from original british type Harrier.

The supportability of any weapon system can be illustrated by its performance over an extended period of time in terms of Mean Time Between Failures (MTBF) and Maintenance Man-hours per Flight Hour (MMH/FH). The AV-8B proved to be a supportable weapon system with performance data showed a steady improvement in the supportability factors throughout the life cycle of the aircraft.  Since the aircraft entered the inventory as a mature, off-shore weapons system, there were initial programmatical difficulties in provisioning which plagued the airplane with a high Not Mission Capable Supply (NMCS) rate. Indeed, through the years, the operationally ready rate improved and continued to improve to a rate that was favorable when compared to other first line aircraft. Logistics support continued to challenge us throughout the Day, Night Attack and Radar aircraft programs.

Now with an ongoing remanufacture program for selected Harriers in the inventory will provide new engines and radar, a Forward Looking Infrared Radar (FLIR), moving map and night vision goggles. These improvements will give the Harrier a day and night attack capability, and will extend the service life into the next century as well as greatly improving warfighting capability and logistics support ability. Today we one of the best mission ready aircraft in the Navy's arsenal.

General characteristics

Primary function Tactical strike platform, STOVL - Short-Take-Off-Vertical-Landing
Contractors McDonnell Douglas, British Aerospace
Propulsion One Rolls Royce F402-RR-408 turbofine engine
Thrust 23,830 lb 106 kN
Lenght 46.3 ft 14.12 m
Wingspan 30.3 ft 9.25 m
Height 11.6 ft 3.55 m
Wingarea 230 sq ft 21.37 sq m 
Weight empty 13,087 lb 5,847 kg
max. takeoff 31,000 lb 14,061 kg
Max. speed 665 mph 1,065 km/h
Range 2,417 miles 3,890 km
Ceiling 50,000 ft 15,240 m
Combat radius 172 miles 277 km
Crew One
Armament Seven external store stations: six wing stations for; AIM-9 Sidewinder and an assortment of air-to-ground weapons, external fuel tanks, and AGM-65 Maverick missiles; one centerline station for DECM pod or air-to-ground ordnance. A GAU-12 25MM six-barrel gun pod can be mounted on the centerline and has a 300 round capacity with a lead computing optical sight system (LCOSS) gunsight


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