AV-8B Harrier II
McDonnell Douglas Aircraft
The AV-8B Harrier II is the U.S. military’s only short takeoff, vertical landing jet aircraft in current inventory. Originally flown in the late 1960s, the Harrier has undergone a series of improvements that have increased safety, range and lethality. The AV-8B is a key component of the Marine Corps’ “all STOVL force” concept, allowing Marines to be supported in austere conditions in expeditionary environments.
22,000 pounds of thrust enable the Harrier II to hover like a helicopter, and then blast forward like a jet at near-supersonic speeds. Like every aircraft in the Marine fleet, this aircraft is used for multiple missions, which include attacking and destroying surface and air targets, escorting helicopters, engaging in air-to-air defense, providing reconnaissance and applying offensive and defensive support with its arsenal of missiles, bombs and an onboard 25mm cannon. Offering the versatility to conduct almost any mission, the Harrier II provides the ideal blend of firepower and mobility to effectively counter enemies engaged by our ground forces.
The AV-8B V/STOL strike aircraft was designed to replace the AV-8A and the A-4M light attack aircraft. The Marine Corps requirement for a V/STOL light attack force has been well documented since the late 1950s. Combining tactical mobility, responsiveness, reduced operating cost and basing flexibility, both afloat and ashore, V/STOL aircraft are particularly well suited to the special combat and expeditionary requirements of the Marine Corps. The AV-8BII+ features the APG-65 radar common to the F/A-18, as well as all previous systems and features common to the AV-8BII.
The AV-8B will soon be replaced by the F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.