The Marine Corps has begun flying AV-8B Harrier jump-jets on airstrikes against Islamic militants in Iraq, officials announced.
The Harriers took off from the USS Essex, an amphibious assault ship stationed in the area in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, according to an Aug. 19 press release from the Corps.
They belong to the "Greyhawks" of Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM)-161 (Reinforced), the aviation combat element of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), the release states.
The aircraft struck multiple targets affiliated with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, in Anbar province earlier this week, according to press reports.
The Corps’ AV-8B Harrier, in service since the late 70s and early 80s, is a short-take-off-and-landing single engine jet able to launch from amphibs and perform close air support and armed reconnaissance missions, among other things. The aircraft is also capable of vertical take-off, making it a suitable option for at-sea deployments and missions.
The Harrier aircraft is nearing the end of its service life and performs a range of missions expected to be taken on by the Corps’ newly minted short-take-off-and-landing F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. The Corps' F-35B, the first of the F-35s to enter service, was just declared operational earlier this month.