McDonnell Harrier II AV-8B "1978"

The McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) AV-8B Harrier II is a single-engine ground-attack aircraft that constitutes the second generation of the Harrier Jump Jet family, capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing (V/STOL).

McDonnell Harrier II AV-8B "1978"

Role V/STOL ground-attack aircraft
National origin United States / United Kingdom
Manufacturer McDonnell Douglas / British Aerospace
Boeing / BAE Systems
First flight YAV-8B: 9 November 1978
AV-8B: 5 November 1981
Introduction January 1985
Status In service
Primary users United States Marine Corps / Italian Navy
Spanish Navy
Produced 1981–2003
Number built AV-8B: 337 (excluding the YAV-8B)
Developed from Hawker Siddeley Harrier
Variants British Aerospace Harrier II



McDonnell Harrier II AV-8B "1978"

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McDonnell Harrier II AV-8B "1978"

The McDonnell Douglas (now BoeingAV-8B Harrier II is a single-engine ground-attack aircraft that constitutes the second generation of the Harrier Jump Jet family, capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing (V/STOL). The aircraft is primarily employed on light attack or multi-role missions, ranging 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, while another, 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 as a cooperative effort between the United States and United Kingdom, aimed at addressing the operational inadequacies of the first-generation Hawker Siddeley Harrier. Early efforts centered on a larger, more powerful Pegasus engine to dramatically improve the capabilities of the Harrier. 

Douglas AV-8B Design

The AV-8B Harrier II is a subsonic attack aircraft of metal and composite construction that retains the basic layout of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier, with horizontal stabilizers and shoulder-mounted wings featuring prominent anhedral (downward slope). The aircraft is powered by a single Rolls-Royce Pegasus turbofan engine, which has two intakes and four synchronized vectorable nozzles close to its turbine. Two of these nozzles are located near the forward, cold end of the engine and two are near the rear, hot end of the engine. This arrangement contrasts with most fixed-wing aircraft, which have engine nozzles only at the rear. The Harrier II also has smaller valve-controlled nozzles in the nose, tail, and wingtips to provide control at low airspeeds.[63]

The AV-8B is equipped with one centerline fuselage and six wing hardpoints (compared to four wing hardpoints on the original Harrier),[64] along with two fuselage stations for a 25 mm GAU-12 cannon and ammunition pack.[65][66] These hardpoints give it the ability to carry a total of 9,200 lb (4,200 kg) of weapons, including air-to-airair-to-surface, and anti-ship missiles, as well as unguided and guided bombs.

  • Gruppo Aerei Imbarcati (1991–present)
  • 9a Escuadrilla Aeronaves (1987–present)[153]
 United States

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McDonnell/Douglas AV-8B HArrier II (1978)

Spain, already using the AV-8S Matador, became the first international operator of the AV-8B by signing an order for 12 aircraft in March 1983. Designated VA-2 Matador II by the Spanish Navy (Armada Española), this variant is known as EAV-8B by McDonnell Douglas. Pilot conversion took place in the U.S. On 6 October 1987, the first three Matador IIs were delivered to Naval Station Rota.The new aircraft were painted in a two-tone matt grey finish, similar to U.S. Navy aircraft, and deliveries were complete by 1988


  • Crew: 1 pilot
  • Length: 46 ft 4 in (14.12 m)
  • Wingspan: 30 ft 4 in (9.25 m)
  • Height: 11 ft 8 in (3.55 m)
  • Empty weight: 13,968 lb (6,340 kg)
  • Gross weight: 22,950 lb (10,410 kg)
  • Powerplant: 1 × Rolls-Royce Pegasus F402-RR-408 (Mk 107) vectored-thrust turbofan, 23,500 lbf (105 kN) thrust 
  • Maximum speed: 585 kn (673 mph, 1,083 km/h)
  • Maximum speed: Mach 0.9
  • Range: 1,200 nmi (1,400 mi, 2,200 km)
  • Combat range: 300 nmi (350 mi, 556 km)
  • Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,100 mi, 3,300 km)
  • Rate of climb: 14,700 ft/min (75 m/s)
  • Wing loading: 94.29 lb/sq ft (460.4 kg/m2)
  • Thrust/weight: 0.948

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On 27 July 2014, USS Bataan began deploying USMC AV-8Bs over Iraq to provide surveillance of Islamic State (IS) forces. Surveillance operations continued after the start of Operation Inherent Resolve against IS militants. In early September 2014, a USMC Harrier from the 22nd MEU struck an IS target near the Haditha Dam in Iraq, marking the first time a USMC unit dropped ordnance in the operation.

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