McDonnell Douglas / BAE AV-8B Harrier II (Late Version) . Upgraded AV-8B Harrier II model reflecting late-life upgrades performed to non-Plus remanufactured airframes and modern two tone grey camoflauge scheme. .
In 1982, after eleven years of AV-8A operational flying, including 55 peacetime aircraft losses, the Commandant of the time asked the Harrier community to address the serious problem of flight safety.
The reason for his concern was "a high mishap rate within the AV-8A community' anticipated continuing turbulence' and a pressing requirement to reduce the mishap rate in order to provide the assets needed for successful transition to the AV-8B."
Left side view of the model. The aircraft has been upgraded with the additional IR sensor blister on the top of the nose, and the chaff/flare dispensers have been added to the spine of the aircraft on either side of the base of the vertical stabilizer.
The AV-8B is a high performance, single-engine, single-seat, Vertical/Short Take-off and Landing (V/STOL) attack aircraft. It was introduced to the Fleet Marine Forces (FMF) in January 1985 after a successful prototype demonstration and Full Scale Development Program. Consistent with the long-standing Marine Corps vision of attaining an all V/STOL amphibious force, the AV-8B replaced both the A-4M and AV-8A/C -- the light attack portion of the Marine Tactical Aircraft (TACAIR) force.
The AV-8B was designed primarily to improve upon the performance and handling qualities of the AV-8A/C. It was a new design, with composite structures, a bigger wing, higher engine thrust and reliability, and state-of-the-art avionics; however, it did retain the fundamental single-engine, vectored exhaust nozzle configuration of its predecessor. Where possible, and within tight budgetary and schedule constraints, the prime contractors were also challenged to improve reliability and maintainability (R&M). At the time R&M was a much stronger design driver in the ongoing F/A-18 development program.
As hoped, the flying qualities, performance and warfighting capabilities of the AV-8B proved to be dramatic improvements over those of the AV-8A/C. Although hampered by some significant susceptibility and vulnerability deficiencies, the AV-8B, with its flexible basing, high sortie generation capability and accurate weapon system acquitted itself admirably under combat conditions in the Persian Gulf. However, by the end of 1991, the cumulative (non-combat) mishap rate was disappointingly high at more than 14 per 100,000 flight hours for its first seven operational years.
By 1998, approximately 50% of the Marine Corp's single-seat AV-8Bs and six two-seat TAV-8B's were configured with the 408A engine. A Department of Defense (DoD) decision to retrofit all of the TAV-8Bs with the 408A not only provides increased thrust - thereby providing a larger margin for safety - but improves maintainability within the FRS. It also provides an opportunity to establish a common engine for the entire Harrier community. However, some of the important planned maintenance and logistics support features of the new engine had yet to be realized. The EMS was initially only partially fielded, with no usable ground stations for retrieval of data available at the squadron level, and neither the RCM nor the modular maintenance programs had been adequately funded.
Top view of the model. The camoflauge of the earlier version has been replaced by the standard two tone grey air superiority scheme adopted in the mid 1990's. This reflects the switch to a more diverse role for the Harrier II including air superiority missions. While the green camo helped hide the Harrier in it's low level close air support role, it made it that much more visible when out of the safety of terrain.
The fighter version of the aircraft is manned by a single pilot; a two-seat trainer with the full military capability of the single seater is also available. As with so many modern jet fighters, the Harrier is equipped with zero-zero ejection seats; that is, crew escape is possible on the runway at zero altitude and zero speed.
Bottom view of the model. The armament consists of two drop tanks, two AGM-65E electro-optically guided Maverick air to ground missiles, and two AIM-9 Sidewinder air to air missiles. The aircraft is also armed with the 25mm rotary cannon in a dual belly pod system, with the weapon in the port pod and the ammunition in the starboard pod.
The AV-8B's wing is made out of one piece, including ribs and skins. It's ailerons, flaps, outrigger pods and fairings, forward part of fuselage, tail, wings and rudder, are manufactured mainly from graphite epoxy (carbon fiber) and other composites. The center and rear fuselage, wing leading-edges (reinforced against bird strikes on RAF aircraft) , wingtips, tailplane leading-edges and tips, and fin, are of an aluminum alloy. Small sections of the bottom, heat shields, and the nose of the Harrier are constructed out of titanium.
Info courtesy air-attack.com.
Manufacturer(s) McDonnell Douglass/ Boeing
Country UK & USA
Role V/STOL Ground Attack Fighter
Powerplant Rolls-Royce F402-RR-408 (1x)
Thrust 23,800 lbs 106kN
Length 46.4 (ft)
Height 11.9 (ft)
Wingspan 30.4 (ft)
Weight (empty) 12,500 (lbs)
Max t/o weight n/a
Rate of climb
Speed 629 (mph)
Ceiling 50,000 (ft)