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  • McDonnell Douglas / Boeing / BAe Systems AV-8B Harrier II V/STOL Strike Aircraft


    The AV-8B Harrier II became a vastly improved and highly developed form of the original Harrier family line.

     Updated: 5/5/2017; Authored By Dan Alex; Content ¬©www.MilitaryFactory.com


    While the original Hawker Siddeley Harrier proved revolutionary for its time, and the follow-up BAe Systems Sea Harrier bettered the type's original design with the inclusion of radar and improvements in out-of-the-cockpit visibility, vertical control and armament, the aircraft still maintained an origin firmly entrenched in the 1960s. By the middle of the 1970s, it became clear that the aircraft had all but met its potential and limitations were apparent - particularly in range, avionics and payload capacity. What essentially began and ended as a joint venture between British and American aeronautic firms (the British bailed early, then rejoined later on) produced the ultimate Harrier form in the "AV-8B Harrier II". The AV-8B (and under its British designation as the Harrier GR) saw combat action in Iraq, over Kosovo and now over Afghanistan and continues to be the Harrier version of choice for the USMC and RAF/RN.

    Breakdown of the Harrier Family Tree

    The Harrier family line consists of four major versions composed of the Hawker Siddeley Harrier, the British Aerospace (BAe) Sea Harrier, the Boeing/BAe AV-8B Harrier II and the BAe Systems/Boeing Harrier II. Confusing at first, each model does differentiate from the other in some distinct way. The initial production model and beginning of the Harrier lineage was the Hawker Siddeley Harrier. The Sea Harrier (as the name implies) became the dedicated navalized version of the base Harrier and utilized for air-defense as a primary role and ground strike as secondary. The Sea Harrier also made use of the powerful Blue Fox radar and was a direct development of the land-based RAF Harrier GR.3. The Boeing/BAe AV-8B Harrier II became a "second generation" Harrier and is a highly-modified version of the original Harrier for use by the USMC while the BAe Harrier II is a British-modified strike version of the USMC Harrier II.

    Hawker Aircraft Limited was absorbed by Hawker Siddeley Group in the late 1950s and became British Aerospace (BAe) in 1977. British Aerospace became BAe Systems in 1999 after its purchase of Marconi Electronic Systems.

    This article covers the second generation McDonnell Douglas Corporation (MDC) / BAe Systems AV-8B and Harrier GR types. Other models are reviewed elsewhere on this site under their respective manufacturers.


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    McDonnell Douglas / BAe Systems AV-8B Harrier II Plus Technical Specifications


    Service Year: 1985
    Type: V/STOL Strike Aircraft
    National Origin: United States
    Manufacturer(s): McDonnell Douglas / Boeing - USA / BAe Systems - UK
    Production Total: 500



    Structural (Crew Space, Dimensions and Weights)


    Operating Crew: 1
    Length: 46.33 feet (14.12 meters)
    Width: 30.35 feet (9.25 meters)
    Height: 11.65 feet (3.55 meters)

    Weight (Empty): 13,977 lb (6,340 kg)
    Weight (MTOW): 31,085 lb (14,100 kg)

    Installed Power and Standard Day Performance


    Engine(s): 1 x Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk 105 (F402-RR-408) vectored-thrust turbofan engine delivering 23,500lbf of horizontal thrust.

    Maximum Speed: 665 mph (1,070 kph; 578 knots)
    Maximum Range: 1,367 miles (2,200 km)
    Service Ceiling: 50,000 feet (15,240 meters; 9.47 miles)
    Rate-of-Climb: 14,700 feet-per-minute (4,481 m/min)

    Armament / Mission Payload


    STANDARD AV-8B:
    1 x 25mm GAU-12U Equalizer cannon in left under-fuselage pod fairing (ammunition in right pod fairing).

    STANDARD GR:
    2 x 30mm ADEN cannons in underfuselage pod fairings (since removed).

    OPTIONAL:
    MK-82 500lb bombs
    MK-83 1000lb bombs
    GBU-12 500lb laser-guided bombs
    GBU-16 1000lb laser-guided bombs
    AGM-65F Maverick Infra-red Guided air-to-surface missiles.
    AGM-65E Maverick Laser-Guided air-to-surface missiles.
    AGM-84 Harpoon Anti-Ship Air-to-Surface Missile
    CBU-99 Cluster Munition
    4 x AIM-9M Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles.
    AIM-120 AMRAAM medium-range air-to-air missiles
    LITENING Targeting POD (for GBU-12 and GBU-16 bombs.
    Napalm
    JDAM (Joint Direct Attack Munitions)

    Up to 13,200lbs of external stores across seven hardpoints (6 underwing, 1 centerline). British GRs slightly different.

    Global Operators / Customers


    Spain; Italy; United Kingdom; United States

    Model Variants (Including Prototypes)


    YAV-8B - AV-8A conversions to two prototype examples.

    AV-8B "Harrier II" - Initial Production Model Designation; daytime attack version; since upgraded or retired from service.

    AV-8B "Harrier II Night Attack" - Improved output from Rolls-Royce Pegasus 11 series turbofan engine; revised cockpit; nighttime attack model; fitted with NAVFLIR (Navigation Forward-Looking Infrared camera system; operation beginning in 1991.

    AV-8B "Harrier II Plus" - APG-65 radar system installed; based on the AV-8B Harrier II Night Attack model.

    TAV-8B "Harrier II" - Two-Seat Trainer Model

    EAV-8B "Matador II" - Spanish Navy Designation

    GR.Mk 5 - Initial production model for the Royal Air Force; differing avionics, countermeasures and weapons suite; 41 examples produced.

    GR.Mk 5A - 21 examples produced with minor modifications of the Mk 5 model.

    GR.Mk 7 - Beginning service in 1997

    GR.Mk 7A - Upgraded Mk 7 models to newer GR.Mk 9 standard; uprated Rolls-Royce Pegasus Mk 107 series turbofan engine; improved performance; 40 examples modified in this fashion.

    GR.Mk 9 - Upgraded avionics and weapons suite; based on the GR.Mk 7 models; smart weapon capable.

    GR.Mk 9A - Avionics and weapons upgrade; uprated engines of the GR.Mk 7A models.

    T.Mk 10 - Two-Seat Trainer for RAF based on the USMC TAV-8B; retaining combat capability; 13 examples produced.

    T.Mk 12 - Two-Seat Trainer based on the T.Mk 10 trainers modified to GR.Mk 9 standards.