AV-8B Harrier

AV-8B Harrier
AV-8B Harrier AV-8B Harrier AV-8B Harrier AV-8B Harrier
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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), the aircraft was designed in the late 1970s as an Anglo-American development of the British Hawker Siddeley Harrier, the first operational V/STOL aircraft. Named after a bird of prey,[8] it 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.

 In the late 1960s and early 1970s, the first-generation Harriers entered service with the Royal Air Force (RAF) and United States Marine Corps (USMC), but were handicapped in range and payload. In short takeoff and landingconfiguration, the AV-8A (American designation for the Harrier) carried less than half the 4,000 lb (1,800 kg) payload of the smaller A-4 Skyhawk, over a more limited radius.[9] To address this issue, Hawker Siddeley and McDonnell Douglas began joint development of a more capable version of the Harrier in 1973. Early efforts concentrated on an improved Pegasus engine, designated the Pegasus 15, which was being tested by Bristol Siddeley.[10] Although more powerful, the engine's diameter was too large by 2.75 in (70 mm) to fit into the Harrier easily.[11]

In December 1973, a joint American and British team completed a project document defining an Advanced Harrier powered by the Pegasus 15 engine. The Advanced Harrier was intended to replace the original RAF and USMC Harriers, as well as the USMC's A-4.[11][12] The aim of the Advanced Harrier was to double the AV-8's payload and range, and was therefore unofficially named AV-16. The British government pulled out of the project in March 1975 owing to decreased defense funding, rising costs, and the RAF's insufficient 60-aircraft requirement.[10][12][13] With development costs estimated to be around £180–200 million (1974 British pounds),[14] the United States was unwilling to fund development by itself, and ended the project later that year.[15]

Despite the project's termination, the two companies continued to take different paths toward an enhanced Harrier. Hawker Siddeley focused on a new larger wing that could be retrofitted to existing operational aircraft, while McDonnell Douglas independently pursued a less ambitious, though still expensive, project catering to the needs of the US military. Using knowledge gleaned from the AV-16 effort, though dropping some items—such as the larger Pegasus engine—McDonnell Douglas kept the basic structure and engine for an aircraft tailored for the USMC.[10][16]

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