You couldn't get away from it... that roar... that blast of unconfined thrust that occurs as the US Marine Corps Harrier 'Jump Jet' spools up and takes a flight... in the most amazing ways. One of the truly all-time favorites at Oshkosh, Aero TV got the chance to speak with the pilot for this year's Harrier demonstration, Major Dave Martin, call sign: Doc.
The Harrier arrive at the fabled land of Oshkosh on July 28th, and stayed through the daily air show on Wednesday, July 30th, before heading home. It performed its ever-popular flight demonstrations during each of the EAA AirVenture air shows on July 28-30. (Note to anyone within about a 1/4-mile radius of show center at future such demonstrations: bring earplugs... or not, since the noise is part of the fun -- E-I-C).
The AV-8B Harrier II is designed for combat air support, as well as combat air patrol, missions against ground defenses and armed escort. The single-seat fighter is 46 feet long with a wingspan of 30 feet. It can reach transonic speeds and has radar systems similar to those found in F/A-18 fighter jets.
The Marines first deployed the Harrier II in 1985, with the upgraded AV-8BII Plus model introduced in 1993. The aircraft is the latest descendant of the original British Harrier jump jet that first appeared in the early 1960s. The AV-8B V/STOL strike aircraft was designed to replace the AV-8A and the A-4M light attack aircraft. The Marine Corps requirement for a V/STOL light attack force has been well documented since the late 1950's. Combining tactical mobility, responsiveness, reduced operating cost and basing flexibility, both afloat and ashore, V/STOL aircraft are particularly well-suited to the special combat and expeditionary requirements of the Marine Corps. The AV-8BII+ features the APG-65 Radar common to the F/A-18, as well as all previous systems and features common to the AV-8B Harrier II.
Operation Desert Storm in 1991 was highlighted by expeditionary air operations performed by the AV-8B. The Harrier II was the first Marine Corps tactical strike platform to arrive in theater, and subsequently operated from various basing postures. Three squadrons, totaling 60 aircraft, and one six-aircraft detachment operated ashore from an expeditionary airfield, while one squadron of 20 aircraft operated from amphibious shipping. During the ground war, AV-8Bs were based as close as 35 nautical miles (40.22 miles) from the Kuwait border, making them the most forward deployed tactical strike aircraft in theater. The AV-8B flew 3,380 sorties for a total of 4,083 flight hours while maintaining a mission capable rate in excess of 90%. Average turnaround time during the ground war surge rate flight operations was 23 minutes. General Schwartzkoph, in his report to the Secretary of Defense after the war, cited seven weapon systems that significantly contributed to the quick success of Operation Desert Storm; only three of which were aircraft, the F-117, the AH-64, and the AV-8B Harrier.
Enjoy the Roar of the USMC Harrier AV-8B With Aero-TV (Part 1)!
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