|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
|Primary users||United States Marine Corps
|Number built||AV-8B: 337 (excluding the YAV-8B)|
|Program cost||US$6.5 billion (1987)|
US$24–30 million (1996)
|Developed from||Hawker Siddeley Harrier|
|Variants||British Aerospace Harrier II|
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, 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.
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 (UK), aimed at addressing the operational inadequacies of the first-generation Harrier. Early efforts centered on a larger, more powerful Pegasus engine to dramatically improve the capabilities of the Harrier. Due to budgetary constraints, the UK abandoned the project in 1975.
Following the withdrawal of the UK, McDonnell Douglas extensively redesigned the earlier AV-8A Harrier to create the AV-8B. While retaining the general layout of its predecessor, the aircraft incorporates a new wing, an elevated cockpit, a redesigned fuselage, one extra hardpoint per wing, and other structural and aerodynamic refinements. The aircraft is powered by an upgraded version of the Pegasus, which gives the aircraft its V/STOL ability. The AV-8B made its maiden flight in November 1981 and entered service with the USMC in January 1985. Later upgrades added a night-attack capability and radar, resulting in the AV-8B(NA) and AV-8B Harrier II Plus, respectively. An enlarged version named Harrier III was also studied, but not pursued. The UK, through British Aerospace, re-joined the improved Harrier project as a partner in 1981, giving it a significant work-share in the project. After corporate mergers in the 1990s, Boeing and BAE Systems have jointly supported the program. Approximately 340 aircraft were produced in a 22-year production program that ended in 2003.
Typically operated from small aircraft carriers, large amphibious assault ships and simple forward operating bases, AV-8Bs have participated in numerous military and humanitarian operations, proving themselves versatile assets. U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf named the USMC Harrier II as one of several important weapons in the Gulf War. The aircraft took part in combat during the Iraq War beginning in 2003. The Harrier II has served in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan since 2001, and was used in Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya in 2011. Italian and Spanish Harrier IIs have taken part in overseas conflicts in conjunction with NATO coalitions. During its service history, the AV-8B has had a high accident rate, related to the percentage of time spent in critical take-off and landing phases. USMC and Italian Navy AV-8Bs are to be replaced by the Lockheed Martin F-35B Lightning II, with the former expected to operate its Harriers until 2025.
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 landing configuration, 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. 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. Although more powerful, the engine’s diameter was too large by 2.75 in (70 mm) to fit into the Harrier easily.
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. 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. With development costs estimated to be around £180–200 million (1974 British pounds), the United States was unwilling to fund development by itself, and ended the project later that year.
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.
As the USMC wanted a substantially improved Harrier without the development of a new engine, the plan for Harrier II development was authorized by the United States Department of Defense (DoD) in 1976.The United States Navy (USN), which had traditionally procured military aircraft for the USMC, insisted that the new design be verified with flight testing. McDonnell Douglas modified two AV-8As with new wings, revised intakes, redesigned exhaust nozzles, and other aerodynamic changes; the modified forward fuselage and cockpit found on all subsequent aircraft were not incorporated on these prototypes. Designated YAV-8B, the first converted aircraft flew on 9 November 1978, at the hands of Charles Plummer. The aircraft performed three vertical take-offs and hovered for seven minutes at Lambert–St. Louis International Airport. The second aircraft followed on 19 February 1979, but crashed that November due to engine flameout; the pilot ejected safely. Flight testing of these modified AV-8s continued into 1979.The results showed greater than expected drag, hampering the aircraft’s maximum speed. Further refinements to the aerodynamic profile yielded little improvement. Positive test results in other areas, including payload, range, and V/STOL performance, led to the award of a development contract in 1979. The contract stipulated a procurement of 12 aircraft initially, followed by a further 324.
Between 1978 and 1980, the DoD and USN repeatedly attempted to terminate the AV-8B program. There had previously been conflict between the USMC and USN over budgetary issues. At the time, the USN wanted to procure A-18s for its ground attack force and, to cut costs, pressured the USMC to adopt the similarly-designed F-18 fighter instead of the AV-8B to fulfill the role of close air support (both designs were eventually amalgamated to create the multirole F/A-18 Hornet). Despite these bureaucratic obstacles, in 1981, the DoD included the Harrier II in its annual budget and five-year defense plan. The USN declined to participate in the procurement, citing the limited range and payload compared with conventional aircraft.
In August 1981 the program received a boost when British Aerospace (BAe) and McDonnell Douglas signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), marking the UK’s re-entry into the program. The British government was enticed by the lower cost of acquiring Harriers promised by a large production run, and the fact that the US was shouldering the expense of development. Under the agreement BAe was relegated to the position of a subcontractor, instead of the full partner status that would have been the case had the UK not left the program. Consequently, the company received, in man-hours, 40 percent of the airframe work-share. Aircraft production took place at McDonnell Douglas’ facilities in suburban St. Louis, Missouri, and manufacturing by BAe at its Kingston and Dunsfold facilities in Surrey, England. Meanwhile, 75 percent work-share for the engine went to Rolls-Royce, which had previously absorbed Bristol Siddeley, with the remaining 25 percent assigned to Pratt & Whitney. The two companies planned to manufacture 400 Harrier IIs, with the USMC expected to procure 336 aircraft and the RAF, 60.
Four full-scale development (FSD) aircraft were constructed. The first of these (BuNo 161396), used mainly for testing performance and handling qualities, made its maiden flight on 5 November 1981, piloted by Plummer. The second and third FSD aircraft, which introduced wing leading-edge root extensions and revised engine intakes, first flew in April the following year; the fourth followed in January 1984. The first production AV-8B was delivered to the Marine Attack Training Squadron 203 (VMAT-203) at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point (MCAS Cherry Point) on 12 December 1983, and officially handed over one month later. The last of the initial batch of 12 was delivered in January 1985 to the front-line Marine Attack Squadron 331 (VMA-331). The engine used for these aircraft was the F402-RR-404A, with 21,450 lb (95.4 kN) of thrust; aircraft from 1990 onwards received upgraded engines.
During the initial pilot conversion course, it became apparent that the AV-8B exhibited flight characteristics different from the AV-8A. These differences, as well as the digital cockpit fitted instead of the analog cockpit of the TAV-8A, necessitated additional pilot training. In 1984, funding for eight AV-8Bs was diverted to the development of a two-seat TAV-8B trainer. The first of the 28 TAV-8Bs eventually procured had its maiden flight on 21 October 1986. This aircraft was delivered to VMAT-203 on 24 July 1987; the TAV-8B was also ordered by Italy and Spain.
With export interest from Brazil, Japan, and Italy serving as a source of encouragement to continue development of the Harrier II, McDonnell Douglas commenced work on a night-attack variant in 1985. With the addition of an infrared sensor and cockpit interface enhancements, the 87th production single-seat AV-8B became the first Harrier II to be modified for night attacks, leaving the McDonnell Douglas production line in June 1987. Flight tests proved successful and the night attack capability was validated. The first of 66 AV-8B(NA)s was delivered to the USMC in September 1989. An equivalent version of the AV-8B(NA) also served with the RAF under the designation GR7; earlier GR5 aircraft were subsequently upgraded to GR7 standards.
In June 1987, as a private venture, BAe, McDonnell Douglas, and Smiths Industries signed an MoU for the development of what was to become the AV-8B Plus, which saw the addition of radar and increased missile compatibility. The agreement was endorsed by the USMC and, after much consideration, the Spanish and Italian navies developed a joint requirement for a fleet of air-defense Harriers. The United States, Spain, and Italy signed an MoU in September 1990 to define the responsibilities of the three countries and establish a Joint Program Office to manage the program. On 30 November 1990, the USN, acting as an agent for the three participating countries, awarded McDonnell Douglas the contract to develop the improved Harrier. The award was followed by an order from the USMC in December 1990 for 30 new aircraft, and 72 rebuilt from older aircraft. Italy ordered 16 Harrier II Plus and two twin-seat TAV-8B aircraft, while Spain signed a contract for eight aircraft. Production of the AV-8B Harrier II Plus was conducted, in addition to McDonnell Douglas’ plant, at CASA’s facility in Seville, Spain, and Alenia Aeronautica’s facility in Turin, Italy. The UK also participated in the program by manufacturing components for the AV-8B.
Production was authorized on 3 June 1992. The maiden flight of the prototype (BuNo 164129) took place on 22 September, marking the start of a successful flight-test program. The first production aircraft was delivered to St. Louis and made its initial flight on 17 March 1993. Deliveries of new aircraft took place from April 1993 to 1995. At the same time, the plan to remanufacture existing AV-8Bs to the Plus standard proceeded. On 11 March 1994, the Defense Acquisition Board approved the program, which initially involved 70 aircraft, with four converted in financial year 1994.The program planned to use new and refurbished components to rebuild aircraft at a lower cost than manufacturing new ones. Conversion began in April 1994, and the first aircraft was delivered to the USMC in January 1996.
In March 1996, the US General Accounting Office (GAO) stated that it was cheaper to buy Harrier II Plus aircraft outright than to remanufacture existing AV-8Bs. The USN estimated the cost for remanufacture of each aircraft to be US$23–30 million, instead of $30 million for each new-built aircraft, while the GAO estimated the cost per new aircraft at $24 million. Nevertheless, the program continued and, in 2003, the 72nd and last AV-8B to be remanufactured for the USMC was delivered. Spain also participated in the program, the delivery of its last refurbished aircraft occurring in December 2003, which marked the end of the AV-8B’s production; the final new AV-8B had been delivered in 1997.
In the 1990s, Boeing and BAE Systems assumed management of the Harrier family following corporate mergers that saw Boeing acquire McDonnell Douglas and BAe amalgamate with other defense companies to form BAE Systems. Between 1969 and 2003, 824 Harriers of all models were delivered. In 2001, Flight International reported that Taiwan might meet its requirement for a short take off and vertical landing (STOVL) aircraft by purchasing AV-8Bs, outfitted with the F-16 Fighting Falcon’s APG-66 radar. A Taiwanese purchase would have allowed the production line to stay open beyond 2005. Despite the possibility of leasing AV-8Bs, interest in the aircraft waned as the country switched its intentions to procuring the F-35 and upgrading its fleet of F-16s.
Although there have been no new AV-8B variants, in 1990 McDonnell Douglas and British Aerospace began discussions on an interim aircraft between the AV-8B and the next generation of advanced STOVL aircraft. The Harrier III would have presented an “evolutionary approach to get the most from the existing aircraft”, as many of the structures employed on the Sea Harrier and AV-8B would be used. The wing and the torsion box were to be enlarged to accommodate extra fuel and hardpoints to improve the aircraft’s endurance. Due to the increase in size, the wing would have had folding wingtips. To meet the heavier weight of the aircraft, Rolls-Royce was expected to design a Pegasus engine variant that would have produced 4,000 lbf (18 kN) more thrust than the latest production variant at the time. The Harrier III would have carried weapons such as AIM-120 AMRAAMand AIM-132 ASRAAM missiles.Boeing and BAE Systems continued studying the design until the early 2000s, when the project was abandoned.
In 2013, the USMC was studying potential enhancements to keep the AV-8B Harrier IIs up to date until its planned retirement, such as a helmet-mounted cueing system. It is also predicted that additional work on the aircraft’s radars and sensor systems may take place. The USMC’s Harrier II fleet was planned to remain in service until 2030, owing to delays with the F-35B and the fact that the Harriers have more service life left than USMC F/A-18 Hornets. However, by 2014 the USMC had decided to retire the AV-8B sooner because changing the transition orders of Harrier II and Hornet fleets to the Lightning II would save $1 billion. After entering service in the mid-2010s, the F-35B will start to replace the AV-8B in 2016, with the AV-8B expected to continue service until 2025. Meanwhile, the AV-8B will receive revamped defensive measures, updated data-link capability and targeting sensors, and improved missiles and rockets, among other enhancements.
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.
The AV-8B is equipped with one centerline fuselage and six wing hardpoints (compared to four wing hardpoints on the original Harrier),along with two fuselage stations for a 25 mm GAU-12 cannon and ammunition pack.These hardpoints give it the ability to carry a total of 9,200 lb (4,200 kg) of weapons, including air-to-air, air-to-surface, and anti-ship missiles, as well as unguided and guided bombs.The aircraft’s internal fuel capacity is 7,500 lb (3,400 kg), up 50 percent compared to its predecessor. Fuel capacity can be carried in hardpoint-compatible external drop tanks, which give the aircraft a maximum ferry range of 2,100 mi (3,300 km) and a combat radius of 300 mi (556 km). The AV-8B can also receive additional fuel via aerial refueling using the probe-and-drogue system. The British Aerospace Harrier II, a variant tailored to the RAF, uses different avionics, and has one additional missile pylon on each wing.
The Harrier II retains the tandem landing gear layout of the first-generation Harriers, although each outrigger landing gear leg was moved from the wingtip to mid-span for a tighter turning radius when taxiing. The engine intakes are larger than those of the first-generation Harrier, and have a revised inlet. On the underside of the fuselage, McDonnell Douglas added lift-improvement devices, which capture the reflected engine exhaust when close to the ground, giving the equivalent of up to 1,200 lb (544 kg) of extra lift.
The technological advances incorporated into the Harrier II, compared with the original Harrier, significantly reduce the workload on the pilot. The supercritical wing, hands-on-throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) control principle, and increased engineered lateral stability make the aircraft fundamentally easier to fly. Ed Harper, general manager for the McDonnell Douglas Harrier II development program, summarized: “The AV-8B looks a lot like the original Harrier and it uses the same operating fundamentals. It just uses them a lot better”. A large cathode-ray tube multi-purpose display, taken from the F/A-18, makes up much of the instrument panel in the cockpit. It has a wide range of functions, including radar warning information and weapon delivery checklist. The pilots sit on UPC/Stencel 10B zero-zero ejection seats, meaning that they are able to eject from a stationary aircraft at zero altitude.
For the AV-8B, McDonnell Douglas redesigned the entire airframe of the Harrier, incorporating numerous structural and aerodynamic changes. To improve visibility and better accommodate the crew and avionics hardware, McDonnell Douglas elevated the cockpit by 10.5 in (27 cm) and redesigned the canopy. This improved the forward (17° down), side (60°), and rear visibility. The front fuselage is composed of a molded skin with an epoxy-based core sandwiched between two carbon-fiber sheets. To compensate for the changes in the front fuselage, the rear fuselage was extended by 18 in (46 cm), and the taller vertical stabilizer of the Sea Harrier was used. The tail assembly is made up of composites to reduce weight.
Perhaps the most thorough redesign was of the wing, the objective being to match the performance of the cancelled AV-16 while retaining the Pegasus engine of the AV-8A.Engineers designed a new, one-piece supercritical wing, which improves cruise performance by delaying the rise in drag and increasing lift-to-drag ratio. Made of composites, the wing is thicker and has a longer span than that of the AV-8A. Compared to the AV-8A’s wing, it has a higher aspect ratio, reduced sweep (from 40° to 37°), and an area increased from 200 sq ft (18.6 m2) to 230 sq ft (21.4 m2). The wing has a high-lift configuration, employing flaps that deploy automatically when maneuvering, and drooped ailerons. Using the leading edge root extensions, the new wing allows for a 6,700 lb (3,035 kg) increase in payload compared with the first-generation Harriers after a 1,000 ft (300 m) takeoff roll.Because the wing is almost exclusively composite, it is 330 lb (150 kg) lighter than the AV-8A’s smaller wing.
The Harrier II was the first combat aircraft to extensively employ carbon-fiber composite materials, exploiting their light weight and high strength; they are used in the wings, rudder, flaps, nose, forward fuselage, and tail. Twenty-six percent of the aircraft’s structure is made of composites, reducing its weight by 480 lb (217 kg) compared to a conventional metal structure.
Most of the first “day attack” AV-8B Harrier IIs were upgraded to Night Attack Harrier or Harrier II Plus standards, with the remainder being withdrawn from service. The AV-8B cockpit was also used for the early trialing of Direct Voice Input (DVI), which allows the pilot to use voice commands to issue instructions to the aircraft, using a system developed by Smiths Industries. The main attack avionics system in original aircraft was the nose-mounted Hughes AN/ASB-19 angle-rate bombing system. The system combined a TV imager and laser tracker to provide a highly accurate targeting capability. Defensive equipment include several AN/ALE-39 chaff-flare dispensers, an AN/ALR-67 radar warning receiver, and an AN/ALQ-126C jammer pod.
The trainer version of the AV-8B is the TAV-8B, seating two pilots in tandem. Among other changes, the forward fuselage features a 3 ft 11 in (1.19 m) extension to accommodate the second cockpit. To compensate for the slight loss of directional stability, the vertical stabilizer’s area was enlarged through increases in chord (length of the stabilizer’s root) and height. USMC TAV-8Bs feature the AV-8B’s digital cockpit and new systems, but have only two hardpoints and are not combat capable. Initial TAV-8Bs were powered by a 21,450 lbf (95.4 kN) F402-RR-406A engine, while later examples were fitted with the 23,000 lbf (105.8 kN) F402-RR-408A. In the early 2000s, 17 TAV-8Bs were upgraded to include a night-attack capability, the F402-RR-408 engine, and software and structural changes.
Fielded in 1991, the Night Attack Harrier was the first upgrade of the AV-8B. It differed from the original aircraft in having a forward looking infrared (FLIR) camera added to the top of the nose cone, a wide Smiths Industries head-up display (HUD), provisions for night vision goggles, and a Honeywell digital moving map system. The FLIR uses thermal imaging to identify objects by their heat signatures.The variant was powered by the F402-RR-408 engine, which featured an electronic control system and was more powerful and reliable. The flare and chaff dispensers were moved, and the ram air intake was lengthened at the fin’s base. Initially known as the AV-8D, the night-attack variant was designated the AV-8B(NA).
The Harrier II Plus is very similar to the Night Attack variant, with the addition of an APG-65 multi-mode pulse-Doppler radar in an extended nose, allowing it to launch advanced beyond-visual-range missiles such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM. To make additional space for the radar, the angle-rate bombing system was removed. The radars used were taken from early F/A-18 aircraft, which had been upgraded with the related APG-73. In addition to the AIM-120, the AV-8B Plus can also carry AGM-65 Maverick and AGM-84 Harpoon missiles.According to aviation author Lon Nordeen, the changes “had a slight increase in drag and a bit of additional weight, but there really was not much difference in performance between the [–408-powered] Night Attack and radar Harrier II Plus aircraft”.
The AV-8B underwent standard evaluation to prepare for its USMC service. In the operational evaluation (OPEVAL), lasting from 31 August 1984 to 30 March 1985, four pilots and a group of maintenance and support personnel tested the aircraft under combat conditions. The aircraft was graded for its ability to meet its mission requirements for navigating, acquiring targets, delivering weapons, and evading and surviving enemy actions, all at the specified range and payload limits. The first phase of OPEVAL, running until 1 February 1985, required the AV-8B to fly both deep and close air support missions (deep air support missions do not require coordination with friendly ground forces) in concert with other close-support aircraft, as well as flying battlefield interdiction and armed reconnaissance missions. The aircraft flew from military installations at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendletonand Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California, Canadian Forces Base Cold Lake in Canada, and MCAS Yuma in Arizona.
The second phase of OPEVAL, which took place at MCAS Yuma from 25 February to 8 March, required the AV-8B to perform fighter escort, combat air patrol, and deck-launched intercept missions. Although the evaluation identified shortfalls in the design (subsequently rectified), OPEVAL was deemed successful. The AV-8B Harrier II reached initial operating capability (IOC) in January 1985 with USMC squadron VMA-331.
The AV-8B saw extensive action in the Gulf War of 1990–91. Aircraft based on USS Nassau and Tarawa, and at on-shore bases, initially flew training and support sorties, as well as practicing with coalition forces. The AV-8Bs were to be held in reserve during the initial phase of the preparatory air assault of Operation Desert Storm. The AV-8B was first used in the war on the morning of 17 January 1991, when a call for air support from an OV-10 Bronco forward air controller against Iraqi artillery that was shelling Khafji and an adjacent oil refinery, brought the AV-8B into combat. The following day, USMC AV-8Bs attacked Iraqi positions in southern Kuwait. Throughout the war, AV-8Bs performed armed reconnaissance and worked in concert with coalition forces to destroy targets.
During Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, 86 AV-8Bs amassed 3,380 flights and about 4,100 flight hours, with a mission availability rate of over 90 percent. Five AV-8Bs were lost to enemy surface-to-air missiles, and two USMC pilots were killed. The AV-8B had an attrition rate of 1.5 aircraft for every 1,000 sorties flown. U.S. Army General Norman Schwarzkopf later named the AV-8B among the seven weapons—along with the F-117 Nighthawk and AH-64 Apache—that played a crucial role in the war. In the aftermath of the war, from 27 August 1992, until 2003, USMC AV-8Bs and other aircraft patrolled Iraqi skies in support of Operation Southern Watch. The AV-8Bs launched from amphibious assault ships in the Persian Gulf, and from forward operating bases such as Ali Al Salem Air Base, Kuwait.
In 1999, the AV-8B participated in NATO’s bombing of Yugoslavia during Operation Allied Force. Twelve Harriers were split evenly between the 24th and 26th Marine Expeditionary Units (MEU). AV-8Bs of the 24th MEU were introduced into combat on 14 April, and over the next 14 days flew 34 combat air support missions over Kosovo. During their six-month deployment aboard USS Nassau, 24th MEU Harriers averaged a high mission-capable rate of 91.8 percent. On 28 April, the 24th MEU was relieved by the 26th MEU, based on USS Kearsarge. The first combat sorties of the unit’s AV-8Bs occurred two days later, one aircraft being lost. The 26th MEU remained in the theater of operations until 28 May, when it was relocated to Brindisi, Italy.
USMC AV-8Bs took part in Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan from 2001. The USMC 15th MEU arrived off the coast of Pakistan in October 2001. Operating from the unit’s ships, four AV-8Bs began attack missions into Afghanistan on 3 November 2001. The 26th MEU and its AV-8Bs joined 15th MEU later that month. In December 2001, two AV-8Bs first deployed to a forward base at Kandahar in Afghanistan. More AV-8Bs were deployed with other USMC units to the region in 2002. The VMA-513 squadron deployed six Night Attack AV-8Bs to Bagram in October 2002. These aircraft each carried a LITENING targeting pod to perform reconnaissance missions along with attack and other missions, primarily at night.
The AV-8B Harrier II is a family of second-generation vertical/short takeoff and landing or V/STOL ground-attack aircraft of the late 20th century. It is primarily used for light attack or multi-role tasks, typically operated from small aircraft carriers and large amphibious assault ships.
The AV-8B is used by the United States Marine Corps. The British Harrier GR7/GR9 versions are used by the Royal Air Force and Royal Navy. Versions are also used by NATO countries: Spain, and Italy.
The first AV-8B Harrier IIs produced were commonly known as the “Day Attack” variant, and are no longer in service. Most were upgraded to Night Attack Harrier or Harrier II Plus standards, with the remainder being withdrawn from service.
Item No 81804
Item Name AV-8B Harrier II
Bar Code 6939319218049
Item Type Plastic Model Aircraft Kit
Model Dimension Length: 806mm Wingspan: 514mm
Total Plastic Parts 280+
Resin Parts n/a
Metal Parts screw , spring
Photo Etched Parts n/a
Film Accessory n/a
Released Date 2018-01
More Features The kit consists of over 280 parts
Suggested scale: 1/72
Suggested kit: Tamiya
The camouflage is based on photos of F-16C AF 85 418 and AF 83 159 – 64th Aggressor Squadron based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada
Re-usable die-cut camo mask set
The set includes one sheet of pre-cut masks (shown in the picture). The masks are made from thin masking tape, which is easy to be peeled off and doesn’t leave any stains. The tape is tested on clear and painted model too. If carefully removed after painting, they can be used over and over again. It is flexible and easily applied over curved surfaces. Semi-transparent for easy and accurate placing.
|ITEM NO:||DRA 3600|
|EST ARRIVAL:||May 2018|
Last year, Dragon issued an exciting new plastic kit of the M752 Lance surface-to-surface missile launcher system. That particular kit (#3576) featured a Lance tactical ballistic missile mounted on a tracked chassis. Now, following a good response to the subject from modelers, Dragon has doubled the options by releasing another kit, this time of a short/medium-range MGM-52 Lance missile mounted on a single-axle trailer. The MGM-52 Lance missile was deployed in 1972, replacing the bulkier and less mobile Honest John and Sergeant missile systems. With the end of the Cold War, the MGM-52 was withdrawn from service in 1992. The Lance system was used by the US Army, Belgium, Germany, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands and UK, meaning that this new kit offers enterprising modelers a lot of versatility.
The specialized two-wheel trailer is all new, and it features all relevant details such as storage boxes and four outrigger legs for stability when firing. For the benefit of modelers seeking to pose their model dramatically, the missile can be elevated up or down to represent a firing scenario. The missile mount and associated elevation mechanism are sophisticated. Notably, these are the only two 1/35 scale plastic kits of this US-manufactured missile launcher currently available on the market, allowing modelers to choose which Lance they want to get acquainted with.
|ITEM NO:||DRA 1067|
|EST ARRIVAL:||May 2018|
Dragon has a new limited-edition ship available in its 1/350 scale range, a model of a Kee Lung-class destroyer of the ROC Navy (ROCN). Taiwan confirmed its intention to buy four of these destroyers in 2001. They are actually decommissioned US Navy Kidd-class destroyers, with the ships arriving in Taiwan between 2005 and 2006. The first was christened ROCS Kee Lung, while the others are named ROCS Su Ao, ROCS Tso Ying and ROCS Ma Kong. Based at Tsoying, all four 7,062-ton destroyers remain in ROCN service as the navy’s largest combatants.
This 1/350 scale kit will obviously be of huge interest to model fans in Taiwan, but of course the ships have wider interest too. This new kit can be assembled as a full-hull or waterline-hull kit beautifully created by slide mold. The kit is produced to the highest levels of engineering excellence, and a comprehensive selection of photo-etched parts adds extra refinement. This is likely to be a one-off production, so modelers in Taiwan and elsewhere will need to make sure they grab this release quick before it disappears!