The First of Its Kind
The McDonnell Douglas/Boeing AV-8B Harrier II evolved from the British Hakwer Siddeley Type Number P.1127 (1957). Together, the United Kingdom, United States and Germany funded the evaluation of nine development aircraft, known as Kestrels, in 1965 to investigate the value of tactical jet V/STOL (Vertical/Short Take-Off and Loading) operations. The first tactical jet V/STOL airplane to become operational, AV-8A Harriers first joined the Marine Corps in 1971, replacing their A-4s for close air support missions. The Harrier's V/STOL capability allowed it to support ground troops from nearby unimproved fields.
The AV-8B Harrier II became operational with the Marines in 1985. It featured extensive changes from the AV-8A, including a new supercritical composite wing, increased fuel capacity, a new cockpit similar to the F/A-18, new propulsion nozzles, a bubble canopy, and automatic stability control. The outrigger landing gear struts were moved inboard from the wingtips. The Marines are currently replacing their Harriers with the F-35B.
Our Display Aircraft Bureau Number 161576
is the fourth production AV-8B. It flew here at NAS Patuxent River with the Strike Aircraft Test Directorate and Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron, as well as with Air Test and Evaluation Squadron
Five (VX-5), before it was retired in August 1999. It was added to PRNAM's flight line in January 2019.
This aircraft is on loan from the National Museum of the Marine Corps at Triangle, Virginia
· Primary Mission: Close air support/light attack
· Crew: One Pilot
· U.S. Service Timeline (all versions of the AV-8B): 1985 to present
· Max. Operating Speed: 673 MPH
· Max. Gross Weight: 32,000 lb
· Propulsion: One Rolls-Royce Pegasus F402-RR-406 turbofan
· Dimensions: 46.3 ft length, 30.3 ft wing span
· Armament: One 25mm cannon plus 13,235 lb of ordnance (bombs, missiles)