INTRODUCTION AND HISTORY

The Harrier aircraft, a ground attack aircraft, was named by US Army General Norman Schwarzkop as one of the top seven weapons used during the Gulf War.  Mainly utilized by the USMC, the Harrier is often referred to as a Jump Jet - due to its vertical ascent and short runway takeoff capabilities.

 

The history of the Harrier began back in the 50’s and 60’ in the UK.  The first aircraft though was quickly identified has having problems with its range and its payload capabilities.  By December of 1973, both these shortcomings were addressed through the joint venture of an American/British team.  However, in March of 1975, the British were forced to withdraw from the project as defense funds were being cut, the cost to manufacture continued to rise and the RAF had only requested 60 of these aircraft.

 

PATH TO IMPROVEMENTS

Once the British pulled out, the U.S. discontinued the project as well, though both countries continued on separate paths in an attempt to improve on the Harrier.  This was the first of many paths for the development of the next generation Harrier, but finally in August of 1981, theUnited StatesandUnited Kingdomentered into a new agreement, which would give theUKsubcontractor status, as opposed to their original full partner position of the mid 70’s.

The first variant of this new venture was designated the YAV-8B and the initial flight for this Harrier version was in November of 1978, but a year later, a second prototype (initial flight in February 1979) would crash due to an engine burnout.  Subsequently, in 1981, the AV-8B variant, with upgrades and improvements and by December of 1983, the USMC received their first production delivery.

The Harrier design would not stop there.  A two seater trainer version was ordered in 1984 to allow ample training in the handling of this newer aircraft and also to allow pilots to become accustomed to the digital cockpit.