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The AV-8 Harrier
Although the U.S Marine Corps was generally pleased with the overall capabilities of its AV-8a Harrier STOVL warplane for close support of amphibious operation , it appreciated that this type had been developed to meet a somewhat different British requirement and that fully optimised suitablity for its own requirements required a modified type.
The Harrier2 (AV-8b), manufactured by BAE and MC Donnel / Douglas ,is a V/STOL fighter and attack aircraft operational with the U.S Marine Corps ,the R.A.F , the Spanish Navy and the Italian Navy.
The Harrier2 extends the capabilities of the Harrier and is the latest addition to the family of Harrier aircraft. The Harrier2 is equipped with a multi-mode-radar and has beyond-visual-range missile capability.
Deliveries to USMC started at 12 January. The first operational USMC -AV-8b squadron was VMA-331. The U.S Marine Corps have 286 aircraft , the R.A.F 109 , the Italian Navy 16 and the Spanish Navy 8.
The AV-8b was the first U.S Marine Corps tactical aircraft to arrive in Theater during operation DESERT STORM.
Harrier2"s operated from an unused airfield and a small forward based airstrip , as well as from ships in the Persian Gulf. During the 42 days of combat , 86 Harrier2"s flew 3,380 combat sorties , 4,112 combat hours and delivered more than six million pounds of ordnane.
Throughout DESERT STORM , Harrier2 squadrons achieved an aircraft readiness rate greater than 90 percent.