AV-8B Harrier II Fighter Jet Operational Extension Until 2029

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AV-8B Harrier II Fighter Jet: Operational Extension Until 2029-The AV-8B Harrier II fighter jet, capable of vertical or short takeoff and landing (V STOL), will continue to be operated by the United States Marine Corps (USMC) until 2029, despite the introduction of the F35B Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

AV-8B Harrier II Fighter Jet Operational Extension Until 2029

In July 2020, the US Department of the Navy awarded a US$123 million Maintenance, Modifications, Aircrew and Related Services (CMMARS) contract to Vertex Aerospace LLC. BAE Systems has been selected as a partner to increase efficiency in Harrier fleet maintenance operations, including training support and combat operations.

Maintenance activities will be conducted at stations including Cherry Point, North Carolina; Yuma, Ariz.; and Madison, Mississippi, involving Vertex Aerospace LLC, BAE Systems and the US Marine Corps.

The AV-8B Harrier II, a second generation ground attack aircraft, serves the US Marine Corps, Spanish Navy, Italian Navy and the United Kingdom. Equipped with a 25mm GAU-12 Gatling cannon and six weapons hardpoints, it carries air-to-air, air-to-surface, and anti-ship missiles, as well as guided and guided bombs.

With 124 AV-8B and TAV-8B Harrier aircraft in its fleet, the US Marines have five operational fighter squadrons, each consisting of 16 AV-8B aircraft. The West Coast Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) will switch to the F-35 in 2023, while the East Coast will retain the AV-8B Harrier II until 2028.

The AV-8B Harrier II modernization program focuses on avionics and software upgrades, including the integration of advanced missile systems and the LITENING Advanced Tactical Data Link (ATDL) to improve targeting and surveillance capabilities.

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