Near Term Enhancements of the AV-8B Harrier II 872321
The United States Marine Corps (USMC), the Royal Air Force (RAF) and Royal Navy of the United Kingdom have proven the operational benefits provided by fixed wing powered lift aircraft. The USMC demonstrated the powered lift fixed wing V/STOL light attack concept in the United States with the AV-8A. The Marines eventually needed additional range and payload capability due to expanded mission requirements, but could not afford a simultaneous engine and airframe development program. The AV-8B was developed, fielded, and successfully filled all stated Operational Requirements identified at that time. It is time now to plan for and expand the powered lift capabilities further to keep the AV-8B effective as part of the Marine Amphibious Task Force in the face of growing threat capabilities. The cornerstone of this improvement is the Pegasus −408 growth engine. In addition to the −408 engine, other changes planned include the Digital Engine Control System (DECS), and Night Attack as elements of a multi-year USMC block upgrade program. Additionally, a joint team has been formed to investigate changes necessary to enhance the appeal of the Harrier II in the international market.