I have been around military aircraft for over three decades, and to watch a Harrier accelerate down the runway is still, to this day, one of the most impressive aviation-related things I have ever seen. Sure, she is starting to get long in the tooth and her not nearly as attractive new cousin, the F-35, is starting to replace the old girl on the ramp at MCAS Yuma and other bases around the country. However, there is one thing the F-35 will never be able to take away from the venerable AV-8B Harrier II – it will never be the aircraft that perfected V/STOL.
The Harrier traces its origins back to Great Britain and the late 1950s with Hawker’s P.1127 and early ’60s with Hawker Siddeley’s Kestrel FGA.1. The newest Harrier versions entered service with the United States Marine Corps in 1985, and there are still six squadrons supporting global contingency operations today.
The Marine Corps has already begun standing down squadrons in order to begin their transition to the F-35. The first squadron to be decommissioned was VMA-513, the “Flying Nightmares”, after serving the United States Marine Corps for almost 70 years. The first F-35B squadron is fragged to reach Initial Operational Capability later this summer.
We bring to you some of our most favorite Harrier images taken over the last 10-ish years. Enjoy!