|The mission of
the VMA STOVL squadron is to attack and destroy surface
and air targets, to escort helicopters, and to conduct other such air
operations as may be directed. Specific tasks of the AV-8B HARRIER II
close air support using conventional and specific weapons.
deep air support, to include armed reconnaissance and air interdiction,
using conventional and specific weapons.
offensive and defensive antiair warfare. This includes combat air
patrol, armed escort missions, and offensive missions against enemy
ground-to-air defenses, all within the capabilities of the aircraft.
able to operate and deliver ordnance at night and to operate under
instrument flight conditions.
able to deploy for extended operations employing aerial refueling.
able to deploy to and operate from carriers and other suitable seagoing
platforms, advanced bases, expeditionary airfields, and remote tactical
The AV-8B V/STOL strike aircraft was designed to replace the AV-8A and
the A-4M light attack aircraft. The Marine Corps requirement for a
V/STOL light attack force has been well documented since the late
1950's. Combining tactical mobility, responsiveness, reduced operating
cost and basing flexibility, both afloat and ashore, V/STOL aircraft
are particularly well-suited to the special combat and expeditionary
requirements of the Marine Corps. The AV-8BII+ features the APG-65
Radar common to the F/A-18, as well as all previous systems and
features common to the AV-8BII.
Operation Desert Storm in 1991 was highlighted by expeditionary air
operations performed by the AV-8B. The Harrier II was the first Marine
Corps tactical strike platform to arrive in theater, and subsequently
operated from various basing postures. Three squadrons, totaling 60
aircraft, and one six-aircraft detachment operated ashore from an
expeditionary airfield, while one squadron of 20 aircraft operated from
a sea platform. During the ground war, AV-8Bs were based as close as 35
nautical miles (40.22 miles) from the Kuwait border, making them the
most forward deployed tactical strike aircraft in theater. The AV-8B
flew 3,380 sorties for a total of 4,083 flight hours while maintaining
a mission capable rate in excess of 90%. Average turnaround time during
the ground war surge rate flight operations was 23 minutes.