BAE Systems and Vertex Aerospace have signed a nine-year agreement to enhance availability of the U.S. Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier II fleet.

The U.S. Department of the Navy awarded Vertex Aerospace LLC the $123 million Contracted Maintenance, Modification, Aircrew, and Related Services (CMMARS) task order in July 2020 to provide aircraft maintenance and Contractor Logistics Support (CLS) services for the U.S. Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier fleet.

Click to enlarge.

According to BAE Systems:

“Vertex Aerospace selected BAE Systems as a subcontractor for the new logistics support contract, which will ensure increased efficiency of maintenance operations for the Harrier fleet using predictive maintenance techniques and smart stock optimization tools. Together, BAE Systems and Vertex Aerospace will support the crucial training and combat operations conducted from U.S. Navy’s aircraft carriers, amphibious assault ships, and forward operating bases.

This contract builds on BAE Systems’ existing role in maintaining the AV-8B Harrier’s reaction control system and providing engineering and technical support. Engineers from BAE Systems will work alongside Vertex and the U.S. Marine Corps at stations in: Cherry Point, North Carolina; Yuma, Arizona; and, Madison, Mississippi. They will be supported by a specialist team in the UK with a proven pedigree of delivering maintenance and support contracts for the UK Royal Air Force.”

Tom Fillingham, Senior Vice President – US Programs, BAE Systems Air, said:

“The Harrier is one of the most iconic military aircraft ever created, with its British designed short take-off and vertical landing technology. Our expertise with the aircraft goes back 40 years and this new contract with Vertex Aerospace ensures we can continue to apply our expertise to support the U.S. Marine Corps in their crucial operations.”

Dave Nagy, Director of Flight Solutions, BAE Systems, Inc. Intelligence & Security, said:

“We’re proud to support our customer’s mission through the AV-8B Harrier program. We are ensuring these aircraft maintain availability until the F-35 replaces the AV-8B. Working together with Vertex as a trusted partner on various U.S. Marine Corps programs, we are demonstrating our capabilities in aircraft modernization, countermeasure system upgrades, and integration activities.”

John Boyington, CEO and President, Vertex Aerospace, said:

“Extending our partnership with BAE Systems to support our U.S. Marine Corps’ important AV-8B pilot training mission just made sense. With a combined 100 plus years of aerospace and defense experience, we understand the challenges warfighters face and remain keenly committed to improving aircraft readiness while maximizing efficiencies.”

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Geoff

Bit frustrating to read this from this side of the pond. The US still thinks the Harrier has a role to play, and we dumped ours due to money 🙁

Alex

The only reason they are extending life is because there are insufficient numbers of F-35b available to deploy on the all Navy’s Wasp Class LHD’s. The AV8-B’s were scheduled to be retired years ago, so it’s a case of not much choice.

pkcasimir

That’s not quite accurate. The reason the Harriers are being extended is because the USMC’s Hornets were falling apart from overuse. The Marines were down to about 50 Hornets available in 2014 so the decision was made, for various reasons, to extend the life of the Harriers.

Levi Goldsteinberg

If nothing else they could’ve played a role as CAS. HMG loves to make terrible decisions though

Frank62

World leader in p*****g money up the wall & dis-arming our forces.

Christopher Allen

The problem with the Harrier is that it is a bit like the A-10, it would only be effective against enemies with no decent AA capabilities. I suspect the US will keep reduce them over the 10 years, possibly keep some for training.

Last edited 1 month ago by Christopher Allen
DaveyB

Yes true, but they were sorely missed in Afghan after the Tornados replaced them. The Tornados didn’t spend enough time on the target, unlike the Harrier guys who would loiter around to make sure the target was hit.

Christopher Allen

Perhaps, but I would rather be in a Tornado than a Harrier if they were operating over Syria. Possibly being more useful in Afghan hardly justifies keeping them in active service.

They, at least, should have been kept for training both pilots and for the carriers.

BB85

A simulator is better for training to land an F35B on a carrier than a Harrier. They are completely different animals, they only similarity is that they both have wings.

Christopher Allen

True, but it has been over a decade since we had aircraft landing on carriers, using spare Harriers will be helpful to prepare both pilots and QE crew for F-35.

BB85

I’d say there is some craic on the carriers. I assume they brought in Americans to help train the aircrew. I know the French sent crew to the states to train when Charles De Gaul was in for refit.

Christopher Allen

The Americans were bought in to temporarily make up aircraft numbers, you seriously think we would be deploying the QE with the few aircraft we have?

Robert Blay

Or just use the F35 and save millions by retiring the Harrier. We don’t keep very expensive fast jets just for training.

Christopher Allen

It will be years before we have fully independent carrier capability. For now, we are relying on the Americans to make up the numbers for the QE alone. Harriers could be useful to help train the crew on the PoW.

Robert Blay

We don’t need another aircraft type just to train deck crews, that’s a ridiculous waste of money. Especially when we have our own school of flight deck operations. POW will sail thus year with F35 and Merlin for continued trials, British F35’s.

Christopher Allen

We only have a few F-35s at the moment, hence why the Americans are on the QE.

spyintheskyuk

Yes far better to send the crews over to the States than what little they would gain from Harrier operations. The Wasps after all are not a prime time Aircraft carrier their role is supplying close air support to their Marines. They may say that PofW will cover some aspects of that but certainly not in the way the Wasps do its far too precious.

Robert Blay

The Harrier was retired over 10 years ago. New pilots are training on the F35. Keeping Harriers would be a monumental waste of money

spyintheskyuk

Only in a very basic sense as they are totally different in terms of their flight and V/Stol characteristics (and indeed every other way) the latter is just so much easier to fly in that particular flight envelope there would be very little that a pilot would learn in the Harrier that would be useful in the F35 and maybe would teach bad habits even I am not qualified to say. Would make him a damn good pilot mind and that would be perhaps the main benefit but then would being a damn fine lightning 1 pilot automatically make you… Read more »

Robert Blay

The Tornado had considerably better endurance then the Harrier, so id take that story with a very large pinch of salt. Harrier also didn’t have Brimstone, or a cannon. I worked on Harrier GR9’s in Afghanistan 2007, did a fantastic job, but the Tornado brought more capability to the party.

DaveyB

Having been the guy on the ground calling in the strike. I can say the Harrier seemed to be more effective. Sure the Tornado had better endurance on internal fuel. This didn’t matter as they had tankers operating overhead. The CVR7s and Paveways did the job. I think it was more down to personalities. The Harriers seemed to be more fighty, whilst the Tornados dropped their ordnance and foxtrot oscared. I don’t know if this way a carry over from NATO doctrine and experience during the Gulf wars, i.e. get in quick and then get out again. But having the… Read more »

Bob

In my experience the Taleban seemed remarkably impervious to air delivered ordinance irrespective of who delivered it! The humble dishdash seemed to allow them to run out of 500lber clouds on a weekly basis.
By far the most impressive CAS we had in Garmsir was a Royal Norwegian Air Force F16. Strait down the Canal on Rte Cowboys below the tree tops.

DaveyB

As JTAC, I had the ability of calling in whoever was on call and available, B1 was the biggest, using a JDAM. Of all the fast air I used, I think the A10s were the most effective, then the Apaches were always the go-tos, if they were available.

julian1

I was going to comment and then saw how embarrassed I’d be in the company of the qualifications of everyone who replied! Could your comment re “fighty” harriers be more about differences between pilots expecting to fly CAS because they flew harriers Vs pilots who didn’t expect to fly CAS since they flew Tornado? Harrier slower with tighter turn circles too so perhaps that helped?

Robert Blay

I think all the pilots wanted to do the best job possible regardless of what aircraft type they flew, different aircraft had different capabilities, weapons ect, but all wanted to protect the guys on the ground, and I’m sure every scenario was different depending on fuel available, weapons available, weather. CAS is incredibly demanding, sometimes a show of force would do the job, other times it had to get kinetic. Fuel was always critical, and always the deciding factor for how long aircraft could stay on station.

Geoffrey Roach

Bizarre old world. We could have a dozen or so Harriers on each of the carriers instead of pretending we have a full air wing by inviting the US marines to provide numbers who also fly um… oh yes…Harriers!

David

Just so…….

Robert Blay

A dozen old, subsonic, limited payload/endurance, high maintenance aircraft. Or a 5th gen all aspect supersonic stealth fighter. umm, that’s a tough one. I worked on Harriers, fantastic aircraft for it’s day, but the F35 is in a different league, and keeping Harriers would just be a waste of precious funds.

Paul C

I agree completely with your logic, but in my experience the anti-F35 crew are not to be swayed by a rational argument. Maybe if they had called it the iHarrier or someting and stuck some fake nozzles on the side it would have softened the blow.

spyintheskyuk

To be honest I am glad that they will be there as we have seen with Iran the Chinese won’t be scared by Britain alone and who knows what they might try in that first cruise in the South China Seas but with US jets on board they would be very wary of doing much or anything hopefully over the obvious rhetoric and you can bet the whole US sensor and technology back up will be covering the opperation.

Geoffrey Roach

If we need the Americans to hold our hands we might as well not go at all.

Daniele Mandelli

Oh, what a tease.

Loved the Harrier. A Brit icon.

David Barry

Are any in flying condition, preserved? You are so right about the icon though.

Nick C

I believe that there are some in Cornwall at the school for aircraft handling. They are Sea Harriers and they can certainly start up and taxi, so they can give the makee/learnee’s some practice on a dummy deck with real aircraft and all the noise and jet wash they will get when they do it for real.

George Royce

I think we should have made a modern version of it long ago. Instead we waited for the overpriced F35. Let’s hope it lives up to the job, but it can only carry 4 bombs.

ETH

4 bombs internally, or 10 in total with external carriage – that’s not too bad if you ask me. It all depends on the mission set. Not to mention 8 SPEAR + 2 Meteor can all be carried internally.

George Royce

The issue is, if it’s going to be kitted out for the ground attack mission, there’s no point in carrying meteors when it could be taking up space. The role of air to air will be for an F35B with just missiles, the Eurofighter and or the Tempest in future. Also, the Spear is just for tanks and ground troops. If we’re going to attack structures like bridges, and do so in a contested envionrment, it can only carry 4 bombs. If we achieve air superiority then we can go with external hardpoints as the need to be stealth might… Read more »

ETH

2 Meteor is always beneficial to have incase you meet enemy fighters resisting your A2G mission. Your ‘can only carry 4 bombs’ is again misleading. What other aircraft on the market can carry 4 bombs internally whilst remaining extremely difficult to detect by radar? If we make a fair comparison, the F35 can carry 4 bombs internally whilst something like the F15 can carry 0 internally. I would like to point out there is no credible payload benefit of the C version over the B for the UK, there aren’t any planned weapons in service which are heavy enough to… Read more »

spyintheskyuk

Interestingly I watched a video on this a few days back and why a modern supersonic Harrier wasn’t practical as obviously originally one was proposed. It seems the nozzle design was rejected for the F35early on because it would have made stealth impossible and so unless you want to make your modern Harrier a beacon in the sky you would simply not use that system. Despite the obvious similarities I was still surprised that the F35 system is based on Lockheed developments from the late 80s and 90s which in final form was based on technology cooperation and ultimately acquired… Read more »

geoff

Now there is a headline that says it all!! I still think we missed a huge opportunity way back in the 1960’s when Labour cancelled the Supersonic Harrier. It had it’s problems but the sons of that aircraft over the years, would have been world beaters and the experience gained would have enabled the UK to develop a 21st Century STOVL fighter as grandson of P 1154 that would have been without peer. I know it is a pretty futile exercise playing what if, but still of all the wasted opportunities that litter the history of the British Aircraft industry… Read more »

DaveyB

Totally agree, there was the upgrade to the Sea Harrier 2 that got canned due to US insistence. This was the BAe designed “big wing”. It was wider and had a more up to date profile. The wing would give the Sea Harrier, 3 under wing hardpoint plus the option of mounting a sidewinder on the wing tip. The blurb also said that the dive speed (VNE) would be Mach 1.3, so it would have been a little bit quicker, but perhaps more importantly was that the wing held more fuel. Unfortunately, this would have put it in direct competition… Read more »

geoff

Indeed Davey. it seems we are victims of America First and indeed France First in collaborative projects.

Paul T

Thanks Davey ,i wasn’t aware of the Enhanced Sea Harrier to be honest,another case of ‘What If’ im sure.

spyintheskyuk

Yes it was given up as the cost of gaining preferential entry to the F-35 programme which as we know effectively cost us further development of the Replica project at least in timescale as much is admittedly being fed into the Tempest programme. I guess time will tell how it all works out, though I doubt that will ever come to a natural conclusion. I do wonder how things would have developed on all sorts of programmes had DASA and Bae combined as originally planned. Whatever its effect on Bae now that it as a result inevitably turned to the… Read more »

Frank62

Pity we didn’t keep our Harrier force to add capacity to our QE’s until we have enough F35s. Still very useful in many circumstances.