Tag Archives: AV-8B Harrier

Meanwhile, U.S. Marine Corps AV-8B Harrier jump jets continue to pound Daesh in Libya

USMC Harriers aboard USS Wasp launch “frequent” airstrikes against ISIS in Libya.

Operation Odyssey Lightning kicked off on Aug. 1, when the U.S. launched a new round of air strikes against Islamic State positions in northern Libya following a request by the Libyan Government of National Accord (GNA) to support GNA-affiliated forces seeking to defeat Daesh in Sirte.

Although the first raids were conducted by U.S. Air Force MQ-9 Reaper drones as well as by AH-1W helicopters operating from the U.S. amphibious assault ship USS Wasp, since then, the majority of the attacks were launched by the AV-8B and AV-8B+ Harriers with the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 264 (Reinforced) – VMM-264, the composite squadron that constitute the Aviation Combat Element of the 22nd MEU (Marine Expeditionary Unit).

From the beginning of Operation Odyssey Lightning to Aug. 29, the U.S. aircraft have completed 92 airstrikes.

The STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) aircraft have carried out Precision Guided Munition attacks on a wide variety of targets, including Vehicle-Borne Improvised Explosive Device, trucks with mounted heavy artillery, supply trucks and many “enemy fighting positions.”

Based on the images released by AFRICOM so far, the Jump Jets (both AV-8B and AV-8B+ variants) have almost always carried 500-pound GBU-38 Joint Direct Attack Munitions (JDAMs) along with two drop tanks (with the AV-8B+ carrying also the Litening targeting pod) during day and night missions.

The following videos show some interesting footage filmed on the flight deck of USS Wasp during the Libya air campaign.

Noteworthy, six British handlers from Culdrose, UK, are serving aboard the amphibious assault ship to get real life experience of safely operating fast jets and helicopters on a flight deck and prepare to what they’ll be doing on HMS Queen Elizabeth in a couple of time.

Salva

Commanding Officer of the Harrier squadron decimated at Camp Bastion among the Marines killed in the Taliban attack

The Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 “Avengers” that was decimated on Friday Sept. 14, when a force of insurgents attacked Camp Bastion, in Helmand, has not only lost two Marines and eight of the ten AV-8B+ Harrier jets deployed in Afghanistan.

According to UTSanDiego.com, Marine and family sources have confirmed that Lt. Col. Chris “Otis” Raible, commanding officer of the Yuma squadron is among the killed in action of the unprecedented attack that resulted in the destruction of six jump jets and significant damage (possibly beyond repair) to two more Harriers belonging to the VMA-211, the unit he commanded.

The VMA-211 is part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered in San Diego at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar.

Raible led the “Avengers” when the unit, deployed to Afghanistan in April 2012, relocated from Kandahar Airfield to Camp Bastion on Jul. 1 and he’s depicted in most of the images released by the U.S. Marine Corps to give account of the transfer.

Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps

Camp Bastion was in close proximity to all the units they supported and this gave the VMA-211 the opportunity to conduct more combat operations and communicate more effectively with the ground combat element.

Unfortunately neither Raible nor the rest of the “Avengers” could predict the attack that cost the U.S. the worst air loss to enemy fire in one day since the Vietnam War, that has rendered the Squadron unable to support the troops in the ground and compelled the Marine Corps to fly the remaining two airframes back home.

Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps

Marine Attack Squadron loses eight Harrier jets in worst U.S. air loss in one day since the Vietnam War

On Friday Sept. 14, at around 10.15 p.m. local time, a force of Taliban gunmen attacked Camp Bastion, in Helmand Province, the main strategic base in southwestern Afghanistan.

About 15 insurgents (19 according to some reports), wearing U.S. Army uniforms, organized into three teams, breached the perimeter fence and launched an assault on the airfield, that includes the U.S. Camp Leatherneck and the UK’s Camp Bastion, where British royal Prince Harry, an AH-64 Apache pilot (initially believed to be the main target of the attack) is stationed.

The attackers fired machine guns, rocket propelled grenades and possibly mortars against aircraft parked next to the airport’s runway. Two U.S. Marines were killed in the subsequent fighting whereas eight of 10 AV-8B+ Harrier jets of the Yuma-based Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 211 were destroyed (6) or heavily damaged (2): the worst U.S. air loss in one day since the Vietnam War.

The VMA-211 “Avengers” is part of the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing headquartered in San Diego at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar. It deployed to Afghanistan in April and relocated from Kandahar Airfield to Camp Bastion on Jul. 1.

According to Wikipedia, the VMA-211 last suffered this level of losses on Dec. 8, 1941.

Considered that the U.S. Marine Corps are believed to be equipped with slightly more than 120 AV-8B+, the attack on Camp Bastion has wiped out 1/15th of the entire U.S. Jump Jet fleet and a large slice of the Yuma-based squadron. A serious problem for the USMC, that was compelled to buy second hand RAF Harrier GR9s to keep the AV-8B+ in service beyond 2030, when it will be replaced by the F-35B.

Furthermore, the VMA-211 was the only Marine Harrier unit in Afghanistan: until the destroyed airframes will be replaced (most probably, by another Squadron), the coalition ground forces can’t count on the CAS (Close Air Support) provided by the Harrier.

Tom Meyer has contributed to this post.

Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps