Tag Archives: McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II

[Video] U.S. Marine Corps Osprey tilt-rotor aircraft and (armed) Harrier refueled over the Mediterranean Sea

Marines AV-8B Harrier jet and MV-22 Osprey aircraft from USS Bataan get refueled by KC-130s from Sigonella airbase.

The following video shows fixed-wing and rotary-wing aerial refueling exercise, involving AV-8B and MV-22s, over the Mediterranean Sea with Special Purpose Marine Air- Ground Task Force (SP-MAGTF) Crisis Response KC-130s in June 2014.

Interestingly, the Harrier carries a single GBU-12 500-lb LGB (Laser Guided Bomb) on the right hand underwing pylon. The bomb seems to be marked with a yellow stripe (barely visible, painted on the olive drab color aft of the front guidance kit) which indicates the presence of explosive: in other words, it’s not an inert weapon.

The reason for carrying live ordnance is unknown. Most probably the aircraft were armed and ready to provide support to the evacuation of the U.S. embassy in Tripoli, which eventually took place on Jul. 26 amid continuing clashes between rival militias.

 

Here’s what a Harrier Jump Jet’s vertical landing at night looks like through NVG vision

Harrier Nighttime Flight Deck Operations

Top image shows an AV-8B Harrier preparing to land on the flightdeck of amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8) during night operations.

What makes the picture particularly interesting is the characteristic NVG signature of the Jump Jet about to land on the flight deck of the ship.

Makin Island is the flagship of the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group and, with the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit, is deployed in the Arabian Sea and it is going to replace USS Bataan, whose AV-8B Harriers of the 22nd MEU have conducted surveillance missions over ISIS forces in northern Iraq.

Here below is an interesting video showing AV-8B+ Harrier jets on the flight deck of USS Kearsarge sailing off the coast of North Carolina back in 2013.

The Jump Jets belong to the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 266 (Reinforced) of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).

 

Top Image credit: U.S. Marine Corps

 

Rare video of Marines AV-8B Harrier no nose gear vertical landing on amphibious assault ship

One of the few (if not the only) video showing a Harrier Jump Jet (nose) gear up landing on USS Bataan.

Here’s something you don’t see every day.

On Jun. 7, 2014, U.S. Marine Corps Capt. William Mahoney, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263 (Reinforced), 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), had to perform Vertical Landing on USS Bataan, after his AV-8B Harrier aircraft experienced a front landing gear malfunction.

USS Bataan was operating in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations to augment U.S. Crisis Response forces in the region when Mahoney took off from the amphibious assault ship.

As he was climbing away from the deck he suddenly realized he had a gear malfunction. He immediately slowed down in order not to overspeed the landing gear, returned above the ship at 2,000 feet and started talking to “Paddles” (LSO – Landing Signal Officers), a pilot in the control tower who could provide assistance by radio.

Harrier no nose gear down

The Harrier flew the approach at 300 ft so that the LSO could see the landing gear and give some guidance to put the nose on a tool the ship has for this kind of issues: a sort-of stool.

Since there’s no way to train to land in this kind of situation, the pilot had to fly a perfect vertical landing, using the ship lighting system and the help of LSO on his first attempt.

Luckily, he stabilized at 20 feet and managed to land in the proper spot as shown in the video (that, weirdly, was removed by the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet feed that had published it; luckily, we found it again and reuploaded it since it is unclassified and released as you can see in the first frames of the footage).

 

[Photo] Tidal Wave of Sand and Dust approaching Camp Bastion in Afghanistan

An interesting image of Camp Bastion eerily still as a sandstorm approaches one of the main strategic bases in Afghanistan.

As already explained, sandstorms move extremely fast and can completely darken large areas in a very short time.

Airfields in Afghanistan can be particularly affected by such phenomena. Camp Bastion, Helmand, the main strategic base in the southwestern part of the country (that includes U.S. Camp Leatherneck and UK’s Camp Bastion), where several aircraft are deployed, is one of them.

The image in this post, taken by Cpl Daniel Wiepen and published on social media by Imagery Team at the UK Ministry of Defence, shows what a tidal wave of sand and dust approaching the base looks like.

If you want to see what a similar scene looks like from inside a C-130J click here.

On Sept. 14, 2012, a squad of 15 Taliban fighters breached the perimeter fence and launched an assault on the airfield, that took out several US Marine Corps Harriers with the loss of two Marines including the Harrier squadron commander. Since then, base security spending has increased and the size of the mixed Task Force which provide Camp Leatherneck and Camp Bastion’s security has nearly tripled.

Interestingly, the above image shows also one of the two white “spy blimps” that along with next-generation cameras, ground-based observational surveillance systems, and a tiny drone, support the Task Force.

If you want to see the image of the sandstorm at higher resolution click here.

Image credit: Crown Copyright

 

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Italy to axe more F-35s and one aircraft carrier (which appears on eBay)

Italy’s new Government is considering another cut of its order of 90 F-35s. But the Spending Review is targeting Rome’s older aircraft carrier. Which has already appeared on eBay.

Although nothing has been decided yet, it’s hard to believe the current plan to buy 90 F-35 to replace the aging fleet of Tornado IDS, AMX (Italian Air Force) and AV-8B+ (Italian Navy) will survive the cuts already announced by the new Renzi cabinet.

Italy plans to save 3 billion Euro (4.18 billion USD) in defense savings over the next three years, money that will come from the sale of some barracks and military buildings, from a reduction of the personnel, and from cuts to some top spending programs, first of all the F-35, on which the government has so far committed to spend some 12 billion Euro.

Dealing with the F-35, the order will be “revised,” meaning that cuts are certain, considering the amount of attention and criticism that surround the program. But, it is almost impossible to predict the extent of the revision.

Some media outlets have foreseen a drastic cut to 45 planes, half of the current plan, and about one third of the initial requirement, set to 131 Joint Strike Fighters.

The center-left PD (Democratic Party) defense committee has just published a paper about the current state of Italy’s weapons systems, highlighting the need for a significant reduction on F-35 procurement, because:

  • the program does not guarantee industrial gains for Italian industry
  • is characterized by too much variability (in terms of cost)
  • current costs do not include armament
  • Italy will not be allowed to access core sensitive technology, an embargo which “determines a factor of operational dependency on American political-industrial instances

The 10-page paper (in Italian, can be downloaded here) envisages an Air Force with two front line combat planes: the F-35 and the Eurofighter Typhoon. Noteworthy, the document highlights the multi-role capability demonstrated by the latter; it seems quite likely that, sooner or later, considered the cuts to the F-35s, the Italian Air Force (that so far has employed the Typhoon as an air superiority platform) will eventually commit its F-2000s to the air-to-surface role as done by the UK since Libya Air War.

Another issue raised by the document is the cost of the “operational redundancy” caused by the Italian Navy’s two aircraft carriers. The most obvious candidate to be scrapped is the Garibaldi, Italy’s first post-war aircraft carrier.

The Garibaldi, joined by the larger and more capable Cavour in 2008, could be sold to some emerging country looking for second-hand helicopter carrier capable to support Amphibious Assault operations.

In the meanwhile, you can place a bid to buy the Italian aircraft carrier on the auction someone has wryly put on eBay.

Garibaldi on eBay

 

Image credit: Lockheed Martin (top); eBay screenshot (above).

 

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