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This page is about the American jet fighter AV-8A. For other versions, see Harrier (Family).
GarageImage AV-8A.jpg
StoreImage AV-8A 001.jpg
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The United States Marine Corps (USMC) sought a replacement of their aging A-4 Skyhawk fleet in the 1960s. The Hawker Siddley Harrier was evaluated and found suitable for their needs for a close air support aircraft in amphibious warfare. Following the acceptance of the Harrier, McDonnell Douglas obtained the production license to build the aircraft domestically within the United States with desired changes to fit the USMC needs. The USMC would receive their first Harriers in March 1971, designated AV-8A, and known within Hawker Siddley as Harrier Mk 50. The AV-8A would serve in the USMC, alongside its upgraded version the AV-8C, until its retirement in 1987.

Introduced in Update "New Power", the AV-8A Harrier was one of the first VTOL aircraft in the United States tech tree. The AV-8A, like the other members of the Harrier family, is capable of vertical take-off and landing with its thrust vectoring nozzles, in addition to enhancing its manoeuvrability. Among the Harrier (Family), it has a higher powered engine than the Harrier GR.1, but it has the same engine as the others (Harrier GR.3 and AV-8C). A variety of payload could be equipped to suit the performance expected of the Harrier, whether it is the IR Sidewinder missiles for anti-air purposes, bombs and rockets for ground attack purposes, or both to respond to a dynamic battlefield. As such, the AV-8A can be a very flexible aircraft for players to use on the battlefield.

General info

Flight performance

Air brakes
Allows you to dramatically reduce the flight speed by releasing special flaps
Max speed
at 0 m1 156 km/h
Turn time32 s
Max altitude12 192 m
EngineRolls-Royce F402-RR-401
Cooling systemAir
Take-off weight13 t
Characteristics Max Speed
(km/h at 0 m - sea level)
Max altitude
Turn time
Rate of climb
Take-off run
Stock 1,151 1,145 12192 32.2 33.1 81.7 75.2 550
Upgraded 1,164 1,156 31.7 32.0 102.7 87.0


Combat flaps Take-off flaps Landing flaps Air brakes Arrestor gear Drogue chute
Wings (km/h) Gear (km/h) Flaps (km/h) Max Static G
Combat Take-off Landing + -
1191 648 N/A 828 556 ~14 ~6
Optimal velocities (km/h)
Ailerons Rudder Elevators Radiator
< 648 < 950 < 790 N/A

Engine performance

Engine Aircraft mass
Engine name Number Basic mass Wing loading (full fuel)
Rolls-Royce F402-RR-401 1 5,918 kg 439 kg/m2
Engine characteristics Mass with fuel (no weapons load) Max Takeoff
Weight (each) Type 10m fuel 20m fuel 30m fuel 34m fuel
1,687 kg Vectored-thrust low-bypass turbofan 6,605 kg 7,292 kg 7,978 kg 8,253 kg 12,679 kg
Maximum engine thrust @ 0 m (RB/SB) Thrust to weight ratio @ 0 m (WEP)
Condition 100% WEP 10m fuel 20m fuel 30m fuel 34m fuel MTOW
Stationary 9,071 kgf 9,625 kgf 1.46 1.32 1.21 1.17 0.76
Optimal 9,071 kgf
(0 km/h)
9,625 kgf
(0 km/h)
1.46 1.32 1.21 1.17 0.76
Msg-info.png The F402-RR-401 engine loses a significant amount of thrust as your speed increases

Survivability and armour

Aircraft countermeasures to distract IR and radar-guided missiles and also AA radar
Crew1 person
Speed of destruction
Structural1 191 km/h
Gear648 km/h

The AV-8A has no armour. The engine and all fuel tanks are packed in a tight cluster in the centre of the fuselage, which makes it quite vulnerable, as a few well-placed shots can cause major damage.

Modifications and economy

Repair cost
AB2 057 Sl icon.png
RB6 317 Sl icon.png
SB6 677 Sl icon.png
Crew training10 000 Sl icon.png
Experts850 000 Sl icon.png
Aces2 400 Ge icon.png
Research Aces1 900 000 Rp icon.png
Reward for battleAB / RB / SB
Talisman.png 2 × 110 / 300 / 600 % Sl icon.png
Talisman.png 2 × 220 / 220 / 220 % Rp icon.png
Flight performance Survivability Weaponry
Mods jet compressor.png
Mods booster.png
New boosters
Mods aerodinamic wing.png
Wings repair
Mods jet engine.png
Mods aerodinamic fuse.png
Fuselage repair
Mods armor frame.png
Mods g suit.png
Mods armor cover.png
Mods ammo.png
Mod arrow 1.png
Mods heli false thermal targets.png
Mods pilon block rocket.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods napalm fire bomb.png
Mk77 mod 4
Mods pilon bomb.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods pilon block rocket.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods air to air missile.png
Mods weapon.png
Mods pilon bomb.png
Mod arrow 0.png
Mods pilon block rocket large.png
Mods jet engine extinguisher.png
Mods pilon bomb.png


Ballistic Computer
CCIP (Guns) CCIP (Rockets) CCIP (Bombs) CCRP (Bombs)
alt={{{alt}}} alt={{{alt}}} alt={{{alt}}} alt={{{alt}}}

Offensive armament

Main article: ADEN Mk.4 (30 mm)

The AV-8A is armed with:

  • 2 x 30 mm ADEN Mk.4 cannons, belly-mounted (130 rpg = 260 total)

Suspended armament

The AV-8A can be outfitted with the following ordnance:

1 2 3 4 5
Hardpoints Harrier GR.3.png
250 lb LDGP Mk 81 bombs 1 1 1 1 1
250 lb Mk 81 Snakeye bombs 1 1 1 1 1
500 lb LDGP Mk 82 bombs 1 1 1 1 1
500 lb Mk 82 Snakeye bombs 1 1 1 1 1
1,000 lb LDGP Mk 83 bombs 1 1
Mk 77 mod 4 incendiary bombs 1 1 1 1 1
FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets 7, 19 7, 19 7, 19 7, 19
Zuni Mk32 Mod 0 ATAP rockets 4 4 4 4
AIM-9G Sidewinder missiles 1 1
Countermeasures 240
Default weapon presets
  • Without load
  • 2 x AIM-9G Sidewinder missiles
  • 28 x FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets
  • 76 x FFAR Mighty Mouse rockets
  • 16 x Zuni Mk32 Mod 0 ATAP rockets
  • 5 x 250 lb LDGP Mk 81 bombs (1,250 lb total)
  • 5 x 250 lb Mk 81 Snakeye bombs (1,250 lb total)
  • 5 x 500 lb LDGP Mk 82 bombs (2,500 lb total)
  • 5 x 500 lb Mk 82 Snakeye bombs (2,500 lb total)
  • 2 x 1,000 lb LDGP Mk 83 bombs (2,000 lb total)
  • 5 x Mk 77 mod 4 incendiary bombs
  • 240 x countermeasures

Usage in battles

The AV-8A can be considered a multirole aircraft which can focus in air-to-air combat, air-to-ground combat and air-to-sea combat. Its firepower and ordnance make it a competitive aircraft in all game modes. The roles can be divided in such:

In air-to-air combat:

The Harrier has access to AIM-9G Sidewinder air to air missiles capable of taking down all enemy aircraft in the game. The AIM-9G is a rear-aspect lock-on missile, meaning the Harrier must be behind the enemy aircraft to be able to launch the missile.

When facing enemy bombers:

Enemy bombers are the easiest targets for the Harrier both in gun strafe and when using missiles as they lack agility when dogfighting against the Harrier and countermeasures such as flares to be able to counter the missiles. However, it is unlikely to face enemy bombers besides the Vautours. AI-controlled bombers are the exception.

When facing enemy attackers:

When facing player-controlled attackers (not necessarily planes labelled as attackers but planes who focus on ground striking), the pilot must stay aware that, besides the Harrier superior mobility, they can outturn you as they will often fly at lower speeds than you, meaning their turn radius compared to yours will be much smaller. Most of the enemy planes that do CAS runs will often be enemy fighters (not labelled as attackers) but with ground ordnance, meaning they can or will be heavier than you, increasing drag and reducing agility when in a dogfight, use this as an advantage.

As an attacker/bomber:

The Harrier has access to a wide variety of ground ordnance capable of destroying enemy ground units and bases. It also has CCIP meaning the pilot has access to ground ordnance crosshairs which will increase accuracy for both rockets and bombs, as well as CCRP allowing for guided approach to target and automatic bomb release. It is advised to fly to your bombing target at as low altitude as possible (NOE flight). This approach has multiple advantages: increased radar interference from terrain masking and terrain clutter, and reduced enemy visibility and awareness. It also makes bombing more accurate, even with the help of ballistics computer. Time fuse is essential for low level bombing, to avoid hitting yourself with shrapnel from your own bombs. Ground striking ordnance should be taken at pilot's discretion, but it is recommended to take the 2 x 1,000 lb and 3 x 500 lb bombs in order to take a whole base completely and still maintain high speed. You are unable to carry any sort of anti-air missiles with this payload.

Radar interference is mostly irrelevant in air realistic battles as the plane will still be highlighted and enemy pilots could use eye aiming. However, it will interfere with radar homing missiles (SARH missiles such as AIM-7E, R-3R, etc. carried by F-4 Phantoms and MiG-21s) and will be your main line of defence when flying in simulator battles, you will be able to fly stealthily in NOE flight.

When in combined battles (ground realistic battles):

This is where the Harrier is able to shine as an attacker, primarily using VTOL and hovering mode to an advantage. There is multiple loadouts which can be used in order to make the Harrier a scary attacker.

Bomb payload - This is often the most used payload for multiple reasons: has the biggest explosion radius compared to rockets, are more forgiving when missing by couple metres, can take multiple targets with a single bomb. The use of ballistics computer makes their aiming much easier than with eye aiming both in realistic and simulator battles.

Rocket payload- This is the trickiest but most rewarding payload the Harrier can carry (rewarding as it is able to make much more kills than bombs). Tanks can be destroyed with one to three rocket salvos (launched in pairs, meaning with 2 to 6 rockets in total). This means if you take the 76 x Might Mouse rocket payload, you can get up to 12 kills if it takes you 6 rockets per tank.

VTOL trick - The Harrier can be used as a helicopter thanks to the VTOL capabilities, rockets are recommended if used like this. It is able to hide behind mountains, poke to attack and go back into cover as a helicopter would do. Handling this technique can be tricky and will require practice but is an alternate way of playing CAS.

AIM-9G are not recommended to be taken in Ground Realistic Battles as most of the air to air engagements will be within a kilometre range specially since the AIM-9G's turn radius is fairly narrow, meaning enemy planes can be engaged with the 30 mm ADEN autocannons or be taken by friendly SPAA. It is not recommended to use them against enemy helicopters either as the autocannons are sufficient for them.

Pros and cons


  • Thrust vectoring capabilities
    • Can be used during combat to temporarily boost turn rate
    • Can land and rearm on the helicopter bases in combined battles
  • AIM-9Gs are potent missiles, having a max overload of 18G and a very long burn time
  • 22 different payload options, many of which are great for bombing
  • Powerful 30 mm ADEN cannons with a generous ammo count of 260 rounds (130 per gun)
  • Has a Head-Up Display in the cockpit which provides flight information and accurate weapon aiming functionality and is useful in Simulator battles
  • Large supply of 240 countermeasures


  • Heavy airframe loses significant speed in turns
  • No Radar Warning Receiver
  • Only gets two air-to-air missiles at most
  • ADEN cannons have low velocity
  • Limited WEP and lack of afterburner
  • Engine overheats very quickly above 90% throttle
  • Using thrust vectoring in combat bleeds speed and leaves you vulnerable
  • Stiffens up in dives; this can be fatal during ground attack missions


The US military had been paying close attention to the development of British VTOL aircraft through the 1950s / 60s, taking part in the testing and evaluation of the Hawker Siddeley P.1127 / Kestrel FGA.1 (prototypes that would eventually develop into the Harrier) in the mid-1960s. At the 1968 Farnborough air show two United States Marine Corps (USMC) pilots, Col. Thomas H. Miller (eventually promoted to Lieutenant General) and Lt. Col. Bud Baker unexpectedly arrived at the Hawker Siddeley Aviation (HSA) chalet and announced they had been sent to test fly the new Harrier GR.1 aircraft. Within 2 weeks of the show both pilots had flown the Harrier and shortly after returned to the US with a very positive report of the aircraft.[1]

Within three months of the report a team of US test pilots were in the UK evaluating the Harrier and within a further five months the US had declared its intention to buy 110 Harriers by the mid 1970s. The US congress originally insisted that the Harriers should be built in the US, leading to HSA signing a 15 year agreement with McDonnell-Douglas, where McDonnell-Douglas would build the aircraft in the US and both parties would share data and designs of any aircraft related to the Harrier.[1] However later, after realizing the cost increase that would come from shifting production to the US, it was instead decided all 110 aircraft would be built by HSA in the UK. The aircraft would be purchased as "off the shelf" products with only limited modifications made from the Harrier GR.1. The US Harriers would have the more powerful Pegasus Mk 103 engine, the ability to carry two Sidewinder missiles, and other minor changes such as US radio equipment.[1]

The Harrier entered service with the USMC in 1971, under the designation AV-8A.[1]Marine Attack Squadron 513 (VMA-513) was the first squadron to receive its Harriers with VMA-231 and VMA-542 following. Shortly after it entered service the US decided to replace the British Ferranti FE 541 Inertial Navigation and Attack System (INAS) system with an American system known as "baseline". The FE 541 was an advanced system, it was able to use inertial navigation to plot the Harrier's location on a moving map in the cockpit and had various weapons aiming modes to allow for accurate bombing. The US however did not like the FE 541 finding it too complicated and difficult to maintain. In addition the FE 541 required a calibration process to be carried out before use, which could not be completed onboard a ship, severely limiting it's usefulness to the USMC. The baseline system was far simpler than the FE 541 and did not provide navigation functionality; with the removal of the large moving map display the USMC took the opportunity to change the layout of the AV-8A's cockpit making it different to that in British Harriers.[1]



See also

Links to the articles on the War Thunder Wiki that you think will be useful for the reader, for example:

  • reference to the series of the aircraft;
  • links to approximate analogues of other nations and research trees.

External links


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Fozard 1978
  • Fozard, J. (1978). The British Aerospace Harrier Case Study in Aircraft Design. American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics.

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