The hater’s guide to the Harrier

The AV-8B+ Harrier is an iconic plane. The British Sea Harrier arguably was the reason the United Kingdom won the Falklands War. But let’s be honest, this plane isn’t immune from being something we can poke fun at…

So, as we have done with the F-16 and the A-10, here’s the Hater’s Guide to the Harrier.

Capt. Jonathan Lewenthal and Capt. Eric Scheibe, AV-8B Harrier pilots with Marine Attack Squadron 231, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), fly over southern Helmand province, Afghanistan.

Capt. Jonathan Lewenthal and Capt. Eric Scheibe, AV-8B Harrier pilots with Marine Attack Squadron 231, Marine Aircraft Group 14, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing (Forward), fly over southern Helmand province, Afghanistan. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Gregory Moore)

Why it is easy to make fun of the Harrier

It has short range. The payload’s not much when you compare it to conventional planes. It kinda looks funny.

Also, it’s British, and have the Brits developed a good combat plane since World War II? The Spitfire wasn’t bad. But the “Spit,” like the Harrier, had the same short range problem. So, it’s…a British thing?

(U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Garry J. Welch)

Why you should hate the Harrier

Because it has a high rate of “Class A” mishaps. Because their pilots think they are carrier pilots, when all they do is land vertically (let’s see how they do when it’s trap or bolter). Because they think using a stool to replace a landing gear is cool.

Because it won’t win any races against an F-15, F-16, F/A-18, or F-22.

av-8b vertical takeoff

That vertical landing, tho… (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Mark El-Rayes)

Why you should love the Harrier

Because it can operate where other planes can’t. Runway cratered? Harriers are still in business. It holds the line when Hornets can’t. With AMRAAMs, it can shoot down anything an Eagle can. It’s GAU-12 can put the hurt on bad guys.

Because, when it was needed by the United Kingdom, it came through. For close air support, a Marine Harrier is the best option when you can’t have a Warthog.

An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (Reinforced), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, flies in position while conducting aerial refueling training operations

An AV-8B Harrier with Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 261 (Reinforced), 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, flies in position while conducting aerial refueling training operations. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Gunnery Sgt. Chad R. Kiehl)

Okay, when it comes down to it, the Harrier is, despite its foibles, one awesome jet.