AV-8B Harrier II Units of Operation Enduring Freedom

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
Lon Nordeen; Illustrator: Jim Laurier
Other Publication Information
Paperback; July 2014; 96 pages, available in PDF and E Pub formats too
Product / Stock #
Company: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site
Provided by: Osprey Publishing - Website: Visit Site

This book is the third in Osprey’s series on the Marine Corps’ Harriers in combat. It is of great interest to me, as I spent over 20 years involved in the Tactical Air Control System, as a radio repairman and comm. maintenance officer. The Marines bought the AV-8 knowing it would be used for CAS (Close Air Support), and very little else. But that’s what they want and need.

The Harrier IIs were involved in OEF from 2001 to 2013. There were only a few Harriers involved at any time, usually 8, either on an Amphibious Assault Ship (LHD) or ashore at Kandahar, Bagram or Camp Bastion. The STOVL (Short Takeoff Vertical Landing) ability of the Harrier IIs made it possible to operate off of runways that were in bad shape, often with crumbling paving and potholes.

There were two “varieties” of Harrier II used in OEF, the Night Attack Harrier and the Radar Harrier. The Night Attack was configured with a FLIR (Forward Looking IR) sensor, a special HUD with instruments, displays and lighting compatible with Night Vision Goggles. Both of these Harriers had a Leading Edge Root Extension (LERX) at the front of the wing root.

A large step forward in bombing accuracy was the addition of the LANTIRN laser pod which allowed a Harrier to spot designate a target with its own laser. The LANTIRN also has GPS capability for targeting.

The other huge leap in CAS ability was the incorporation of video and data transfer between the Ground FAC, the CAS aircraft and the Air Support Operation Center/Tactical Air Control Center. The Harrier was modified to carry the LANTIRN pod which could do day or night video of the ground, as well as the ability to see the FAC’s pictures from the Remote Optical Video Enhanced Receiver (ROVER). Since we were very careful about civilian casualties and collateral damage, it was far easier to show the “higher-ups” a picture of the situation and then get an OK to engage. The standard “nine line” CAS request is still there like it was 20 years ago, but now instead of reading it over the radio it’s done with a data link.

The 24 color plates give a nice overview of all of the participants over the years. The color plates are only left side views, but all of the aircraft used the same color scheme and markings except for personal and unit differences.

Overall Evaluation

Recommended. OEF was a long war, but there wasn’t much coverage of the aircraft used. This book fills in a gap in the USMC air history. And it’s got a great update on how CAS has evolved in the digital age

Thanks to Osprey Publishing for the new Harrier II schemes and the technology lesson, and to IPMS/USA for letting me read and review this book.


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