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HARRIER II PLUS BEGINS OPERATIONAL SERVICE WITH MARINE CORPS

 ST. LOUIS, Aug. 6 /PRNewswire/ -- The U.S. Marine Corps and McDonnell Douglas marked the beginning of operational use of radar- equipped Harrier II Plus aircraft in ceremonies Aug. 5 at U.S. Marine Corps Air Station, Cherry Point, N.C.
 The ceremonies featured three Harrier II Plus aircraft that were delivered to Marine Air Group 14, Second Marine Aircraft Wing, which is based in Cherry Point. The aircraft, the first operational Harrier II Plus aircraft in the fleet, will be operated by Marine Attack Squadrons VMA-223, VMA-231 and VMA-542.
 "The Harrier team has taken great pride in building a program that is ahead of schedule and under budget," said Pat Finneran, vice president-general manager of the AV-8 at McDonnell Douglas. "We are delivering the Harrier II Plus, which adds a new dimension to the Marine Air-to-Ground Task Force -- around-the-clock, multimission air power within minutes of the call."
 The Harrier II Plus adds the APG-65 radar system currently used in the F/A-18 to the combat-proven AV-8B Harrier II vertical/short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) aircraft. The radar, working in conjunction with the aircraft's night-attack systems, increases the pilot's ability to perform air-to-ground and air-to-air missions in periods of darkness and allows the pilot to operate in adverse weather. The Harrier II Plus radar also provides enhanced self-defense and pilot situational awareness.
 In September 1992, the first-ever Harrier II Plus flight was accomplished by a test aircraft five weeks ahead of contract schedule. The first production Harrier II Plus made its first flight in March 1993, a full month ahead of contract schedule, and was delivered April 18 to the U.S. Naval Weapons Center at China Lake, Calif., where it is performing weapons system testing.
 The Harrier II Plus was developed under a tri-national agreement between the United States, Italy and Spain. The United States has ordered 27 Harrier II Plus aircraft, while Italy has ordered 16 aircraft with an option for eight more. In addition, Spain authorized the purchase of eight Harrier II Plus aircraft for the Spanish navy last March.
 The Marine Corps is also pursuing the remanufacture of day-attack Harrier IIs currently in the fleet into the night attack/radar-equipped Harrier II Plus configuration. The remanufacture program provides the Marines an aircraft with greatly improved capabilities and a new service life at approximately two-thirds the cost of a new Harrier II Plus aircraft.
 -0- 8/6/93
 /CONTACT: Jim Schlueter of McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, 314-233-6232/


CO: McDonnell Douglas; U.S. Marine Corps ST: Missouri IN: ARO SU:

JB-LM -- LA016 -- 0381 08/06/93 15:20 EDT
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Aug 6, 1993
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