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ITALIAN GOVERNMENT AUTHORIZES PURCHASE OF AV-8B HARRIER II PLUS

 ST. LOUIS, Nov. 18 ~PRNewswire~ -- The Italian government has authorized the purchase of 13 radar-equipped AV-8B Harrier II Plus aircraft for the Italian navy. The aircraft will be built under an international collaborative agreement between Italy and the United States.
 The terms of the contract, via the U.S. Naval Air Systems Command, include a not-to-exceed price of $392 million for airframes, contractor-furnished equipment, final assembly and ramp operations. The contract also includes an option for eight additional aircraft. The Italian government had notified the U.S. government in August of its intent to purchase the aircraft.
 Under the international collaborative effort, McDonnell Douglas Aerospace will serve as prime contractor, with Italian industrial partner Alenia conducting final assembly and ramp operations. Alenia will also have the capability to provide in-service support for the Italian navy aircraft. British Aerospace will continue as principal subcontractor to McDonnell Douglas on the Harrier II program.
 "This contract is strong evidence that the Harrier II Plus represents a new beginning for the Harrier program," said Pat Finneran, vice president and general manager of the AV-8. "The reason is simple: The Harrier II Plus provides a new level of expanded multimission capability for much less cost than a new-start aircraft program."
 The first AV-8B Harrier II Plus made its inaugural flight on Sept. 22, one month ahead of the contract schedule. Twenty-seven of the radar-equipped aircraft have been ordered for the U.S. Marine Corps.
 Italy will receive the first of the 13 aircraft in late 1995. The Italian navy currently has two TAV-8B Harrier II trainer aircraft that are being used to prepare its naval aviators to fly Italy's future fleet of Harrier II Plus aircraft. Three fiscal-year 1991 Harrier II Plus aircraft have been ordered for Italy; today's announcement will bring the number of Harriers in the Italian navy to 16 Harrier II Plus aircraft and two trainers.
 Italy has played a significant role in developing the Harrier II Plus by teaming with the United States and Spain in 1990 to integrate the Hughes APG-65 radar into existing night-attack Harrier II aircraft. The radar, in conjunction with the aircraft's night-attack systems, increases the pilot's ability to perform assigned missions in periods of darkness and adverse weather. The Harrier II Plus radar also provides enhanced self-defense and pilot situational awareness.
 The Harrier II Plus is equipped with an increased-thrust version of the Rolls-Royce Pegasus II engine, designated the F402-RR-408, which is found in night-attack Harrier IIs.
 The radar-equipped Harriers will meet the Italian navy's tactical requirements for a flexible, ship-based, multirole aircraft.
 "The members of the tri-national team should take pride in making this international collaboration a great success," Finneran said. "Together we have developed a cost-effective, new capability for our military forces, and with in-country industry participation, all our industrial bases will receive real technological and production benefits."
 United States participation in the Harrier II Plus program was made possible by the Nunn Amendment, which provided $17 million to help fund the U.S. share of the cost. This amendment, which was introduced in 1985 by Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Ga., chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, provides funding for military programs developed with North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies.
 The Harrier II Plus is currently undergoing flight testing, which will be completed in 1993. The Marine Corps will receive its first production aircraft in April 1993.
 The Spanish navy, which currently operates 11 EAV-8B II aircraft, has stated a need for eight Harrier II Plus aircraft and one TAV-8B trainer.
 -0- 11~18~92
 ~CONTACT: Jim Schlueter of McDonnell Douglas Aerospace, 314-233-6232~
 (MD)


CO: McDonnell Douglas Aerospace ST: Missouri IN: ARO SU: CON

BP -- LA016 -- 2367 11~18~92 12:49 EST
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Date:Nov 18, 1992
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