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    Iconic Marine Corps Jet Harrier II Bows Out at Cherry Point Air Show

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    AV-8B Harrier II” by Jim Bauer is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    The AV-8B Harrier II, a Marine Corps icon that has been at the forefront of U.S. military operations for over four decades, made its final public demonstration at the 2024 Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point Air Show.

    McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) AV-8B ‘Harrier II’” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    Among the attendees, tens of thousands witnessed the venerable jump jet’s swan song amidst a sky etched with clouds over eastern North Carolina.

    Post-flight maintenance checks on McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) AV-8B ‘Harrier II’s’” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    Lt. Col. Paul Truog of the “Ace of Spades” squadron (Marine Attack Squadron 231) took the Harrier through its final paces in front of an 80,000-strong audience.

    McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) AV-8B ‘Harrier II’” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    “The demo is not too far from what we do every day,” Maj. Eric Scheibe, a pilot with Marine Attack Squadron 231, or VMA-231, told Military.com in a statement via email.

    McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Super Harrier II” by AV8PIX Christopher Ebdon is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

    “It showcases what the aircraft can do and what its capabilities are. It’s short takeoffs to simulated attacks. It’s nice to be able to showcase that, all the work that has gone into it. The squadron is excited.”

    Farnborough International Airshow 2014 – McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II – Spanish Navy – VA 1B-38” by lynothehammer1978 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    It was a bittersweet farewell to an aircraft that, according to Capt. Michael Fucci, has been deemed “the most rewarding aircraft” by its pilots.

    VMA-231 – Ace of Spades – 2 AV-8B+ Harrier II” by Josh Beasley is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    “This aircraft was designed to land on highways, rearm, refuel and get back to the fight,” said Capt.

    AV-8B Harrier II” by Jim Bauer is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

    The AV-8B, introduced in 1969 and modernized to the II-plus version, boasts improvements such as a powerful Rolls Royce Pegasus 11 engine and advanced targeting systems.

    UK F-35B Lightning II” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The Cherry Point Air Show marked the end of its era as the last hydraulic flight control system in the U.S. military’s fighter inventory, making way for the next-generation F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter.

    The F-35B, which Maj. Zachary Ybarra of VMFA-542 demonstrated earlier in the show, represents a leap forward with its fly-by-wire controls and precision hover capabilities.

    UK F-35B Lightning II” by Defence Images is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    The transition process for VMA-231 to incorporate the F-35B is already underway, with the squadron expected to achieve initial operational capability with six STOVL jets by the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2026.

    McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) AV-8B ‘Harrier II’” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    The Cherry Point air show’s climax included a simulated attack run by another Harrier, complete with a spectacular 800-foot wall of flames, ensuring the jet left the stage with a memorable bang.

    U.S. Navy F/A-18E Super Hornets and Italian navy AV-8B Harrier II aircraft fly over the Mediterranean Sea.” by Official U.S. Navy Imagery is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, with a history dating back to 1941, has played a pivotal role in shaping U.S. military aviation.

    An AV-8B Harrier II takes off from USS Boxer (LHD 4) during Tiger Strike 2019” by #PACOM is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    From its selection based on sunshine to its contribution to World War II and subsequent conflicts, Cherry Point stands as a testament to the evolution of Marine aviation.

    Marine Attack Squadron 214 (VMA-214) Black Sheep McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II attack aircraft” by aeroman3 is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    The air station continues to impact the region significantly, with a total population of 53,000, including active duty, retirees, civilian workforce and their families., and with a substantial economic footprint exceeding $2 billion annually.

    Relevant articles:
    8B Harrier at Cherry Point Air Show in Final Public Performance, USNI News
    About, marines.mil
    Storied Marine Corps Jet to Make Final Appearance at Cherry Point Air Show as Service Transitions to F-35, Military.com

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