U.S. Marine Corps graduates last two AV-8B Harrier II student pilots > 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing > Article views

U.S. Marine Corps graduates last two AV-8B Harrier II student pilots > 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing > Article views

U.S. Marines completed the AV-8B Harrier II training briefing at Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, the last of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s (MAW) AV-8B Harrier II Fleet Replacement Detachment (FRD) Two student pilots graduated. , North Carolina, March 29, 2024, marks a new milestone as the service transitions from the Legacy Tactical Aircraft (TACAIR) platform to his F-35 Lightning II.

Col. Joshua Corbett of Mendham, N.J., and Col. Sven Jorgensen of Lewisburg, Tenn., completed their final training flights in the 2nd MAW AV-8B Harrier II FRD and were the last two to receive medals. He became a Marine Corpsman. 7509 Military Occupational Specialty. AV-8B Harrier II Reserved for qualified pilots. In addition to marking a milestone in the Marine Corps’ transition to his F-35 Lightning II, the culmination of the training represents a significant event in the Harrier’s legacy.

More than 40 years ago, the arrival of the original AV-8B Harrier II in 2nd MAW in January 1984 represented the peak of technological innovation at the time. The platform’s predecessor, the British-made AV-8A Harrier, entered the Marine Corps inventory in 1971. The aircraft’s vertical short takeoff and landing (VSTOL) capabilities created a new approach to tactical aircraft operations, allowing tactical aircraft to operate from remote locations. This includes not only small amphibious ships but also landings from relatively unprepared and dispersed locations on the battlefield. His second version of the platform, the McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II, achieved double the range or payload of his AV-8A with the same VSTOL capabilities.

After commissioning and completing basic school in Quantico, Virginia, Corbett and Jorgensen were stationed at Naval Air Station Pensacola (NAS), Florida, for entry-level flight school. They then began flight training on T-6 Texan II aircraft at NAS Corpus Christi, Texas. After successfully completing this part of the training, they began training in his T-45 Goshawk. After completing their training in the T-45, Jorgensen and Corbett were commissioned as naval aviators and deployed to the FRD, where they began training in the AV-8B Harrier II in October and November 2022, respectively.

The pilots, who were scheduled to train on the AV-8B Harrier until 2021, were sent to Marine Attack Training Squadron (VMAT) 203, a fleet replacement squadron based at Cherry Point, North Carolina. VMAT-203 was decommissioned on October 29, 2021 in accordance with the Force Design Initiative and transitioned to FRD under 2nd MAW Marine Aircraft Group 14 and procured aircraft from Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 223.

According to many pilots, the aircraft’s VSTOL capabilities also mean it is more difficult to learn to operate compared to other TACAIR platforms. The Replacement Pilot Training Requirement remained one of the longest and more difficult Fleet Replacement Training Requirements in the Marine Corps. Corbett and Jorgensen’s training at FRD began with a familiarization syllabus. However, the Harrier’s VSTOL capabilities differ from the Marine Corps’ familiarity with other platforms.

“The biggest difference for us is the syllabus that we get used to first,” Jorgensen says. “The Harrier has vertical take-off and landing capabilities, so you have to completely re-learn how to fly.”

The Harrier FRD students then underwent the same step-by-step approach to flying the aircraft as other TACAIR pilots, Jorgensen said.

This approach has been used to train numerous Harrier pilots for over 40 years. Their final flight was a low-altitude close air support training sortie, the culmination of their training in the FRD and represented the importance of close air support to pilots in the Harrier community.

Asked about the importance of close air support for Harrier pilots, Corbett said, “As any Marine knows, the infantry has always been the main force.” “That 19-year-old, that 20-year-old with a rifle and causing harm…that’s the whole reason the rest of the Marines are there, to support that Marine. Close air support is the Harrier’s. As pilots, it is the most direct way we can influence the fight in favor of Marines.”

During its more than 40-year history, the 2nd MAW Harriers supported numerous operations around the world, including Operation Desert Storm, 1999 Allied Forces Operation in the former Yugoslavia, Operation Enduring Freedom, and Operation Iraqi Freedom. We have built a tradition of providing support. from the sky. The Harrier and the pilots who fly it will continue to call Cherry Point Airfield home until September 2026, when the platform fully transitions from the Marine Corps. Harrier squadrons will continue to conduct deployed operations as part of the Marine Expeditionary Force.

As part of the Force Design initiative, the Marine Corps continues its transition from the AV-8B Harrier to the F-35. The F-35B Lightning II is a short take-off vertical landing (STOVL) variant of the F-35, and like the Harrier, STOVL capabilities allow the F-35B to operate from amphibious assault ships and expeditionary airstrips. . It is 2,000 feet long. The Corbett and Jorgensen designations represent another milestone in the 2nd MAW’s continued operational transition from the traditional fixed-wing TACAIR platform to the F-35.

“The next step is to learn how to use jets in combat,” Jorgensen said. “It’s an honor to be here and I look forward to flying for years to come.”

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