The McDonnell Douglas AV-8B Harrier II is a family of second-generation vertical/short takeoff and landing or V/STOL ground-attack aircraft of the late 20th century. British Aerospace rejoined the project in the early 1980s, and it has been managed by Boeing/BAE Systems since the 1990s.
Developed from the earlier Hawker Siddeley Harriers, it is primarily used for light attack or multi-role tasks, typically operated from small aircraft carriers and large amphibious assault ships. Versions are used by several NATO countries, including the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, and the United States.
When the U.S. Marines go to war in the AV-8B, they have at their command an aircraft of incredible versatility and striking power. Marines depend on immediately available air power to protect their troops, and the AV-8B fits the bill. The U.S. Marine Corps is the largest user of the AV-8B, operating from Tarawa-Class amphibious assault ship or U.S. Navy carriers.