Military Aviation

Iconic USMC AV-8B Harrier jump jet flies final public performance at Cherry Point Air Show

AV-8B Harrier jump jet flies final public performance

On May 11 and 12, 2024, Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point (NC) opened to the public under perfect weather conditions for the MCAS Cherry Point 2024 Air Show. Spectators witnessed the final public performance of the iconic AV-8B Harrier II.

“This year includes a demonstration of the AV-8B Harrier II for its last performance at the MCAS Cherry Point Air Show as we continue to transition to the F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter,” Maj. Gen. Scott Benedict, the commanding officer of the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, said in a released statement according to Military.com. “The AV-8B Harrier II has been a hallmark of Havelock and the surrounding communities, having had more than a 40-year presence in eastern North Carolina after first arriving to MCAS Cherry Point in January 1984.”

As reported by Scramble Magazine, the aircraft that took part in the air show belonged to Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 231 Ace of Spades. VMA-231 is the last frontline unit flying the AV-8B II-plus.

The AV-8B

In March 2024 the unit completed its last Harrier deployment with the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group and the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, that operated in the Middle East and Mediterranean Sea for more than eight months.

An AV-8B Harrier attached to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 162 (Reinforced), 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (Special Operations Capable) (MEU(SOC)), takes off from amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) during flight operations, Dec. 26, 2023.

VMA-231 is slated to transition to the F-35B Lightning II at the beginning of 2025 and will achieve safe flight status with six STOVL jets by the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2026. The squadron will receive a total of 16 F-35Bs.

The AV-8B Harrier II has 22,000 pounds of thrust that enable the aircraft to hover like a helicopter, then soar forward like a jet at incredible speeds. The AV-8B Harrier II was the first vertical/short takeoff and landing-capable jet in the Marine inventory. The invention of the Harrier has given the Marine Air Ground Task Force commanders the ideal blend of firepower and mobility. The Harrier is used for multiple missions, which include attacking and destroying surface and air targets, escorting helicopters, engaging in air-to-air defense, providing reconnaissance, and applying offensive and defensive support with its missiles, bombs, and an onboard 25mm cannon.

MCAS Cherry Point 2024 Air Show

Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing hosted a diverse lineup of aerial and ground, military and civilian performers during the 2024 MCAS Cherry Point Air Show, May 11-12, at MCAS Cherry Point, North Carolina. MCAS Cherry Point and the 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing proudly hosted their bi-annual air show as a heartfelt expression of gratitude to the neighboring communities and esteemed partners whose unwavering support has been instrumental in ensuring the triumph of our missions. (Video is altered to blur out screens for security purposes).

The B-roll footage below captures the impressive capabilities of the VMA-231 AV-8B Harrier II jet as it takes center stage at the MCAS Cherry Point 2024 Air Show.

Video: Staff Sgt. Theodore Bergan / U.S. Marine Corps

Photo credit: Michael Pereckas from Milwaukee, WI, USA via Wikipedia and Sgt. Matthew Romonoyske-Bean / U.S. Marine Corps

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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