MARINE CORPS FIXED-WING AIRCRAFT

Marine Corps fixed-wing aircraft support the MAGTF in all six functional warfare areas. In support of the Commandant's Planning Guidance, a strategy of "necking down" the number of aircraft models is being implemented. In the future, the Marine Corps inventory will consist of two or three fixed-wing aircraft types. This reduction supports the expeditionary nature of the MAGTF by reducing aviation's logistical footprint. Replacement of the AV-8B and the F/A-18 with the STOVL version of JSF will further the goal of achieving an all-STOVL aviation component.
 
 
 

THE JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER

The family of JSF aircraft will include a STOVL variant for the U.S. Marine Corps and the Royal Navy. Marine Corps requirements for this aircraft are focused on readiness, expeditionary capability, and the combined arms concept. The primary missions for the Marine Corps Joint Strike Fighter will remain close air support, interdiction, and anti-air warfare. Secondary missions will include suppression of enemy air defenses, command and control of aircraft and missiles, and reconnaissance. Delivery of this aircraft, beginning about 2008, will begin the final phase of the Marine Corps drive for an all-STOVL aviation component, and will solve its fixed-wing aging and attrition problems.

AV-8B HARRIER II

The AV-8B Harrier is a single-seat, light attack aircraft that provides offensive air support to the MAGTF. By virtue of its vertical/short takeoff or landing capability, the AV-8B can operate from a variety of amphibious ships, from rapidly constructed expeditionary airfields, from forward sites (e.g., roads), and from damaged conventional airfields. This makes the aircraft particularly well-suited for providing dedicated close air support.

There are three variants of the aircraft currently in service: the Day Attack, Night Attack, and Radar/Night Attack Harrier. The Night Attack Harrier improved upon the original AV-8B design through incorporation of a Navigation, Forward-Looking Infrared (NAVFLIR) sensor, a moving map, night vision goggle compatibility, and a higher performance engine. The current Radar/Night Attack Harrier, or Harrier II+, has all the improvements of the Night Attack aircraft plus the AN/APG-65 multimode radar. The fusion of night and radar capabilities allows the Harrier to be responsive to the MAGTF's needs for expeditionary, night and adverse weather, offensive air support.

The ongoing "remanufacture" program, in which 72 day-attack aircraft from the current inventory are being rebuilt to the Radar/Night Attack standard, extends the service life of these Harrier aircraft into the next century, and greatly improves their warfighting capabilities. Existing Harriers are also being upgraded through the use of COTS technology. The Open Systems-Common Architecture program will replace the existing Harrier Mission Computer with a COTS system that can be more affordably upgraded and maintained. The aircraft's weapons and communications systems will continue to be upgraded until it is replaced by the JSF.

EA-6B PROWLER

The EA-6B provides electronic warfare support to the MAGTF. The Prowler is used to intercept, interpret, and record enemy electronic emissions. Information from such intercepts can be disseminated to other agencies while the crew is still airborne or after post-mission processing of recorded data. The aircraft also provides active radar jamming support to both attack and assault support aircraft, as well as ground units. Lethal capability against enemy air defenses is provided by HARM.

Marine EA-6B squadrons are unique in regard to their integration with the Tactical Electronic Processing and Evaluation System (TERPES). This organic electronic reconnaissance and processing system provides the MAGTF commander with valuable Tactical Electronic Order of Battle information and access to national sensors. The system and its supporting analysts are colocated with the EA-6B squadron and other tactical aircraft requiring support.

The ongoing Block 89A upgrade program will address structural and supportability problems associated with the aging aircraft fleet. The upgrade also includes numerous avionics improvements for safety of flight and joint interoperability, including the ICAP-III program upgrade that Navy Prowlers are undergoing.

F/A-18A/C HORNET

The F/A-18 Hornet fulfills both the offensive air support and anti-air warfare mission areas. The maintainability, reliability and multimission capabilities of the F/A-18 make it particularly well-suited to the needs of the MAGTF in an expeditionary environment.

F/A-18Cs delivered since FY 1990 have increased night and marginal weather capability. This improvement comes through incorporation of several avionics updates, including a color moving map display, night vision goggle-compatible lighting and a NAVFLIR sensor. These capabilities, as well as a wide range of compatible air-to-air and air-to ground weapons and a precision targeting system make the Hornet a versatile multimission platform.

Procurement of new F/A-18Cs for the Marine Corps ended in FY 1996. The aircraft's weapons and communications systems will continue to be upgraded until it is replaced by JSF.

F/A-18D HORNET

The F/A-18D is a two-seat version of the F/A-18C Hornet. Like the single-seat variant, the F/A-18D provides offensive air and anti-air warfare support to the MAGTF. The aircraft also functions in the control of aircraft and missiles mission area by acting as a Forward Air Controller (Airborne)/ Tactical Air Controller (Airborne) (FAC(A)/TAC(A)) and by providing Strike Control and Reconnaissance (SCAR). Like later model F/A-18Cs, the D model's avionics suite allows it to conduct night operations below the weather using night vision goggles and FLIR systems.

In the future, an additional warfare area aerial reconnaissance will be added to the aircraft's repertoire. The Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System will permit the F/A-18D to provide real-time aerial imagery to the MAGTF, naval forces at sea, or joint forces ashore via a digital data link. This system is scheduled for deployment in FY 1999.

KC-130 HERCULES

The KC-130 is a multi-role, multimission tactical tanker and transport aircraft, well-suited to the mission needs of the forward-deployed MAGTF. The only long-range assault support capability organic to the Marine Corps, this aircraft provides both fixed-wing and rotary-wing tactical in-flight refueling; rapid ground refueling of aircraft or tactical vehicles, assault air transport of air-landed or air-delivered personnel, supplies and equipment; command and control augmentation; pathfinder; battlefield illumination; tactical aeromedical evacuation; and search and rescue support. The new KC-130J, with its increase in speed, range, improved air-to-air refueling system, night systems, and survivability enhancements, will provide the MAGTF commander with a state-of-the art, multimission, tactical aerial refueler/transport well into the 21st century.
 
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