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WATCH: Here’s why they call the Harrier a ‘jump jet’

A Navy AV-8B Harrier "Jump Jet" practices vertical landings and short takeoffs aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (AiirSource Military/YouTube)
May 04, 2016

Landing a military jet on to an aircraft carrier is a delicate process that requires precision, teamwork and years of experience. The multi-million dollar aircraft must be expertly maneuvered onto a tight aircraft carrier that sways back and forth against the ocean waves.

While plenty of military jets take off and land in a similar fashion to commercial airplanes, the AV-8B Harrier, nicknamed the “Jump Jet,” offers pilots a unique way of getting on and off the carrier that allows for quicker deployment and easier landings in tighter conditions.

A Navy AV-8B Harrier “Jump Jet” practices vertical landings and short takeoffs aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (AiirSource Military/YouTube)

In a video posted to YouTube, the pilot of a U.S. Navy AV-8B Harrier can be seen demonstrating his skills aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard. The video clip features vertical landings with the aircraft hovering like helicopter, and ear-splitting take-offs along an incredibly short runaway.

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Check out the Jump Jet in action in the video below:

In the video, the aircraft appears to hover like a helicopter as it slowly approaches the runway. As it touches down, the jet seems to playfully bounce off the tarmac as its menacing engines power off.

The aircraft carrier’s runway is just barely wide enough for the jump jet to turn around and head to the far end as it prepares to take off again. In just five seconds, the powerful Harrier goes from a complete stop to screaming towards the skies.

A Navy AV-8B Harrier “Jump Jet” practices vertical landings and short takeoffs aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (AiirSource Military/YouTube)

Also part of the coordinated take off and landing procedures are the various crewmen aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard. The ship houses more than 1,600 crew when at sea who take care of the various aircraft that come and go down the runaway.

The ship can carry six Harrier jump jets at once along with nearly two dozen helicopters. The 843-foot ship can cruise across the ocean at 22 knots and weighs a staggering 41,000 tons fully loaded.

A Navy AV-8B Harrier “Jump Jet” practices vertical landings and short takeoffs aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard (AiirSource Military/YouTube)

The AV-8B Harrier was originally developed in the mid 1980’s by McDonnell Douglas. The aircraft has seen a number of revisions and refreshes over the years and is now managed by Boeing.

Today, 337 Harriers are in use around the world by not only the U.S., but by the Italian and Spanish Navies as well.