Harrier Safety Record

The Harrier jet has improved its safety rating in recent years. But it was once called the most dangerous airplane in the United States military.

The Harrier safety rating was so poor that two Los Angeles Times newspaper reporters wrote a series of stories about the jet. Those stories won a 2003 Pulitizer Prize. (See link below)

According to the Los Angeles Times in 2002, 45 marines had died in 143 non-combat crashes since the Marine Corps had started using the jets in the early 70s. Reports showed nearly a third of the fleet had been lost to crashes over three decades.

In the early 2000s, the Harrier safety record seemed to stabilize. But as the articles pointed out, several crashes in 2001, including two here in North Carolina, raised concerns once again.

Some of the issues cited over the years included the wing flaps and engine trouble. According to the Los Angeles Times articles, the Marine Corps has spent millions in corrective measures and some of the planes probably cost close to $50 million now, as opposed to the sticker price in the mid-$20 million range.

Accidents in recent years involving Cherry Point Harriers include two previous crashes this year. In May a Harrier from Cherry Point crashed in the Arizona desert, while in February another jet crashed in Carteret County at Open Ground Farms. In 2005 a Harrier crashed in Pamlico County. In July 2005, a Cherry Point Harrier crashed in Florida. And in 2006, a Cherry Point Harrier ran off a runway in New York. All pilots survived in those crashes.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Walter Location: Jacksonville on Jan 1, 2009 at 09:25 AM
    "Posted by: WITN Moderator Location: witn.com on Dec 30, 2008 at 09:40 PM We are limiting comments on this story to condolence messages to the family, friends and co-workers of Captain Bencosme. If you wish to post other comments you can do that under the Harrier Safety story. Thank you for your understanding." Now that you are controlling the comments for the stories not by the rules on the other story, it would seem to not be freedom of speech. Don't get me wrong, I am not going to say anything derogatory to the family, but that is my choice. Freedom of speech is Freedom of Speech. Good bye witn.
  • by MrT Location: LaNC on Dec 30, 2008 at 05:15 PM
    Anonymous, they are not junk. Actually it gives some advantages to the Marines. They are able to operate from forward areas that do not have paved runways.As for the Osprey, most any advanced weapon system or aircraft has a period when it is first adopted that the kinks or bugs need to be worked out.
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