• The Prowler was in service with the U.S. Armed Forces from 1971 until 2019. It has carried out numerous missions for jamming enemy radar systems, and in gathering radio intelligence on those and other enemy air defense systems. From the 1998 retirement of the United States Air Force EF-111 Raven electronic warfare aircraft, the EA-6B was the only dedicated electronic warfare plane available for missions by the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Marine Corps, and the U.S. Air Force until the fielding of the Navy's EA-18G Growler in 2009. Following its last deployment in late 2014, the EA-6B was withdrawn from U.S. Navy service in June 2015, followed by the USMC in March 2019.
    Development of the EA-6A ECM aircraft followed that of the A-6A, with two early production A-6As converted to EA-6A prototypes, the first performing its initial flight on 26 April 1963. The "Electric Intruder", as it was formally known, looked very much like the A-6A, the only clear visible difference being a prominent "football" fairing on the top of the tailfin for the AN/ALQ-85 signal surveillance / receiver system. The wingtip airbrakes were also deleted in order to mount hoop antennas under the wingtips; the EA-6A retained functional fuselage airbrakes. The forward fuselage was stretched by about 20 centimeters (8 inches) to allow fit of the ECM gear.

    Not counting the two prototypes, a total of 25 EA-6As was built, including 10 rebuilds of A-6As and 15 new-production machines, the first being delivered to the Marines in 1965 and the last being rolled out in 1969. They replaced the elderly and antiquated Douglas EF-10B Skyknight in combat, providing ECM to protect strike packages. They typically flew with two drop tanks, three jammer pods, and two chaff dispenser pods. The EA-6As only saw combat in Vietnam with the Marines. At least two EA-6As were lost in Vietnam, one disappearing on an operational sortie along with its crew; the other being destroyed in an accident, with the crew ejecting safely.

    After the conflict, the EA-6As remained in service with both the Marines and Navy, it seems increasingly in the "electronic aggressor" role, used to baffle the electronic systems of participants in military training exercises. The EA-6As were given sets of upgrades to keep them useful.

    Most of these EA-6As were retired from service in the 1970s with the last few being used by the Navy with two electronic attack "aggressor" squadrons, with all examples finally retired in the 1990s. The EA-6A was essentially an interim warplane until the more-advanced EA-6B could be designed and built.
    VMCJ 1
    MCAS El Toro March 73
    DEC 82

     The Intruder Is From Marine Electronic Warfare Squadron 2
    The substantially redesigned and more advanced EA-6B was developed beginning in 1966 as a replacement for EKA-3B Skywarriors for the U.S. Navy. The forward fuselage was lengthened to create a rear area for a larger four-seat cockpit, and an antenna fairing was added to the tip of its vertical stabilizer. Grumman was awarded a $12.7 million contract to develop an EA-6B prototype on 14 November 1966. The Prowler first flew on 25 May 1968, and it entered service on aircraft carriers in July 1971. Three prototype EA-6Bs were converted from A-6As, and five EA-6Bs were developmental airplanes. A total of 170 EA-6B production aircraft were manufactured from 1966 through 1991.

    The EA-6B Prowler was powered by two Pratt & Whitney J52 turbojet engines, and it was capable of high subsonic speeds. Due to its extensive electronic warfare operations, and the aircraft's age (produced until 1991), the EA-6B was a high-maintenance aircraft, and had undergone many frequent equipment upgrades. Although designed as an electronic warfare and command-and-control aircraft for air strike missions, the EA-6B was also capable of attacking some surface targets on its own, in particular enemy radar sites and surface-to-air missile launchers. In addition, the EA-6B was capable of gathering electronic signals intelligence.

    The EA-6B Prowler was continually upgraded over the years. The first such upgrade was named "expanded capability" (EXCAP) beginning in 1973. Then came "improved capability" (ICAP) in 1976 and ICAP II in 1980. The ICAP II upgrade provided the EA-6B with the capability of firing Shrike missiles and AGM-88 HARM missiles.
    Advanced Capability EA-6B
    The Advanced Capability EA-6B Prowler (ADVCAP) was a development program initiated to improve the flying qualities of the EA-6B and to upgrade the avionics and electronic warfare systems. The intention was to modify all EA-6Bs into the ADVCAP configuration, however the program was removed from the Fiscal Year 1995 budget due to financial pressure from competing Department of Defense acquisition programs.

    The ADVCAP development program was initiated in the late 1980s and was broken into three distinct phases: Full-Scale Development (FSD), Vehicle Enhancement Program (VEP) and the Avionics Improvement Program (AIP).

    FSD served primarily to evaluate the new AN/ALQ-149 Electronic Warfare System. The program utilized a slightly modified EA-6B to house the new system.

    The VEP added numerous changes to the aircraft to address deficiencies with the original EA-6B flying qualities, particularly lateral-directional problems that hampered recovery from out-of-control flight. Bureau Number 158542 was used. Changes included:

    Leading edge strakes (to improve directional stability)
    Fin pod extension (to improve directional stability)
    Ailerons (to improve slow speed lateral control)
    Re-contoured leading edge slats and trailing edge flaps (to compensate for an increase in gross weight)
    Two additional wing stations on the outer wing panel (for jamming pods only)
    New J52-P-409 engines (increased thrust by 2,000 lbf (8.9 kN) per engine)
    New digital Standard Automatic Flight Control System (SAFCS)

    The added modifications increased the aircraft gross weight approximately 2,000 lb (910 kg) and shifted the center of gravity 3% MAC aft of the baseline EA-6B. In previous models, when operating at sustained high angles of attack, fuel migration would cause additional shifts in CG with the result that the aircraft had slightly negative longitudinal static stability. Results of flight tests of the new configuration showed greatly improved flying qualities and the rearward shift of the CG had minimal impact.

    The AIP prototype (bureau number 158547) represented the final ADVCAP configuration, incorporating all of the FSD and VEP modifications plus a completely new avionics suite which added multi-function displays to all crew positions, a head-up display for the pilot, and dual Global Positioning/Inertial navigation systems. The initial joint test phase between the contractor and the US Navy test pilots completed successfully with few deficiencies.

    After the program was canceled, the three experimental Prowlers, BuNo 156482, 158542 and 158547, were mothballed until 1999. During the next several years, the three aircraft were dismantled and reassembled creating a single aircraft, b/n 158542, which the Navy dubbed "FrankenProwler". It was returned to active service 23 March 2005.
    Improved Capability (ICAP) III
    Northrop Grumman received contracts from the U.S. Navy to deliver new electronic countermeasures gear to Prowler squadrons; the heart of each ICAP III set consists of the ALQ-218 receiver and new software that provides more precise selective-reactive radar jamming and deception and threat location. The ICAP III sets also are equipped with the Multifunction Information Distribution System (MIDS), which includes the Link 16 data link system. Northrop delivered two lots and delivered two more beginning in 2010.The EA-6B Prowlers in service toward the end of its life were the ICAP III version, carrying the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System.
    Operational history
    The EA-6B entered service with Fleet Replacement Squadron VAQ-129 in September 1970, and Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 132 (VAQ-132) became the first operational squadron, in July 1971. This squadron began its first combat deployment to Vietnam on America 11 months later, soon followed by VAQ-131 on Enterprise and VAQ-134 on Constellation. Two squadrons of EA-6B Prowlers flew 720 sorties during the Vietnam War in support of US Navy attack aircraft and USAF B-52 bombers.

    During the 1983 invasion of Grenada, four Prowlers supported the operation from USS Independence (CV-62).

    Following the Achille Lauro hijacking, on 10 October 1985 Prowlers from USS Saratoga (CV-60) provided ESM support during the interception of the EgyptAir 737 carrying four of the hijackers.

    Prowlers jammed Libyan radar during Operation El Dorado Canyon in April 1986. Prowlers from VAQ-135 on USS Enterprise (CVN-65) jammed Iranian Ground Control Intercept radars, surface-to-air missile guidance radars and communication systems during Operation Praying Mantis on 18 April 1988.

    A total of 39 EA-6B Prowlers were involved in Operation Desert Storm in 1991, 27 from six aircraft carriers and 12 from USMC bases. During 4,600 flight hours, Prowlers fired over 150 HARM missiles. Navy Prowlers flew 1,132 sorties and USMC flew 516 with no losses.[11]

    With the retirement of the EF-111 Raven in 1998, the EA-6B was the only dedicated aerial radar jammer aircraft of the U.S. Armed Forces, until the fielding of the Navy's EA-18G Growler in 2009. The EA-6B was flown in almost all American combat operations from 1972 until its retirement in 2019, and was frequently flown in support of the U.S. Air Force missions.

    With the retirement of the EF-111 Raven in 1998, the EA-6B was the only dedicated aerial radar jammer aircraft of the U.S. Armed Forces, until the fielding of the Navy's EA-18G Growler in 2009. The EA-6B was flown in almost all American combat operations from 1972 until its retirement in 2019, and was frequently flown in support of the U.S. Air Force missions.

    In 2001, 124 Prowlers remained, divided between twelve Navy, four Marine, and four joint Navy-Air Force "Expeditionary" squadrons. A Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) staff study recommended that the EF-111 Raven be retired to reduce the types of aircraft dedicated to the same mission, which led to an Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) program memorandum to establish 4 land based "expeditionary" Prowler squadrons to meet the needs of the Air Force.

    Though once considered being replaced by Common Support Aircraft, that plan failed to materialize. In 2009, the Navy EA-6B Prowler community began transitioning to the EA-18G Growler, a new electronic warfare derivative of the F/A-18F Super Hornet. All but one of the active duty Navy EA-6B squadrons were based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. VAQ-136 was stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, as part of Carrier Air Wing 5, the forward deployed naval forces (FDNF) air wing that embarks aboard the Japan-based George Washington. VAQ-209, the Navy Reserve's sole EA-6B squadron, was stationed at Naval Air Facility Washington, Maryland. All Marine Corps EA-6B squadrons were located at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.

    In 2013, the USN planned to fly the EA-6B until 2015, while the USMC expect to phase out the Prowler in 2019.[13] The last Navy deployment was on George H.W. Bush in November 2014, with VAQ-134.The last Navy operational flight took place on 27 May 2015.[16] Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CVWP), hosted a retirement commemoration for the EA-6B from 25 to 27 June 2015 at NAS Whidbey Island.
    Operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria
    In 2007, it was reported that the Prowler had been used in counter improvised explosive device operations in the conflict in Afghanistan for several years by jamming remote detonation devices such as garage door openers or cellular telephones.[18] Two Prowler squadrons were also based in Iraq, working with the same mission. According to Chuck Pfarrer in his book SEAL Target Geronimo, an EA-6B was also used to jam Pakistani radar and assist the 2 MH-60 Black Hawk stealth helicopters and 2 Chinook helicopters raiding Osama Bin Laden's compound in Operation Neptune Spear.

    VMAQ-3 began flying Prowler missions against Islamic State militants over Iraq in June 2014. Once Operation Inherent Resolve began in August, VMAQ-4 took over. The Prowlers were the first Marine Corps aircraft in Syria and support strike packages, air drops, and electronic warfare requirements against militants. By January 2015, the five aircraft of VMAQ-4 had flown 800 hours during 110 sorties in support of operations in both countries, including supporting coalition airstrikes and providing EW support for Iraqi Army forces to degrade enemy systems. Marine Prowlers had not dropped munitions themselves and host nations basing them have not been revealed.

    In April 2016, a squadron of EA-6B Prowlers from Marine Corps Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 (VMAQ-4), based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina, was deployed to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey for operations over Syria. U.S. European Command confirmed that the deployment was expected to last through September 2016. The Center for Strategic and International Studies suggested that the Prowlers may be used to prevent Russian and Syrian air defense systems from tracking U.S. and coalition aircraft.

    Prowlers of VMAQ-2 completed their last operational deployment to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar in November 2018, and the squadron, the last equipped with the EA-6B, was disbanded on 8 March 2019, with its remaining two Prowlers being disposed of to museums.
    Specifications (EA-6B)
    General characteristics
    Crew: 4 (one pilot, three electronic countermeasures officers)
    Length: 59 ft 10 in (18.24 m)
    Wingspan: 53 ft (16 m)
    Height: 16 ft 8 in (5.08 m)
    Wing area: 528.9 sq ft (49.14 m2)
    Empty weight: 31,160 lb (14,134 kg)
    Max takeoff weight: 61,500 lb (27,896 kg)
    Powerplant: 2 × Pratt & Whitney J52-P-408A turbojet engines, 10,400 lbf (46 kN) thrust each
    Maximum speed: 566 kn (651 mph, 1,048 km/h)
    Cruise speed: 418 kn (481 mph, 774 km/h)
    Range: 2,022 nmi (2,327 mi, 3,745 km) (tanks kept)

    2,400 mi (2,100 nmi; 3,900 km) (tanks dropped)

    Service ceiling: 37,600 ft (11,500 m)
    Rate of climb: 12,900 ft/min (66 m/s)
    Wing loading: 116 lb/sq ft (570 kg/m2)
    Thrust/weight: 0.34
    Hardpoints: 5 total: 1× centerline/under-fuselage plus 4× under-wing pylon stations with a capacity of 18,000 pounds (8,200 kg),with provisions to carry combinations of:
    Missiles: Up to 4× AGM-88 HARM Anti-radiation missiles (typically 2x carried)
    Up to 5× 300 US gallons (1,100 L) external drop tanks
    Up to 5× AN/ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS) external pods
    AN/ALE-43(V)1&4 Bulk Chaff Dispensing System pod
    AN/AAQ-28(V) Litening targeting pod (USMC only)
    AN/ALQ-218 Tactical Jamming System Receiver
    AN/USQ-113 Communications Jamming System
     Marine Corp
    US Navy Aviation Maintenance Technicians From The Patriots Of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron One Four Zero
     The Aircraft Is From Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 141
    6B Prowler Aircraft To Its Pilot At Incirlik Air Base Turkey During Operation NORTHERN WATCH
    3 Moondogs Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point North Carolina
    6B Prowler Aircraft Into Launch Position Onboard The Nimitz Class Aircraft Carrier USS RONALD REAGAN
    6B Prowler Aircraft Fly A Refueling Mission Over Incirlik Air Base Turkey In Support Of Operation NORTHERN WATCH

    6B Prowler Aircraft From Carrier Wing Two Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron One Three One
    Powered Aircraft Carrier USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN
    6B Prowler
    Powered Aircraft Carrier USS NIMITZ

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