Final EA-6B Prowler Operational Deployment Concludes

#1
True to form, one of the most important yet unsung Western combat types of the last 30 years of combat operations has quietly completed it’s final combat deployment with little fanfare.

The venerable Grumman EA-6B Prowler was operated by both the USN and USMC since 1971 when it entered service over Vietnam as a development of the 2 seat EA-6A Intruder variant. SInce that time, and notably since 1991, the type has been indispensable to operations, particularly after the USAF retired the EF-111 ‘Spark-Vark’ in the late 90s. During the intervening years, the type has evolved from a pure Electronic Attack (EA) jamming role targeting hostile threat radars to an asset offering kinetic strike options via the AGM-88 High Speed Anti Radar Missile (HARM). However, even in the Land-dominated COIN environments of Afghanistan and Iraq, the type has proved equally critical in a wide variety of unforeseen roles. Many soldiers will have benefitted from it’s support without ever having realised it.

A great many times in the Balkans, Middle East and elsewhere, the EA support provided by EF-111s and EA-6B was critical to assets penetrating ostile MEZ. Both types were regularly deployed to Aviano where they ‘lived’ next to the Brit AWACS ‘Mole Hole’ ops facility and the young Mushroom never ceased to be impressed by the size of the Prowler as it taxied past! We maintained a great relationship with the crews as they coordinated with us closely for both C2 and EW (particularly if they accidentally jammed our comms or frequencies being listened to by SIGINT!).

The USN retired the last of their Prowlers in 2015 with its role passing to the EA-18G Growler. Now the USMC have returned their final 6 examples (from a total production run of 170) from a deployment in Al Udeid where they were committed to ops over Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

A classic type which has never gained the credit it deserved.

@ECMO1 may wish to comment further.

Regards,
MM
 
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#2
How much larger was it than the A-6 Intruder from which it was derived? And since the only jet I have seen on deck with my own eyes was Harrier GR7/9 - how much larger than that?

Here is a video from the seventies from Grumman:

 
#3
Only about 5' longer than an A6.
Just enough to fit two seats behind the pilot and EWO plus the kit.
Same wing area, EA-6 weighs about 1/2 ton more & has more fuel than A6
 
#4
How much larger was it than the A-6 Intruder from which it was derived?

EA-6A upper, EA-6B lower.

...And since the only jet I have seen on deck with my own eyes was Harrier GR7/9 - how much larger than that?...

It’s only when you stand next to a Prowler however that you realise how big it is!

It always struck me that the USN would’ve been better off producing a few 2 seat ‘KA-6Bs’ with the rear cockpit and electronics taken up by fuel. That would’ve provided considerably more giveaway than the KA-6D.

Regards,
MM
 
#5
I was about to make some wisecracks about it´s size and perspective in photo´s before I saw the crew standing next to one, they are either very short pilots or that thing is huge.

Just out of idle curiosity, do they have a gun onboard?
 
#8
I wondered how long it would be before someone brought Cavalese up.

Without wishing to detract in any way from the tragedy of that incident, perhaps we should focus on the countless other lives saved by the EA-6B and it’s crews over the last 47 years.

Regards,
MM
 
#9
I wondered how long it would be before someone brought Cavalese up.

Without wishing to detract in any way from the tragedy of that incident, perhaps we should focus on the countless other lives saved by the EA-6B and it’s crews over the last 47 years.

Regards,
MM
Oh, absolutely. Just as long as we don't overlook some really crappy airmanship while we're doing it.
 
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#10
I wondered how long it would be before someone brought Cavalese up.

Without wishing to detract in any way from the tragedy of that incident, perhaps we should focus on the countless other lives saved by the EA-6B and it’s crews over the last 47 years.

Regards,
MM
I assume they also supported U.K. forces in the sandbox to help counter the IED threat?
 
#11
I assume they also supported U.K. forces in the sandbox to help counter the IED threat?
Yep. They provided a variety of support to UK forces.

Regards,
MM
 
#14
I wondered how long it would be before someone brought Cavalese up.

Without wishing to detract in any way from the tragedy of that incident, perhaps we should focus on the countless other lives saved by the EA-6B and it’s crews over the last 47 years.

Regards,
MM
Me too but the fact that they or someone destroyed the video tape of the flight , incident is beyond what the Marines are supposed to stand for.
 
#15
Me too but the fact that they or someone destroyed the video tape of the flight , incident is beyond what the Marines are supposed to stand for.
I couldn’t agree more; in my view that was worse than the actual poor airmanship and discipline which led to the incident.

Equally, I do not believe it is representative of the professionalism of an entire community.

Regards,
MM
 
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#16
Only had the pleasure of seeing one of Cherry Point's EA-6B once and that was RAF Mildenhall Air Fete '97 (cannot find my photos unfortunately). Had a chat with one of the crew (cannot remember if he was the pilot or one of the three ECMOS) but was a Major.

Interesting enough he told me that their commissioning system had changed a tad with regard to Annapolis graduates as the old system took the newly commissioned 1st Lt and straight into The Basic School to become a fully fledged USMC officer whereas in the mid 90s, they decided that the Annapolis grad woudl have to still undergo OCS thne TBS as any other officer candidate due to finding issues with leadership style...

IIRC there have been several Tornado backseaters who have had the pleasure of flying as a Prowler ECMO on Personnel Exchange Program with the USMC ....

The Prowler was later armed with AGM-45 HARM for anti radar missions as they were never armed lest with anything remotely self defense like an AIM-9L...

Farewell to an icon.

Cheers
 
#17
Only had the pleasure of seeing one of Cherry Point's EA-6B once and that was RAF Mildenhall Air Fete '97 (cannot find my photos unfortunately). Had a chat with one of the crew (cannot remember if he was the pilot or one of the three ECMOS) but was a Major.

Interesting enough he told me that their commissioning system had changed a tad with regard to Annapolis graduates as the old system took the newly commissioned 1st Lt and straight into The Basic School to become a fully fledged USMC officer whereas in the mid 90s, they decided that the Annapolis grad woudl have to still undergo OCS thne TBS as any other officer candidate due to finding issues with leadership style...

IIRC there have been several Tornado backseaters who have had the pleasure of flying as a Prowler ECMO on Personnel Exchange Program with the USMC ....

The Prowler was later armed with AGM-45 HARM for anti radar missions as they were never armed lest with anything remotely self defense like an AIM-9L...

Farewell to an icon.

Cheers
Your info is slightly out of date. After spending their 1st year summer taking a program called Leatherneck, they are commissioned 2nd Lt, then attend The Basic School at Quantico after which they enter their career pipeline. They do not do OCS at all. The change you refer to was a short term anomaly due to an issue at the USNA that dealt with a few graduating classes, odds are you met someone from one of those classes?
 
#18
IIRC there have been several Tornado backseaters who have had the pleasure of flying as a Prowler ECMO on Personnel Exchange Program with the USMC...
The RAF WSO exchange was on USN EA-6Bs at NAS Whitney Island. It’s now on EA-18G at the same location.

The Prowler was later armed with AGM-45 HARM...
You’re mixing designations; AGM-45 was the Shrike as used by RAF Vulcans in the Falklands. The EA-6B used the AGM-88 HARM.

Regards,
MM
 
#19
A lifelong friend used to be a Naval Aviator flying the USMC A-6 back Vietnam era. He always told me how huge they were compared to other two seat jets. Apparently they have a large equipment bay entered from below.
When my friend and his Naval Flight Officer (weapons/electronics guy) went cross country they were the envy of USAF pilots. The AF guys had to travel with all they carried in a compartment in the removable seat cushion. My friend and his NFO would pull up near a USAF flight crew, climb up into the compartment and remove two suitcases and two golf bags.

Back during Desert Shield my now former wife was USNR, activated to Norfolk Naval Station. I visited and stayed with her in the BOQ near the airfield there. Both the A6 and EA6 planes based there looked damn big to me.

Bit of trivia re Prowlers. The Navy and USMC Prowler pilots are sometimes called Queers. Nothing to do with sexual preference but because Navy Prowler squadrons were designated VAQ AND VMAQ. The "Q" and the fact that electronic warfare is a bit odd gave them the nickname.
 
#20
I can’t validate this and I cannot recall where I read it but...

Iraq 1991
The RAF would state U.S. call signs for wild weasel and EW ops over the net in order to convince Iraqi SAM radars to shut down?

If that’s true then it just underwrites how effective these guys are!
 

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