On 14 May, a Grumman EA-6B Prowler was delivered to the Hickory Aviation Museum in North Carolina from the US Marines Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 1 (VMAQ-1).
The Prowler is an amazing aircraft, but not perhaps the prettiest (!) and not one seen often exhibited in aviation museums, which is a shame because its beauty is in its rugged functionality.
The EA-6B is an electronic warfare aircraft designed to jam enemy radar systems, gather radio intelligence on air defense systems, and suppress them if need be with anti-radiation missiles. To do that it carries a crew of up to four; a pilot and three (or 2) Electronic Countermeasures Officers. It has been in service with the US Navy and US Marines since 1971. The Navy have phased theirs out already. The Marines will have de-commisioned all theirs by 2019.
Fighters, bombers and other attack aircraft get all the kudos & glamour, but because of their role, it was usually the EA-6B crews who were first in harm’s way, clearing the road for the heroes behind them!
In more recent operations, Marine Prowlers have kept troops safe by suppressing the mobile phone signals used to detonate IEDs*, and there are un-confirmed reports that a Prowler was used to jam Pakistani air defence radar to cover the retreat of the Navy Seals who killed Osama Bin Ladin.
* According to Gunnery Sgt Ki Kimball VMAQ-1
Image: CC Flickr/Stuart.Mike