Flight Journal



The EA-6B Prowler first flew in 1968 and first deployed to Vietnam in 1971. The EA-6B was designed to replace the interim and less-capable EA-6A “Electric Intruder” that spanned from the years 1963 through 1993. The EA-6A was a U.S. Marine Corps two-seat Electronic Attack model based on the A-6A Intruder, and the aircraft saw widespread service in Vietnam. The Prowler also replaced the Navy’s large

Douglas EKA-3B Skywarrior, known as the “Whale,” being the premier jamming platform serving aboard carriers. The EA-6B also saw combat operations in Libya terrorist-related targets, Operation Desert Storm, Bosnia-Herzegovin­a, Kosovo, and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Around 1995, budget constraint­s forced the EA-6B and the EF-111A Raven (a U.S. Air Force jamming aircraft based on the F-111 Aardvark airframe) to be pitted against each other in a “pros versus cons” survival duel. The EA-6B won. While the EF-111A had better endurance and faster speed, it lacked the ability to be able to carry the allimporta­nt AGM-88 HARM missiles. The Prowler also brought the synergies of four individual­s working together during the mission, versus the two-man crews of the “Spark Vark.”

Over the years, the Prowler was upgraded to the ICAP, ICAP II, and finally ICAP III versions. A standard loadout were two AGM-88 HARM missiles and a trio of AN/ALQ-99 jamming pods, although other mixes could be juggled between fuel tanks, more/less pods, and more/ less HARMs. The Navy phased out their EA-6Bs as the new Growlers emerged from the assembly line, but the Marines, who did not procure any EA-18Gs, clutched on to their EA-6Bs until March, 2019, when they were finally phased out of service. As the EA-6B grew tired, they required groups of avionics techs surroundin­g the jet in what was called “starting parties” to do their best to troublesho­ot the issues as they arose. It was time for the welcomed Growler!

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