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The EA-6B Prowler Has Been Retired, But Its Impact On Air Warfare Will Live On Forever

Monday, March 11, 2019   (0 Comments)

By: Tyler Rogoway  |  March 8th, 2019  |  The War Zone

It has finally happened. The EA-6B Prowler has officially been retired from service by the Marine Corps, the last operator of the type. "Prowler Sundown" has been creeping slowly closer ever since the U.S. Navy retired the aircraft back in July of 2015. The end of the Prowler also marks the end of an incredibly successful legacy for Grumman's A-6 Intruder family of aircraft that reaches back six decades. 

It all began with the YA2F-1, an incredibly ambitious carrier-based strike aircraft with thrust vectoring nozzles and ridiculously advanced computer systems for the era in which it was designed—the 1950s. This aircraft, which first flew in 1960, would be refined into the A-6 Intruder, an incredibly heavy hitting and precise nuclear-capable strike aircraft that could haul laughably large bomb loads deep into enemy territory in atrocious weather and at night while flying at very low level. The A-6 entered service in 1963 and went on to fight over in Vietnam for a decade and then on to Libya and Iraq, among other operations, as the decades progressed.   

Out of the intruder, Grumman and the Navy quickly gave birth to the EA-6A, an electronic warfare variant of the two-seat Intruder that was built to jam enemy air defense radars. Just 28 examples of these aircraft were built, with the first flying in 1963. But the concept was a success and, aided by lessons learned the hard way in the dangerous skies of Vietnam, it ushered in the redesigned four-seat EA-6B Intruder. The purpose-built, carrier-capable electronic warfare jet first flew in 1968 and entered service in 1971. 

Over the EA-6B's 48 year career with the Navy and the USMC, it only became more capable and essential. After the retirement of the USAF's EF-111 Raven in 1998, the EA-6B became nearly the sole provider of electronic warfare support for America's air arms, with just the Air Force's small EC-130H Compass Call fleet providing limited overlap in capability.  READ MORE...

With over 13,000 members internationally, the Association of Old Crows is an organization for individuals who have common interests in Electronic Warfare (EW), Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Operations, Cyber Electromagnetic Activities (CEMA), Information Operations (IO), and other information related capabilities. The Association of Old Crows provides a means of connecting members and organizations nationally and internationally across government, defense, industry, and academia to promote the exchange of ideas and information, and provides a platform to recognize advances and contributions in these fields.