The Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler is a two-engine, four-seat electronic warfare aircraft whose airframe design was derived from the A-6 Intruder. The Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler is the initial version of the A-6 that was sued by the United States Marine Corp and the United States Navy.
The project for developing more advanced EA-6A was started back in 1966 whose aircrew was consistent of one pilot and three Electronic Countermeasure Officers. Later, only two ECMOs were also enough to perform the task.
The aircraft is also capable of carrying the anti-radiation missiles like the AGM-88 HARM missiles. The Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler is still serving in the United States Armed Force since it started its service back in 1971. The aircraft, over the years has served to perform following mission types.
- Jamming enemy radar system
- Gathering radio intelligence
- Jamming enemy air defense systems
After the retirement of the United States Air Force EF-111 Raven back in 1998, the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler is the only aircraft that is dedicated for the electronic warfare mission led by US Navy, US Marine Corps and the US Air Force.
With the coming of the Navy’s EA-18G Growler in 2009the last deployment of the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler was back in 2014. There was plan to retire the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler from the service back in June of 2015 but the USMC still plans to use this aircraft until 2019.
For our readers today, we have gathered a bunch of amazing facts about the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler which are as follows.
Impeccable Combat Record:-
The combat record of the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler since its first deployment back in 19971 during the Vietnam War and still today through the current War on Terror, the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler’s record is flawlessly impeccable.
Ever since its first deployment, not a single one of these aircraft have been lost.
The Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler has served for the US Military in the following conflicts over the years.
- Operation El Dorado Canyon in Libya
- First Gulf War
Long History of Accidents
Although the combat record of the EA-6B Prowler is flawless, the operational history of this aircraft is riddled with a mix of accidents that have been caused due to various reasons. A total of 170 of these EA-6B Prowlers have been manufactured by the US Military and out of them nearly 50 of them have been lost around the world due to various mishaps.
One of the most notable accidents happened back in 1981 when 1 EA-6B Prowler crashed on the deck of the USS Nimitz. As a result of this crash, nearly 14 crewmembers lost their lives while damaging the surrounding 20 aircraft.
Another notable accident happened back in 1998 when another EA-6B Prowler crashed on the USS Enterprise resulting in the destruction of two other aircraft and death of four people.
Caused an International Incident:-
Military pilots are renowned for being fearless s they handle the high speed aircraft with precision movements but still sometimes, the worst happens.
Back in 1998, 1 EA-6B Prowler was on a training mission in Italy when it flew under a cable car line. The resulting damaged caused the death of 20 civilians. The incident was titled as the “Calvese Cable Car Disaster”. As a result of this accident, the President of the United States issued a formal apology along with launching an investigation into pilot behavior across the whole US Military.
Role in the War of Terror:-
The EA-6B Prowler as an electronic warfare aircraft has the primary mission to jam the enemy radar system and block or intercept any enemy radio communications as well as disrupting the enemy air defense system.
Now during the ‘War on Terror’, the high tech capabilities of the EA-6B Prowler have been very helpful against the low tech enemy systems. The EA-6B Prowler with its jamming system is able to jam cell phone towers and the garage door frequencies that in turn stop the IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) from detonating. This capability for the Prowler has allowed the US force in Iraq and Afghanistan to save countless both Americans and civilians.
Longest lasting Tactical Jet:-
The EA-6B Prowler was introduced back in 1971 during the Vietnam War and since then has served for the US military in nearly every major conflict across the globe. With this fact alone, the EA-6B Prowler is the longest lasting tactical jet in the US military’s history.
Although the primary function of the EA-6B Prowler is to serve as an electronic warfare aircraft, it still lives up to its class of being an attack aircraft. The aircraft comes equipped with anti-radiation missiles like the AGM-88 HARM. These missiles target and destroy the enemy’s radar facilities and aircraft.
Back in the 1990’s EA-6B Prowler underwent major research and upgrading to further improve the aircraft’s capabilities. Three EA-6B Prowlers were spread across the US in disassembled and disrepair states. Technicians of the US Navy gathered these parts and combined them together into one working EA-6B Prowler. The aircraft was named as the FrankenProwler due to its being made from three Prowlers. The FrankenProwler started serving for the army back in 2005 and is still serving the army o this day.
Helped in Osama Bin Laden’s killing:-
Osama Bin Laden, the mastermind behind the September 11 attack in New York and Washington DC; evaded his international capture until 2011.
In 2011, the hideout of Bin Laden was intercepted in Pakistan and an operation to kill the notorious terrorist was carried out under the operation dubbed as “Operation Neptune Star”.
During this raid, a US Navy EA-6B Prowler was used for radar jamming to allow the helicopter access in the compound of the hideout.
The EA-6B Prowler was scheduled for retirement back in 2015. However the Navy plans to still use this aircraft until the end of 2019.
The EA-6B Prowler is an electronic warfare aircraft that has served for the US Navy, US Marine Corps, and the US Air Force in all the major conflicts since its first deployment back in 1971 during the Vietnam War. The aircraft has also been a great help for the US in its war on terror and is still going to serve its electronic warfare missions until 2019 ends.