EA-6B Prowler

EA-6B Prowler

infobox Aircraft
name = EA-6B Prowler
type = Electronic attack
manufacturer = Grumman

caption = A U.S. Navy EA-6B Prowler
designer =
first flight = 25 May 1968Naval Air Systems Command. Warfighters Encyclopedia. [https://wrc.navair-rdte.navy.mil/warfighter_enc/aircraft/Fixwing/prowler.htm EA-6B Prowler] .]
introduced = July 1971
retired =
number built = 170
status = Active
primary user = United States Navy
more users = United States Marine Corps
unit cost = US$52 million
developed from = A-6 Intruder
variants with their own articles =

The EA-6B Prowler is a twin-engine, mid-wing electronic warfare aircraft manufactured by Grumman (now Northrop Grumman Aerospace) as a modification of the basic A-6 Intruder airframe.


The Prowler has a crew of four, a pilot and three Electronic Counter-measures Officers (known as ECMOs). Powered by two non-afterburning Pratt & Whitney J52-P408 turbojet engines, it is capable of speeds of up to 950 km/h (590 miles per hour) with a range of 1,840 kilometers (1,140 miles). Since EW operations are very demanding, the Prowler is a high-maintenance aircraft and also undergoes more frequent equipment upgrades than any other aircraft in the Navy.

Design particulars include the refueling probe being asymmetrical, appearing bent to the right; it contains an antenna near its root. The canopy has a shading of gold not for sunlight but to protect the crew against the radio emissions that the electronic warfare equipment produces.

Although designed as an electronic escort and command and control platform for strike missions, the EA-6B is also capable of attacking surface targets on its own, especially radars, SAM launchers, and other enemy defenses. The AGM-88 HARM (High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile) is the main offensive strike weapon of the Prowler. In addition, the aircraft is highly capable of conducting electronic intelligence (ELINT) collection.

An earlier EA-6A "Electric Intruder" was developed during the Vietnam War. Basically a straightforward conversion of the standard two-seat A-6 airframe fitted with EW equipment, it was essentially an interim aircraft used only by a few USMC squadrons.

The much more advanced and substantially redesigned EA-6B first flew on May 25, 1968 and entered service in July 1971."The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft" Editors: Paul Eden & Soph Moeng, (Amber Books Ltd. Bradley's Close, 74-77 White Lion Street, London, NI 9PF, 2002, ISBN 0-7607-3432-1), 1152 pp.]

Advanced Capability EA-6B (ADVCAP)

The Advanced Capability EA-6B Prowler (ADVCAP) was a development program initiated to improve the flying qualities of the EA-6B and to upgrade the avionics and electronic warfare systems. The intention was to modify all EA-6B's into the ADVCAP configuration, however the program was removed from the Fiscal Year 1995 budget due to financial pressure from competing Department of Defense acquisition programs.

The ADVCAP development program was initiated in the late 1980s and was broken into three distinct phases: Full-Scale Development (FSD), Vehicle Enhancement Program (VEP) and the Avionics Improvement Program (AIP).

FSD served primarily to evaluate the new AN/ALQ-149 Electronic Warfare System. The program utilized a slightly modified EA-6B to house the new system.

The VEP added numerous changes to the aircraft to address deficiencies with the original EA-6B flying qualities, particularly lateral-directional problems that exacerbated recovery from out-of-control flight. Bureau Number 158542 was used. Changes included:

* Leading edge strakes (to improve directional stability)
* Fin pod extension (to improve directional stability)
* Ailerons (to improve slow speed lateral control)
* Recontoured leading edge slats and trailing edge flaps (to compensate for an increase in gross weight)
* Two additional wing stations on the outer wing panel (for jamming pods only)
* New J52-P-409 engines (increased thrust by 2000 lbf (8.9 kN) per engine)
* New digital Standard Automatic Flight Control System (SAFCS)

The added modifications increased the aircraft gross weight approximately 2,000 pound (900 kg) and shifted the center of gravity 3% MAC aft of the baseline EA-6B. When operating at sustained high angles-of-attack, fuel migration would cause additional shifts in CG with the result that the aircraft had slightly negative longitudinal static stability. Results of flight tests of the new configuration showed greatly improved flying qualities and the rearward shift of the CG had minimal impact.

The AIP prototype (bureau number 158547) represented the final ADVCAP configuration, incorporating all of the FSD and VEP modifications plus a completely new avionics suite which added multi-function displays to all crew positions, a head-up display for the pilot, and dual Global Positioning System/INS navigation systems. The initial joint test phase between the contractor and the US Navy test pilots completed successfully with few deficiencies.

After the program was canceled, the three experimental Prowlers, BuNo 156482, 158542 and 158547, were mothballed until 1999. During the next several years, the three aircraft were dismantled and reassembled creating a single aircraft, b/n 158542, which the Navy dubbed "FrankenProwler". It was returned to active service March 23, 2005. [Northwest Navigator. [http://www.northwestnavigator.com/index.php/navigator/whidbey/vaq_141_frankenprowler_rejoins_the_fleet/ VAQ-141 ‘FrankenProwler’ rejoins the fleet] . April 29, 2005.]

Improved Capability (ICAP)

Northrop Grumman received contracts from the US Navy to deliver new electronic countermeasures gear to Prowler squadrons; the heart of each ICAP III set consists of the ALQ-218 receiver and new software that provides more precise selective-reactive radar jamming and threat location. The ICAP III sets also are equipped with the Multifunction Information Distribution System (MIDS), which includes the Link 16 data link system. Northrop has delivered two lots and will be delivering two more beginning in 2010. [ [http://www.irconnect.com/noc/press/pages/news_releases.html?d=151114 Northrop Grumman Press Release, September 29, 2008] ]


Designed for carrier and advanced base operations, the Prowler is a fully integrated electronic warfare system combining long-range, all-weather capabilities with advanced electronic countermeasures. A forward equipment bay and pod-shaped fairing on the vertical fin house the additional avionics equipment. It is the United States Navy's (USN) and the United States Marine Corps's primary electronic warfare aircraft. The primary mission of the aircraft is to support strike aircraft and ground troops by interrupting enemy electronic activity and obtaining tactical electronic intelligence within a combat area.

Operational history

Since the retirement of the EF-111 Raven in 1995, the EA-6B is one of the primary aerial radar jammers in the Department of Defense (DoD) arsenal. It has been utilized in practically every US combat operation and is frequently flown in support of the United States Air Force.

About 125 Prowlers remain today, divided between 12 Navy, 4 Marine, and 4 joint Navy-Air Force "Expeditionary" squadrons. A JCS staff study recommended that the EF-111 Raven be retired to reduce Type/Model/Series aircraft dedicated to the same mission, which led to an OSD Program Decision Memorandum (PDM) to establish 4 "expeditionary" Prowler squadrons composed of Navy and USAF personnel to meet the needs of the Air Force.Fact|date=September 2007

Though once considered being replaced by Common Support Aircraft, the original plan failed to materialize. Although EA-6B remains in service today, the Navy EA-6B Prowler community is slated to be begin transitioning in 2009 to the EA-18G Growler, a new electronic warfare derivative of the F/A-18F Super Hornet. All but one active duty Navy EA-6B squadrons are based at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island, located in the northwest corner of the state of Washington. VAQ-136 is stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan, as part of Carrier Air Wing 5, the forward deployed air wing that deploys aboard USS "George Washington" and VAQ-209, a Navy Reserve squadron, is stationed at NAF Washington, DC. Marine EA-6B squadrons are located at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.

Operations in Afghanistan & Iraq

According to news reports, the Prowler has been used in anti-IED operations in the current conflict in Afghanistan for several years by jamming remote detonation devices such as garage door openers or cellular telephones. [Associated Press. [http://www.military.com/NewsContent/0,13319,138857,00.html Navy Takes Aim at Roadside Bombs] . June 12, 2007.] Two Prowler squadrons are also based in Iraq, working with the same mission. [CNN. [http://www.cnn.com/2007/WORLD/meast/06/12/prowler.ap/index.html Planes on the prowl for roadside bombs] . June 13. 2007.]


The EA-6B Prowler is operated by the United States, and has squadrons in both its Marine Corps and Navy.

USMC squadrons

VMAQ squadrons operate the EA-6B Prowler. [cite web | title = E/A-6B Prowler | publisher = Northrop Grumman | url = http://www.is.northropgrumman.com/products/navy_products/ea6b/ea6b.html | accessdate = 2007-03-26] Each of the four squadrons operates five aircraft and are land-based (although they are capable of landing on board U.S. Navy aircraft carriers). [cite web | title = EA-6B Prowler | work = Department of the Navy -- Naval Historical Center | publisher = US Navy | url = http://www.history.navy.mil/planes/ea6.htm | accessdate = 2007-03-26] [cite web | title =EA-6B Prowler | publisher = www.fas.org | url = http://www.fas.org/irp/program/collect/ea-6b_prowler.htm | accessdate = 2007-03-26]

USN squadrons

A typical Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron consists of 4 EA-6B Prowlers. Navy Electronic Attack squadrons carry the letters VAQ (V-fixed wing, A-attack, Q-electronic). Most VAQ squadrons are carrier based, however a number are "expeditionary", deploying to overseas land bases. [ The EA-6B will be replaced by the EA-18G.cite web | title = EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft | work = USN Fact File | publisher = U.S. Navy| date = | url = http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=1100&tid=900&ct=1 | accessdate = ]

Notable incidents

While no Prowler has ever been lost in combat, over forty were destroyed in various accidents as of 2007.

* On May 26, 1981, an EA-6B crashed onto the flight deck of the USS "Nimitz" and caused a blaze, killing 14 crew men and injuring 45 others. [United States Navy. [http://www.navy.mil/search/display.asp?story_id=7637 Nimitz Remembers Lives Lost During 1981 Flight Deck Crash] . May 29, 2003]
*A USMC EA-6B Prowler, BuNo 163045, from VMAQ-2 caused the Cavalese cable-car disaster on February 3, 1998, cutting the cables of a ski-lift in Italy and killing 20.
* In 1998, a memorial at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island was dedicated to 44 crew members lost in EA-6B aircraft accidents. [Seattle Post-Intelligencer. [http://www.highbeam.com/doc/1G1-64598602.html Memorial honors 44 EA-6B Prowler crewmen] . August 28, 1998.] Later that year on November 10, 1998, that total increased to 48 when four crew members were killed when an EA-6B collided with an S-3 Viking during night landing practice on USS "Enterprise". [The New York Times. [http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9C01EFDD1E3EF933A25752C1A96E958260 National News Briefs; Navy Flying Accident Leaves at Least 1 Dead] . November 10, 1998.] Five more aircraft have been lost since 1998, but none resulted in fatalities.

pecifications (EA-6B)

aircraft specifications
plane or copter?=plane
jet or prop?=jet

ref=US Navy Fact File, [cite web|url=http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=1100&tid=900&ct=1 |title=EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft fact file |date=August 5, 2003 |accessdate= |publisher=US Navy] UA Navy history page [ [http://www.history.navy.mil/planes/ea6.htm EA-6B Prowler US Navy history page] ]
crew= four (one pilot, three electronic countermeasures officers)
length main= 59 ft 10 in
length alt= 17.7 m
span main= 53 ft
span alt= 15.9 m
height main= 16 ft 8 in
height alt= 4.9 m
area main= 528.9 ft²
area alt= 49.1 m²
empty weight main= 31,160 lb
empty weight alt= 15,130 kg
loaded weight main=
loaded weight alt=
useful load main=
useful load alt=
max takeoff weight main= 61,500 lb
max takeoff weight alt= 27,900 kg
more general=
engine (jet)= Pratt & Whitney J52-P408A
type of jet= turbojet
number of jets= 2
thrust main= 10,400 lbf
thrust alt= 46 kN
thrust original=
afterburning thrust main=
afterburning thrust alt=
max speed main= 566 knots
max speed alt= 651 mph, 1,050 km/h
cruise speed main= 418 kt
cruise speed alt= 481 mph, 774 km/h
never exceed speed main=
never exceed speed alt=
stall speed main=
stall speed alt=
range main= 2,022 mi (tanks kept) / 2,400 mi (tanks dropped)Fact|date=October 2007
range alt= 3,254 km / 3,861 km
range more=
ceiling main= 37,600 ft
ceiling alt= 11,500 m
climb rate main= 12,900 ft/min
climb rate alt= 65 m/s
loading main= 116 lb/ft²
loading alt= 560 kg/m²
more performance=
*Up to 4 AGM-88 HARM antiradar missiles
*Up to 5 ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System (TJS) external pods
*Up to 5 300 gallon external drop tanks
*ALQ-99 on board receiver (OBS), ALQ-99 pod mounted jamming system (TJS)
*USQ-113 communications jamming system

ee also

*A-6 Intruder
similar aircraft=
*EF-111 Raven
*EA-18 Growler
*List of active military aircraft of the United States




* Miska, Kurt H. "Grumman A-6A/E Intruder; EA-6A; EA6B Prowler (Aircraft in Profile number 252)". "Aircraft in Profile, Volume 14". Windsor, Berkshire, UK: Profile Publications Ltd., 1974, p. 137-160. ISBN 0-85383-023-1.

External links

* [http://www.navy.mil/navydata/fact_display.asp?cid=1100&tid=900&ct=1 EA-6B Prowler Fact File] and [http://www.history.navy.mil/planes/ea6.htm EA-6B history on Navy.mil]
* [http://oea.larc.nasa.gov/PAIS/Partners/EA_6B.html Grumman EA-6B Prowler on NASA Langley site] , discussion of ADCAP VEP and cooling modifications.
* [http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/ea-6.htm EA-6B Prowler on GlobalSecurity.org]
* [http://www.avsafe.com/ASCUR.HTM EA-6B Gondola Mishap, Cavalese, Italy, February 3, 1998] , Aviation Safety Consulting Services,
* [http://www.eastoregonian.info/main.asp?SectionID=13&SubSectionID=48&ArticleID=50961&TM=47115.91 "Navy pilots honor philanthropic locals"] , East Oregonian News, April 29, 2006.
* [http://www.defensedaily.com/VIP/common/pub/dd/dd10160707.html "Navy Making Significant Investment To Keep Prowlers Flying"] , Defense Daily, October 16, 2007.

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