The Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler is a twin-engine, four-seat, mid-wing, electronic warfare plane that was used by the US Marine Corps and the US Navy.
No other aircraft design can match its prowess when it comes to electronic warfare. It also accommodates a trio of electronic countermeasures officers.
Initially, the Air Force and the Navy relied on electronic warfare variants of the Douglas A3D/A-3 Skywarrior which were utilized for stand-off jammers, often offshore, in support of strikes.
However, the US required an enhanced electronic warfare plane to accompany a strike force to the target and back. Thus, the EA-6B Prowler was created and was the first US military plane specifically designed for this purpose.
The EA-6B Prowler was a highly formidable warfare plane that played a key role in protecting the US Navy strike aircraft, as well as surface ships from electronic threats.
Thus, Grumman engineers decided to modify their own A-6 Intruder to develop the Prowler, designed to be better than the reliable A-6 that was used during the Vietnam War. It featured a top speed of 566 miles per hour, and a service ceiling of 37,600 feet, a wingspan of 53 feet, length of 59 feet, 10 inches.
For its exterior, it had a distinctive black and white camouflage pattern on its exterior and its wings were high-mounted, swept-back variety, folded up for easier storage in aircraft carriers.
It’s also equipped with two Pratt & Whitney J52-P408A turbojet engines with a maximum thrust of 9,300 pounds each. It can also carry external fuel tanks extending its range. The result was an aircraft with comparable speed despite its considerable weight.
An ECMO is responsible for operating and maintaining the electronic warfare systems on an aircraft, including communications and radar jamming. They work with the pilot to ensure the mission’s success by denying or degrading the ability of the enemy to detect or communicate with their forces.
The Prowler had a wide variety of resources to jam and confuse enemy radar systems, electronic data links, and communications.
The EA-6B Prowler became a powerful asset to the US Navy. This highly versatile plane also proved to be indispensable throughout the Vietnam War, backing ground and air operations.
Its main mission is to jam the communications and radar of the enemy, giving the US air force an essential edge. Its success paved the way for more advanced electronic warfare capabilities in future conflicts. The US Air Force even adapted it into the EF-111A Raven.
After the Vietnam War, the plane remained crucial to the military operations of the US. It saw action in places such as Grenada, Libya, and Bosnia throughout the 1980s and 1990s.
In the 2000s, it provided key electronic warfare support and coalition forces time and time again during the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. In Afghanistan, it supported Operation Enduring Freedom, while in Iraq, it played a key role in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Despite its continued evolution, the Prowler’s retirement was inevitable. The US Navy retired its last Prowler in 2015, followed by the US Marine Corps in 2019.