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EA-6 Prowler

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EA-6 Prowler
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A U.S. Navy EA-6B Prowler
Description
RoleElectronic attack
CrewFour: pilot and three electronic countermeasures officers
Dimensions
Length59 ft 10 in17.7 m
Wingspan53 ft15.9 m
Height16 ft 8 in4.9 m
Wing area528.9 ft²49.1 m²
Weights
Empty34,000 lb15,450 kg
Loaded
Maximum take-off61,500 lb27,500 kg
Powerplant
Engines2 × Pratt & Whitney J52-P408A turbojets
Thrust10,400 lbf46 kN
Performance
Maximum speed575 mph920 km/h
Combat range
Ferry range2,022 mi (tanks kept)
2,400 mi (tanks dropped)
3,254 km
3,861 km
Service ceiling37,600 ft11,500 m
Rate of climb12,900 ft/min3,932 m/min
Armament
GunsNone
MissilesUp to 4 AGM-88 HARM antiradar missiles

The EA-6 Prowler is the United States Navy's 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.

Contents

Development

The EA-6B Prowler is a twin-engine, mid-wing aircraft manufactured by Northrop Grumman Aerospace Corporation as a modification of the basic A-6 Intruder airframe. 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 faring on the vertical fin house the additional avionics equipment.

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 with a range of 1,840 kilometers. Since EW operations is very demanding, the Prowler is a high-maintenance aircraft and undergoes frequent equipment upgrades more than any other aircraft in the Navy.

Although primarily 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 primary 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 25 May 1968 and entered service with VAQ-132 'Scorpions' in July 1971 and saw combat in Vietnam a few months later.

About 125 Prowlers remain today, divided between 12 Navy, 4 Marine, and 4 joint Navy-Air Force squadrons. When the US Air Force retired the EF-111 Raven, an aircraft similar in mission to the EA-6B, because of budget cuts the Navy agreed to share with it a number of "expeditionary" Prowler squadrons composed of Navy and USAF personnel.

Though it remains in service today, the EA-6B Prowler is slated to be replaced after 2009 by the EA-18G, a new electronic warfare derivative of the F/A-18E Super Hornet.

Units using the EA-6B

USN squadrons

USMC squadrons

Incidents

  • It was an USMC EA-6B Prowler that caused the Cavalese cable-car disaster in 1998, cutting the cables of a ski-lift in Italy and killing 20.
  • In 1981 an EA-6B crashed onto the flight deck of the USS Nimitz and caused a blaze, killing the flight crew and several deck personnel.
  • Despite the fact that to date no Prowler has ever been lost in combat, about forty were already destroyed in various accidents.

External links


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