Aviation Photojournal May - June 2016 - Page 17

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THE END OF AN ERA is quickly approaching. The distinctive EA-6B Prowler, Grumman's venerable electronic warfare platform, is nearing the end of its operational life. While the US Navy already retired its Prowlers in May 2015, the US Marines are planning on using theirs through 2021. The decommissioning of VMAQT-1 is one of the first moves in the process of removing the Prowlers from the US military inventory.

The EA-6B first flew on May 25, 1968, almost 50 (fifty!) years ago this month. The Prowler was developed from the formidable A-6 Intruder bomber to fulfill the Navy's need for an electronic warfare platform. The EA-6A (2-seater) was followed by 170 EA-6Bs that rolled off the Grumman assembly lines and served with distinction throughout their career. The Prowlers first combat deployment was to Vietnam aboard USS America. The jets went on to see service over many combat zones including Libya, Desert Storm and in support of the War on Terror in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. With the retirement of the EF-111 Raven in 1998, the Prowler was the only dedicated ECM platform in the US inventory until the EF-18G Growler entered service in 2009.

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