The EA-6B Prowler has officially been retired from service by the Marine Corps, the last operator of the type. The end of the Prowler also marks the end of an incredibly successful legacy for Grumman’s A-6 Intruder family of aircraft that reaches back six decades.
Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 (VMAQ-2) was the last to fly the Prowler in combat, supporting troops who were taking on Islamic State group terrorists in the Middle East late last year.
The EA-6B was born out of military requirements during the Vietnam War.
It entered service in 1971 and 170 aircraft were built before the production was terminated in 1991.
For more than four decades, the Prowler has been “at the forefront of military electronic warfare allowing high-profile air combat missions.”
The squadron completed its last deployment in support of Operation Resolute Support and Freedom’s Sentinel in Afghanistan as well as Operation Inherent Resolve in Iraq and Syria in October 2018.
During the last deployment the aircraft have supported ground-attack strikes by disrupting enemy electromagnetic activity and, as a secondary mission, they have flown to collect tactical electronic intelligence within a combat zone. Despite their age, the EA-6Bs have been among the most important assets in the air war against Daesh: they eavesdropped “enemy” radio signals and jammed those frequencies in order to prevent terrorists from talking one another on the radio or cell phone or use portable transmitters to trigger IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices).
EA-6B deployed more than 70 times to support every major combat operation, including those in Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and Serbia.
Impressive facts about the EA-6B Prowler
- It fought everyone from Ho Chi Minh to ISIS: First introduced to Southeast Asia in 1972, the Prowler has been there with the Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps through thick and thin, deploying more than 70 times and flying more than 260,000 hours.
- Its victories were flawless: Not one Prowler has ever been lost to enemy action. Many have tried; North Vietnam, Libya, Iraq (a few times!), Iran, the Taliban, Panama, no one has been able to take down any of the 170 Prowlers built to defend America. Unfortunately, 50 of those were lost due to accidents and mishaps.
- Its job was to jam enemy radar: But what to do when there’s no enemy radar to jam? It still blocks radio signals and weapon targeting systems. The Prowler was a perfect addition to the Global War on Terror, as it also could block cell signals and garage door openers, keeping troops on the ground safe from many remotely-triggered improvised explosive devices.
- It’s the longest serving tactical jet: The service life of the Prowler beats that of even the F-16, making it the longest-serving tactical fighter jet in the history of the US military. For now.