At the end of June, the US Navy's EA-6B Prowler tactical jamming aircraft completed its final flight from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island as part of a sunset celebration commemorating the retirement of the aircraft. The aircraft, which was in service for 45 years, was retired last week with a three day commemoration at Whidbey Island where it took its final flight.
Over 1,000 people attended the farewell ceremony which featured retired Captain Fred Wilmot, a former Prowler test pilot who delivered the first of the aircraft to Whidbey Island in January 1971. He was also a passenger on the last Prowler to fly at Whidbey Island. Wilmot made a statement at the ceremony: "The fact that the Prowler stuck around for 45 years is testimony to how well it was designed and built and the thousands of men and women who have maintained and operated it.” However, this event does not mark the end of the Prowler's service with the US force, as the US Marine Corps is planning to keep the aircraft flying from Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina through 2019.
The new aircraft that will be utilized by the Navy is the EA-18G Growler, and a lot of people are looking forward to this new aircraft. "We've sunset our last Navy Prowler with VAQ 134, so the entire community will now be transitioned to the EA-18G Growler,” said CVWP commander captain Darryl Walker. "It's really spectacular to see the community grow into the fantastic airplane, the EA-18G Growler."
The Prowler, built by Northrop Grumman and based on the A-6 Intruder aircraft, was the Navy’s and Marine Corps’ primary electronic warfare aircraft, performing electronic surveillance and jamming enemy radar and communications. It was a long range, all-weather electronic attack aircraft that is capable of detecting, identifying, and disrupting enemy air defense radar system and related communications systems in support of airstrikes. The Prowler's successor, the Growler aircraft, is a derivative of the two-seat F/A-18 Hornet and is used to conduct electronic attack (EA) and suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD).
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