Last deep maintenance for EA-6B as drawdown continues
The US Navy’s Fleet Readiness Center Southeast (FRCSE) at Jacksonville, FL, held a ceremony on December 17 to honor the workers of the EA-6B line as the last Prowler nears completion. The ceremony, marking the end of more than 20 years of Prowler work, signified the end of an era.
The first EA-6B came to FRCSE in October 1994. The last aircraft to undergo deep maintenance will rejoin the Marine Corps’ Prowler fleet at MCAS Cherry Point. The US Navy may have bid farewell to the EA-6B Prowler, but the US Marine Corps is set to fly on with this charismatic electronic warfare aircraft until 2019.
Having bowed out of US Navy service, these rugged, combat-proven, 1960s-era products of the Grumman ‘Ironworks’ will continue to dominate the electronic warfare spectrum until 2019, despite calls from some Marine Corps observers to keep them in service longer pending the establishment of a true replacement.
The four Prowler squadrons at Cherry Point consist of the training unit VMAQT-1 ‘Banshees’ and three operational squadrons: Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 (VMAQ-2) ‘Death Jesters’, VMAQ-3 ‘Moon Dogs’ and VMAQ-4 ‘Seahawks’. These are all part of Marine Air Group (MAG) 14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing (MAW). The recent Marine Corps Aviation plan 2015 states that they all now operate the latest standard of EA-6B — the Improved Capabilities (ICAP) III.
With the US Navy having now retired the EA-6B, the Marine Corps has settled on a fleet of around 22 ICAP III standard aircraft. Prowlers have been upgraded under a number of programs since they entered serv-ice, with ICAP III representing the ultimate standard for the type.
The full version of this feature appeared in the February 2015 edition of Combat Aircraft.