The USMC deactivated VMAQ-2 “Death Jesters,” the service final electronic attack squadron in a ceremony on Mar. 8, 2019 at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, N.C. sending its EA-6B Prowler jet into retirement.
The U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) deactivated Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 2 (VMAQ-2) “Death Jesters,” the service final electronic attack squadron in a ceremony on Mar. 8, 2019 at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station, N.C. sending its trusty but aging EA-6B Prowler jet into retirement.
As we have reported VMAQ-2 had logged the Prowler’s final combat missions last year when it deployed its six jets to Qatar and supported military operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. The squadron flew its final flights on Feb. 28.
For more than four decades the EA-6B has been the U.S. Navy and USMC long-range, all-weather aircraft with advanced electronic countermeasures capability. Manufactured by the Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation, the Prowler is a twin-engine, mid-wing configured aircraft that has a side by-side cockpit arrangement. The EA-6B war fighting systems includes the ALQ-99 on board receiver, the ALQ-99 pod mounted jamming system, the USQ-113 communications jamming system and the HARM missile.
“That sustained tempo for close to half a century has led to not only the highest utilization rate of any Marine Prowler squadron but the highest utilization rate for any type/model/series aircraft in the Marine Corps,” service officials said in announcing VMAQ-2’s decommissioning.
Despite the end of the Prowlers’ era, the need for electronic-warfare capabilities on the battlefield isn’t going away. Throughout the aircraft’s sundown process, the Marine Corps has been building up a suite of new electronic-warfare capabilities across the Marine air-ground task force (MAGTF).
The EA-6B’s electronic warfare mission in fact falls to the Marine Corps’ growing inventory of unmanned aircraft and ground systems, new fleet of F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter jets and EW sensors such as the Intrepid Tiger II jamming pod.
The twin-engine Prowler was the electronic attack version of the A-6 Intruder. It became operational in 1971. “We’ve managed to hang on for a long time because they keep finding a use for us. And even up until the end we have one of the highest operational tempos of any other community in Marine aviation,” Lt. Col. Andrew A. Rundle, VMAQ-2’s commanding officer, said in an Air Force news article in September.
The Marine Corps, which had three operational, six-jet squadrons, deactivated its Prowler training squadron, VMAQT-1, in fiscal 2016. The “Seahawks” of VMAQ-4 deactivated on June 2, 2017, and the “Moondogs” of VMAQ-3 deactivated on May 11, 2018.
Photo credit: Lance Cpl. Liam D. Higgins / U.S. Marine Corps
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com