By Dario Leone
Feb 24 2017
Share this article

The EA-6B Prowler has supported U.S. Marine Corps and coalition forces worldwide since 1977

As remembered by Cpl. Jason Jimenez, Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, in his article MAG-14 Prowlers fly toward sundown, legacy intact through 40th anniversary, a 1977 newspaper headline read “‘Can do easy’ Marines get their first EA-6B”— highlighting Marine Electronic Warfare Squadron (VMAQ) 2 as the first VMAQ in Marine Aircraft Group 14’s history to have received an EA-6B Prowler.

The Prowler’s 40th anniversary of active use in MAG-14, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, can only be summed-up in a bitter-sweet acknowledgement and look back on its impact on U.S. Marine Corps (USMC) aviation, Feb. 23, 2017.

The Marine Corps’ bond with the Prowler began when it touched down on Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Cherry Point, N.C., as a replacement for the EA-6A Electric Intruder— the former premiere electronic warfare aircraft during the Vietnam War. Since then, the Prowler has participated in every named American conflict.

“[As] one of the last naval flight officers assigned to VMAQ-2 to fly the EA-6A Electric Intruder before the Prowler transition, I had the opportunity to fly and operate the manually controlled EW and [electronic attack] systems that earned the [electronic and photographic] community their stellar EW reputation over the skies of North Vietnam,” said Lt. Col. (Ret.) Rick Johnson, former Prowler pilot with VMAQ-2.

The primary mission of the EA-6B Prowler is suppression of enemy air defenses in support of strike aircraft and ground troops by interrupting enemy electronic activity and obtaining tactical electronic intelligence within the combat area.

“Those EW systems by today’s standards would be considered antiquated and obsolete, but during the Vietnam conflict they were “state of the art,” said Johnson.

Marine Prowlers are equipped with five tactical jamming pods, electronic surveillance systems, radar-seeking High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missiles, non-kinetic fire systems that leave electronic equipment disabled but intact, and countermeasures that mask the approach of nearby ground-attack aircraft.

“Being a pilot and flying in a legacy aircraft is a testament to the ability of the aircraft,” said Maj. Nathan Baker, the operations officer with MAG-14. “You’re still flying the same aircraft that was flown 40 years ago. No other tactical jet aircraft in the Marine Corps has ever lasted that long.”

A total of 12 Marine Corps Prowlers flew 516 flight hours in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 without sustaining any losses. Fast forward to 2007, the Prowler took part in anti-improvised explosive device operations in Afghanistan by jamming remote detonation devices— saving countless lives. In 2013, VMAQ-1 transitioned to a training squadron to support future Prowler operations such as VMAQ-3 and VMAQ-4’s missions over Iraq in 2014.

“The aircraft being almost 50 years old in terms of design does make it a little more difficult to fly versus some of our newer aircraft such as the [F-35 lighting II],” said Baker.

One VMAQ squadron a year will deactivate until the completion of the Prowler sundown in 2019.

“I’m excited for the transition and for the aircraft to continue its service until its sundown,” said Baker.

The electronic warfare community will be saying goodbye to a legacy aircraft in 2019 when Prowler touches down for the last time.

The twin-engine, mid-wing configured, long-range, all-weather aircraft has supported U.S. Marine Corps and coalition forces worldwide since 1977.

Photo credit: Cpl. Jodson B. Graves / U.S. Marine Corps

Artwork courtesy of

Share this article

Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

Leave a comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Share this article

Share this article
Share this article

Always up to date! News and offers delivered directly to you!

Get the best aviation news, stories and features from The Aviation Geek Club in our newsletter, delivered straight to your inbox.

Error: Contact form not found.

Share this article
Back to top
My Agile Privacy
This website uses technical and profiling cookies. Clicking on "Accept" authorises all profiling cookies. Clicking on "Refuse" or the X will refuse all profiling cookies. By clicking on "Customise" you can select which profiling cookies to activate. In addition, this site installs Google Analytics in version 4 (GA4) with anonymous data transmission via proxy. By giving your consent, the data will be sent anonymously, thus protecting your privacy. We and our selected ad partners can store and/or access information on your device, such as cookies, unique identifiers, browsing data. You can always choose the specific purposes related to profiling by accessing the advertising preferences panel, and you can always withdraw your consent at any time by clicking on "Manage consent" at the bottom of the page.

List of some possible advertising permissions:

You can consult: our list of advertising partners, the Cookie Policy and the Privacy Policy.
Warning: some page functionalities could not work due to your privacy choices