Arutz Sheva meets US Electronic Warfare Aircraft - the Prowler

The 'Prowler' can protect other aircraft from enemy missiles such as Syrian rocket which shot down Israeli F-16.

Yissachar Ruas ,

The Prowler
The Prowler
Yissachar Ruas

Recently a very advanced Israeli F-16 was shot down during a mission against Iranian forces stationed in Syria. The threat of ground based surface to air missiles reared its ugly head again and drove the subject to the top of news cycle.

While Israel is extremely secretive in the capabilities it possesses to handle this type of threat, when the US Military is faced with the same issue, the solution to this problem is a pretty straightforward one – it’s called the “Prowler”.

The Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler is an ungainly aircraft, as opposed to most current day fighter jets it is not supersonic, It is an old airframe based on the iconic A-6 “Intruder”, as airframe technology goes the Prowler is 1950’s circa technology, real vintage. Yet despite all of that it is not only a key component in the US Military’s inventory – it is an extremely relevant one that is much in need in recent years around the World.

As opposed to most conventional jet fighters that feature usually no more than 2 aircrew, the Prowler is a 4 seat aircraft with room for not only a Pilot and as opposed to many strike aircraft which carry a Weapons Officer instead the Prowler seats 3 Electronic Warfare Officers affectionately known as “ECMO”s (Electronic Counter Measure Officer)

We took a day to visit, fly with and interview the special people that operate these unique aircraft and get their take on what its like to fly in one.

We met Maj. Dana Darnell an Electronic Warfare Officer belonging to the Prowler Squadron known as the VMAQ-3 “Moondogs”, Maj. Darnell explained – “Whenever US aircraft are deployed to an area with the potential threat of enemy radar being able to track them, an Electronic Warfare platform such as the Prowler is deployed to provide protection. If there is an integrated air defence system in the vicinity the Prowler will be used to jam it and protect our aircraft.”

We also caught up with Major Benjamin Friederick who pilots the aircraft, he joined the Marine Corps. Aviation despite being part of a long time Navy family, his feeling was that no matter what path The Marines would designate for him in aviation, all the options were extremely interesting. He added “Its amazing to see how despite all these years going by the Prowler is just as relevant know as its ever been” He enjoys flying the aircraft since its an “old school” aircraft with a stick and rudder as opposed to most aircraft today that have “fly by wire”.

His feeling is that there is nothing like serving in Marines, “serving especially with Marines on the ground is very special, they are extremely dedicated and would go to the ultimate length and sacrifice for you”

Most of the tactics and systems the Prowler incorporates are highly classified, but some of its capabilities can be talked about – the main one – protecting friendly aircraft from the threat of Surface to Air Missiles aka “SAMs”. The method by which the Prowler does that is by using its special sensors and pods it locks on to the radiation the SAM radar produces when tracking aircraft and by using an “anti radiation” missile known as the “HARM” it effectively creates a zero sum game vs any ground threat directed at it or any aircraft within its strike group.

Additionally, the Prowler’s ability to selectively jam frequencies makes it a useful tool when US troops are in a threat laden environment which requires all eyes and ears to be focused on potential enemy activity.

The Prowler, although assigned to the Marines, really belongs directly to the US Department of Defense. This means that as opposed to the “regular” Marines who usually operate as an organic force equipped from the level of rifleman all the way to fighter jet can fall under one Marine command, the Prowler runs its own unique missions that mostly involve National Security and receive their tasking from the Pentagon.

The Prowler Squadrons have been on constant deployment in recent years, their unique capabilities which are second to none have been in high demand in any area where SAMs may pose a threat as well as areas which may have the need for their Jamming capabilities.

Despite its advanced age its relevance on the battlefield is just as relevant today as the day it rolled off the production line in the 1970’s. With more advanced platforms such as the F-35 taking over Marine Aviation, the Prowler will cease to fly in the skies over North Carolina and around the World, but until then, it will be at the forefront of any engagement US forces may have ready to provide its unique capabilities second to none.

The Prowler
Yissachar Ruas
The Prowler
Yissachar Ruas

The Prowler
Yissachar Ruas



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