by Shawn Levy
This photo is that of a EA-6B Prowler, a Marine Corps aircraft, belonging to VMAQ-2. The EA-6B Prowler provides Airborne Command and Control (C2W) support to Fleet Marine Forces to include electronic attack (EA), tactical electronic support (ES), electronic protection (EP) and high speed anti-radiation missile (HARM) for SEAD – Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses. It is also used by the Navy in the same role, but for protection of the carrier battle group.
The Prowler can fly in advance of a strike package by other aircraft, and has a fighter escort for protection. It carries no missiles or guns capable of engaging other enemy aircraft. It can carry the HARM missile to take out surface to air missile radars, but that job is usually relegated to F/A-18 Hornets, which are capable of defending themselves in hostile airspace.
It has a crew of four, pilot, navigator and two electronic counter-measure officers in the rear seats. The EA-6B is the younger cousin to the A-6 Intruder, which is no longer in the Navy and Marine Corps inventory.
The pods on the wing with the small propeller are the ALQ-99 electronic jamming pods. The propeller drives a generator in the pod. It can carry as many as five pods depending on the mission requirements. They are a multi-phase jamming pod, each capable of working several frequency bands.
In the photo, this EA-6B carried three SAM site radar kill marks of the nose from Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Photo by Shawn Levy