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EA-6B Prowler Grumman
EA-6B Prowler
Electronic Countermeasures

The original EA-6A Intruder was developed from the A-6A attack plane to meet a US Marine Corps requirement to replace the EF-10B Skyknight. A total of 27 were built or converted from other airframes and formed into three squadrons to perform electronic warfare (EW) and gather electronic intelligence. These aircraft were quickly employed in Vietnam to support strike aircraft and collect reconnaissance on North Vietnamese electronic systems. In comparison with the basic A-6A, the EA-6A was equipped with signals surveillance and recording systems, noise jammers, and a bulbous fairing atop the vertical tail housing EW antennas. The EA-6A also retained a limited attack capability that was rarely used. However, the aircraft was primarily an interim type withdrawn from service in the late 1970s when the Marines received the newer EA-6B. A few remained in use with the US Navy into the early 1990s as electronic agressor training aircraft.

A significant improvement in EW capabilities came with the development of the EA-6B, named the Prowler in 1972. While the earlier EA-6A had retained the same airframe as the A-6, the EA-6B is a fundamentally new design mating the original A-6 wing to a lengthened fuselage. This fuselage extension provides room for two additional crew members who sit in a second cockpit and operate the advanced AN/ALQ-99 TJS (Tactical Jamming System). Located in the forward cockpit are the pilot and an additional ECM officer who is responsible for navigation, communications, and defensive electronic countermeasures.

The primary capabilities of the EA-6B are provided by the TJS. This system is capable of detecting, sorting, classifying, and dealing with a broad spectrum of frequency bands. The TJS can be operated in automatic, semi-automatic, or manual modes using numerous antennas around the plane to detect electronic emissions. Up to five external pods carried under the wing and fuselage also generate jamming signals to degrade enemy radar. Though the first production aircraft were limited to four frequency bands, constant upgrades have followed and steadily improved the capabilities of the TJS. The principal EA-6B upgrades are EXCAP (Expanded Capability), ICAP (Improved Capability), ICAP-2, and ADVCAP (Advanced Capability).

Production of the EA-6B ceased in 1991 after the completion of some 170 aircraft. However, the extensive use of these planes over the former Yugoslavia, the Persian Gulf, and Afghanistan has taken a heavy toll. A series of structural and supportability upgrades are planned to keep the remaining EA-6B fleet in service through at least 2010. Older models are also being upgraded to the latest standards through a conversion in lieu of procurement policy institutued by the Navy. These upgrades will continue through 2010 when the new EA-18G is due to enter service with the Navy. The EA-18G is an EW platform derived from the two-seat F-18F Super Hornet.

The US Air Force has also made extensive use of the EA-6B following the retirement of its EF-111 Raven fleet in 1996. Currently, Air Force crews are trained to operate a Navy EA-6B squadron and provide EW support for USAF missions. The Air Force has proposed replacing these EA-6B aircraft with a mix of EB-52s, EB-1s, or unmanned aerial vehicles.

Last modified 13 September 2009

First Flight (EA-6A) 1963
(EA-6B) 25 May 1968
(EA-6B ICAP-2) June 1980
(EA-6B ADVCAP) 29 October 1990
(EA-6B VEP) 15 June 1992
Service Entry

July 1971

CREW: (EA-6A) two: pilot, systems officer
(EA-6B) four: pilot, three electronic countermeasures officers


$52 million

Wing Root NACA 64A009 mod
Wing Tip

NACA 64A005.9 mod

Length 59.83 ft (18.24 m)
Wingspan 53.00 ft (16.15 m)
Height 16.25 ft (4.95 m)
Wing Area 528.9 ft (49.13 m)
Canard Area

not applicable

Empty 31,570 lb (14,320 kg)
Normal Takeoff 54,460 lb (24,705 kg) with five jammer pods
Max Takeoff 65,000 lb (29,485 kg)
Fuel Capacity internal: 15,425 lb (6,995 kg)
external: 10,025 lb (4,545 kg) in five 400 gal (1,515 L) drop tanks
Max Payload


Powerplant (EA-6A) two Pratt & Whitney J52-6 turbojets
(EA-6B) two Pratt & Whitney J52-408 turbojets
Thrust (EA-6A) 17,000 lb (75.62 kN)
(EA-6B) 22,400 lb (99.64 kN)

Max Level Speed at altitude: unknown
at sea level: 650 mph (1,045 km/h), Mach 0.86 [clean]
at sea level: 610 mph (980 km/h), Mach 0.80 [with five jammer pods]
cruise speed: 480 mph (775 km/h)
Initial Climb Rate 12,900 ft (3,930 m) / min [clean]
10,030 ft (3,055 m) / min [with five jammer pods]
Service Ceiling 41,200 ft (12,550 m) [clean]
38,000 ft (11,580 m) [clean]
Range typical: 955 nm (1,755 km) [with max payload]
ferry: 2,085 nm (3,860 km)
Endurance unknown
g-Limits +5.5

Gun none
Stations five external hardpoints
seven external hardpoints through the VEP upgrade
Air-to-Air Missile none
Air-to-Surface Missile up to two AGM-88 HARM
Bomb none
Other up to five AN/ALQ-99F jamming pods

YEA-6A EA-6A prototype modified from a YA-6A development airframe; 1 converted
EA-6A Intruder Electronic countermeasures and intelligence gathering platform based on the A-6A airframe, retained a limited attack capability and developed for the US Marines; 6 converted (3 YA-6A, 3 A-6A) and 21 built
NEA-6A EA-6A aircraft modified for use in special test roles; 1 converted
EA-6B BASCAP New-build electronic countermeasures aircraft equipped with the ALQ-99 TJS, this Basic Capability model covered four frequency bands and carried up to 5 underwing and underfuselage jammer pods; 23 built
EA-6B EXCAP Expanded Capability upgrade with improved equipment and the updated ALQ-99A TJS covering eight frequency bands; 25 built
EA-6B ICAP-1 Improved Capability upgrade including the addition of new displays, AN/ALQ-126 multiple-band defensive breakers, updated radar deception gear, and an automatic landing system; 45 built and 17 BASCAP and EXCAP models converted
EA-6B ICAP-2 Improved Capability 2 upgrade featuring software and display improvements allowing more accurate identification of hostile emitters, better power management, and greater reliability and maintainability; the external pods were also upgraded to generate signals in seven bands and to jam in two bands simultaneously; 55 ICAP-1 models converted plus more newly built
EA-6B ICAP-2/Block 86 Upgrade providing communications system improvements and the ability to fire AGM-88 HARM missiles
EA-6B ICAP-2/Block 89 Upgrade featuring new displays, an improved fire detection and extinguishing system, and other safety enhancements
EA-6B ICAP-2/Block 89A Upgrade adding a new instrumented landing system with GPS and inertial navigation plus communications enhancements
EA-6B ADVCAP Advanced Capability upgrade introducing new jammer transmission and passive detection capabilities, an improved chaff dispenser, GPS, and electronically steered antennas
EA-6B ADVCAP/Block 91 Avionics Improvement Program upgrade adding new displays, radar improvements, jamming suite upgrades, a communications jamming system, and a digital auto-pilot
EA-6B VEP Vehicle Enhancement Program to incorporate structural and aerodynamic improvements including the addition of fuselage strakes, modified flaps, slats, speed brakes, and a fin extension, uprated engines, and the addition of two wing pylons dedicated to carrying HARM missiles
NEA-6B EA-6B prototypes modified for special test purposes; 2 converted


Vietnam War (USN, USMC 1965-1972)
Grenada - Operation Urgent Fury (USN, 1983)
Libya - Operation El Dorado Canyon (USN, USMC, 1986)
Iraq - Operation Desert Storm (USN, USMC, 1991)
Bosnia - Operation Deliberate Force (USN, 1995)
Kosovo - Operation Allied Force (USN, USMC, 1999)
Afghanistan - Operation Enduring Freedom (USN, USMC, USAF, 2001-present)
Iraq - Operation Iraqi Freedom (USN, USMC, USAF, 2003-present)


United States (US Air Force)
United States (US Marine Corps)
United States (US Navy)


EA-6B Prowler

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  • Bonds, Ray, ed. The Modern US War Machine: An Encyclopedia of American Military Equipment and Strategy. NY: Military Press, 1987, p. 182-183.
  • Donald, David, ed. The Complete Encyclopedia of World Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 1997, p. 470, Grumman A-6 Intruder/EA-6B Prowler.
  • Donald, David and Lake, Jon, ed. The Encyclopedia of World Military Aircraft. NY: Barnes & Noble, 2000, p. 183-184, Grumman EA-6B Prowler.
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  • Laur, Timothy M. and Llanso, Steven L. Encyclopedia of Modern U.S. Military Weapons. NY: Berkley Books, 1995, p. 63-65, Prowler (EA-6B).
  • Miller, David, ed. The Illustrated Directory of Modern American Weapons. London: Salamander Books, 2002, p. 190-193, Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler.
  • Rendall, David. Jane's Aircraft Recognition Guide, 2nd ed. London: Harper Collins Publishers, 1999, p. 82, Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler.
  • Taylor, Michael. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1996/1997. London: Brassey's, 1996, p. 192-193, Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler.
  • Taylor, Michael J. H. Brassey's World Aircraft & Systems Directory 1999/2000. London: Brassey's, 1999, p. 171, Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler.
  • US Navy EA-6B Fact Sheet

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