Since the Vietnam war, the EA-6B Prowler has been the U.S. Navy’s primary carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft, jamming enemy radars and providing an umbrella of protection for enemy tracking systems for U.S. attack and fighter aircraft.
Based on the A-6 Intruder ground attack aircraft, 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.
Two significant upgrades now in development are the Improved Capability (ICAP III) and the Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS). The ICAP III, approved for Low Rate Initial Production in June 2003, upgrades the on board receiving system, providing an accurate threat emitter geo-locator and a selective reactive jamming capability against modern threat systems. The ICAP III upgrade includes new cockpit displays, improved systems connectivity, and improved system reliability.
The MIDS upgrade provides the ability to receive and utilize data via the Link 16 tactical data link. The Initial Operational Capabilities are planned for March and November 2005, respectively.
More recently, the EA-6B has been adapted to intercept communications and it has been used extensively to jam or activate radio controlled improvised explosive devices in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The EA-6B Prowler is gradually being replaced by the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.