Marine Prowlers 'Jam' Afghan Skies

Military.com editor Ward Carroll and managing editor Christian Lowe are currently embedded with American troops in eastern Afghanistan.

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN – Although the bureau numbers on the fuselages of Marine Electronic Attack Squadron 2's EA-6B Prowlers tell of jets harkening from the Cold War, the venerable jammers have found a new and vital niche in the counterinsurgency of Afghanistan.

The Prowler was originally designed to fight complex integrated air defense systems like those designed by the former Soviet Union. Through the use of powerful pods slung under each wing, the airplane would "jam" ground-based radars, blinding the enemy and paving the way for attack jets and fighters to hit their targets.

And in the event a SAM site did fire its missiles, the Prowler would launch high-speed anti radiation, or "HARM," missiles to wipe out the air defense site before it could shoot down any of the American airplanes.

But the Taliban have no complex Soviet-style SAM systems; and the closest thing they have to an integrated air defense is when they coordinate their RPGs with their AK-47s. So what are the Marine Prowlers doing in Afghanistan?

"The EA-6 has always been predominantly non-kinetic type of asset," said Marine Maj. Robert "Kid" Kudelko, VMAQ-2's operations officer. "And in a fight that's increasingly non-kinetic in terms of ‘hearts and minds' – not wanting to cause collateral damage – we bring another dimension."

Read the rest of Ward's story here.

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