Navy passes mid-point in Prowler-Growler transition

Last month saw the eighth Whidbey Island Naval Air Station electronic attack squadron complete its transition from the EA-6B Prowler to the EA-18G Growler.

The VAQ-129 Vikings, which has piloted Prowlers since the 1970s, conducted a final flyover last month to commemorate the transition.

“The EA-6B aircraft gave the crew the confidence that they would always make it back to the ship following combat and other operations because of the aircraft’s design simplicity and build quality,” said Kent Mathes, former EA-6B electronic countermeasures officer at the event.

Of the 14 electronic attack squadrons on base, six more are slated to complete the transition over the next three years, according to Mike Welding, NAS Whidbey public affairs officer.

NAS Whidbey is the only base where Growlers are stationed.

Three more squadrons are slated to make the transition this year, the VAQ-133 Wizards, the VAQ-209 Star Warriors and the VAQ-140 Patriots.

The VAQ-131 Lancers and the VAQ-142 Gray Wolves are scheduled to transition in 2015, with the final squadron, the VAQ-134 Garudas, making the transition in 2016.

Some Prowlers will continue to be stationed at Cherry Point Marine Corps Air Station in North Carolina after the Navy completes its transition in 2016.

The Prowler, manufactured by Northrop-Grumman, and the Boeing Co.-produced Growler are all-weather, electronic attack aircraft with the primary role of suppressing enemy electronic capabilities through tactical jamming and the delivery of high-speed anti-radiation missiles.

Meanwhile, Friday saw the issue of the last Pratt & Whitney J52 engine, used on both the Prowlers and the A-6 Intruders, which were retired in the 1990s.

The J52 engine has been a part of the electronic attack community for more than 56 years.


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