From Prowlers to Growlers

Members of the 390th Electronic Combat Squadron have joined their Navy partners in transitioning to new EA-18G electronic attack jets after decades of flying in Vietnam-vintage EA-6Bs, announced the Air Force on Aug. 11. The 390th ECS is teamed with VAQ-129, the Navy’s electronic warfare training squadron at NAS Whidbey Island, Wash., to provide Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps pilots and electronic warfare officers for joint airborne electronic attack missions. Since the Air Force retired the last of its EA-111 Ravens in the 1990s, the Navy and Marine Corps operate the only aircraft that conduct escort jamming missions, in which EW aircraft accompany strike airplanes inbound to the target, to jam enemy radars and radios. The airmen trained at Whidbey Island fly in the Navy’s “expeditionary” electronic attack squadrons, which are land-based to support joint air operations. Other Navy EW squadrons operate from aircraft carriers. The Navy intends to retire all of its four-seat EA-6B Prowlers and fly only the two-place EA-18G Growlers in coming years. The 390th ECS made the switch in July, according to the service’s release. “We will be supporting the Air Force, whether it’s in training or combat,” said Air Force Maj. Ajay Giri, an EWO with VAQ-129.