In the 1950s, there was an increasing need for aircraft which could detect and jam enemy radar, jam enemy missiles, locate targets, and directly attack aircraft towards them. The aircraft which could to this was invaluable; however, the right airframe was a difficult problem.
In 1956, the United States Navy ordered the A-6 Intruder, which entered service in 1963. The Navy was so pleased with the all-weather attack aircraft that it ordered an electronic countermeasures version in 1963. A prototype version of the EA-6A was flown in 1963, and the Marine Corps ordered 27 of these airplanes. The first version was little more than a modified A-6 with radar equipment and two extra seats.
Grumman developed a newer, better version in 1971—the EA-6B. When the aircraft first entered service in 1971, it was the most advanced ECM (electronic countermeasures) aircraft in the world. It was equipped with ten radar jammers and other high-tech electronic weapons, operated by the three radar officers.
In the Gulf Wars and Afghanistan, the EA-6B performed well, jamming many Iraqi radar stations to let in strike aircraft undetected. In Afghanistan, there are records of EA-6Bs jamming IED radio links.
The EA-6B, still in service, will be eventually replaced by the EA-18 Growler.
|Power plant||Two 11,200 pound Pratt & Whitney J52-P-408 turbofans|
|Height||16 feet, 2 inches|
|Speed||650 miles per hour|
|Empty weight||32,162 pounds|
|Maximum Weight||65,000 pounds|
|Range||Unrefueled 2,399 miles (with drop tanks)