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MCARA Aircraft > EA-6B ICAP-I Prowler

EA-6B Prowler Improved Capability (ICAP) I

The EA-6B Prowler ICAP-I aircraft was selected by the Marine Corps in 1974 to replace the EA-6A Intruder beginning in 1977. (See EA-6B ICAP-I History). ICAP- I was the third major configuration of the evolutionary EA-6B program following the initial Basic Capability and Expanded Capability versions that had entered service with the Navy in 1970 and 1973 respectively.

The ICAP-I configuration brought major improvements both to the ALQ-99 On –Board- System and Tactical Jamming System, as well as introduction of the APS-130 radar and AlQ-126A DECM systems. The most significant change was the reorganization of the cockpit displays and controls for the three ECMO positions that provided vastly improved crew coordination. The two ECMOS in the rear cockpit were equipped with new (mirror image) displays and controls to allow them to monitor the electronic spectrum and manage the employment of the pod-mounted jammers in a fully integrated manner. ECMO 1 in the front cockpit was provided new navigation displays and controls and assumed control over the communications jamming equipment. In essence the aircraft control and navigation functions were better integrated in the front cockpit while the major EW functions were shifted to the rear cockpit.

Although there were no significant changes to the receiving system hardware components or the AN/AYK-6B computer group, significantly improved operational utility was gained by introduction of all new mission critical software. One of the major improvements was full integration of the digital recording system to allow post mission analysis by the Marine Corps TERPES. Pre-flight mission planning and rapid programming of the mission computer was made possible with the introduction of the TEAMS mission planning system.

The Marine Corps aircrews and maintenance personnel received their basic training in the EA-6B from the VAQ-129, the Navy’s Fleet Replacement Squadron at NAS Whidbey Island, Washington.

The ICAP-I production lot of 45 aircraft began with the 54th production aircraft and 17 older configuration airframes were converted. Under the MOU signed by the Navy and Marine Corps, the Marine Corps received all new production aircraft beginning with BuNo 160432 which was picked up from Grumman by an all Marine aircrew on 16 February 1977.

(By Col H, Wayne Whitten USMC (ret))