03/06/2016: Four EA-6B Prowlers assigned to 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing’s Prowler Squadrons (VMAQT-1, VMAQ-2, 3, and 4) conduct a “Final Four” division flight near Cherry Point, N.C., March. 1, 2016.
The 4 Prowlers flew together one last time before the official retirement of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron 1 at the end of the Fiscal Year 2016.
Credit:2nd Marine Aircraft Wing Combat Camera:3/1/16
MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. – Four EA-6B Prowlers belonging to each Prowler squadron aboard Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point conducted a “Final Four” division flight aboard the air station March 1, 2016.
The squadrons have a very high operational tempo, so it is rare to see all four squadrons home at the same time. In an effort to highlight this platforms legacy, the “Final Four” flight came to fruition.
As technology changes and new innovations emerge, the Marine Corps acknowledges and remembers the accomplishments of this platform and what it has done for the nation during its time in service, and what it will continue to do over the next four years.
Marine Air-Ground Task Force Electronic Warfare is what the Marine Corps will transition to as the Prowler is replaced.
MAGTF EW is a more distributed strategy where every platform contributes and functions as a sensor, shooter and sharer.
This includes an EW node that moves relevant tactical information throughout the electromagnetic spectrum and across the battlefield faster than ever before.
Under MAGTF EW, the Marine Corps is leveraging emerging technologies and integrating multiple aviation platforms including, unmanned, fixed wing, and rotary wing assets, payloads, ground-based EW nodes, and cyber capabilities to provide commanders with an organic and persistent EW capability for every MAGTF.
The “Final Four” flight is the last time the Prowler squadrons will be flying together before the official retirement of Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron 1 at the end of Fiscal Year 16 and the eventual transition to MAGTF EW.
VMAQT-1 traces its lineage back to Korea when it was known as Marine Composite Squadron 1, flying electronic counter-measure missions for UN aircraft.
Throughout the years, it has re-designated many times and alongside the other Prowler squadrons, flew combat missions in support of every conflict ranging from Vietnam to operations in Iran, the former Yugoslavia, Operations Iraqi/Enduring Freedom and everything in between.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2013 that VMAQT-1 assumed fleet replacement squadron responsibilities and was officially named VMAQT-1. Today, VMAQT-1 trains Prowler pilots, electronic countermeasure officers and maintainers, readying the men and women it trains to join the other three squadrons as they continue to conduct missions in support of joint and strategic objectives.
This integration of manned and unmanned airborne and ground EW capabilities will provide the MAGTF commander with greater flexibility and control of the electromagnetic spectrum and in many cases, will give the commander a capability where previously they had none.
MAGTF EW assets will be modular, scalable, and networked, utilizing an open architecture that is rapidly adaptable and remotely re-programmable at the tactical level to support future Marine Corps warfighting requirements.
As these legacy aircraft conduct their last flyover together, aboard MCAS Cherry Point, 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing respects the incredible support provided by the Marines of the Prowler squadrons over the years and looks forward to what the future will bring.
Earlier, we conducted interviews at 2nd Marine Air Wing and Yuma which discussed the transition.
The Prowler is due to be retired in 2019 and will be replaced by a wide-ranging focus on EW throughout the MAGTF.
One asset that will play a role will clearly be the F-35, which is in Ed Timperlake’s words, a “tron warfare aircraft.”
And Major Summa, the XO of the Green Knights, who is taking over as the Warlords CO highlighted how the F-35 affected the EW approach:
Question: Obviously your pilots need to be trained to combine the air-to-air and CAS capabilities and to use the new organic tools sets as well?
Major Summa: It does.
Now we’re going to have a pilot that’s versed in doing CAS, if he needs to use the electromagnetic spectrum or exploit it to accomplish his mission, he’ll be educated and have the equipment to do so.
If he needs to use it in the air-to-air arena to exploit it, to accomplish his mission, he’ll have the training and the equipment needed to use it as well.
In the current situation, I would deploy a Prowler to work with my legacy fighters.
he Prowler would have to be sortied and would operate only for a period of time and in a specific operational area.
With the low observability of the F-35 combined with the organic EW capability of the aircraft, the aircraft expands my capabilities for both air-to-air and CAS.
Clearly, unmanned aircraft or remotely piloted vehicles will be added to the mix as well.
Currently, the USMC Blackjacks carry payloads to contribute to EW and over time the UAV element will enhance its role as well.
In an article by Joshua Stewart in Marine Corps Times published on January 29, 2015, the shift in roles of Marines in supporting EW was discussed.
As the EA-6B Prowler flies into retirement and the Corps takes a new approach to electronic warfare, some Marines who spent their careers in the radar-jamming aircraft will be transferred to other military occupation specialties, and many will work with unmanned aircraft.
About 10 percent of Marines in the 7588 electronic warfare officer MOS will become 7315 unmanned aircraft systems officers. Concurrently, the Corps is changing the duties of the 7315 MOS.
“The new 7315 MOS will provide us with a cadre of better-trained and more versatile [unmanned aircraft systems] officers capable of serving in a variety of operational roles in support of Marine Corps doctrine,” said Maj. Paul Greenberg, a Marine spokesman at the Pentagon.
Most of the transitioning electronic warfare Marines will be company-grade officers with a primary 7588 MOS, Greenberg said. Other electronic warfare officers will stay in that MOS until they leave the service, and will serve in B-billets, he said.
The electronic warfare community’s transition is one facet of the Corps’ new approach to controlling the electromagnetic spectrum in battle, and the service’s new philosophy is more complex than merely rolling dozens of Marines from a niche community into a new MOS.
Currently, Prowlers are the service’s electronic warfare workhorse, but in the future, a variety of platforms — including unmanned systems, rotary aircraft and ground vehicles — will also be a part of this warfare domain. It amounts to a Corps-wide makeover of electronic warfare in which manipulating and monitoring the electromagnetic spectrum is a more integral part of every aspect of combat.
For our Special Report on Tron Warfare in a flip book format see the following: