MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
Marine Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 Marines returned to MCAS Cherry Point from Afghanistan Nov. 16 bringing a close to the historic first Marine deployment of the EA-6B Increased Capability III aircraft.
“We were the very first ICAP III Prowler squadron to go into Afghanistan,” said Sgt. Maj. Jerry L. Bates II, VMAQ-4 sergeant major. “We had a few kinks that we worked out but, for the most part, everything went well for the new jets we received about a year ago. They allowed us to go over there and provide support that was needed that had not been provided before.”
Since its introduction to the fleet in the 1970s, the EA-6B Prowler aircraft has been upgraded several times to maintain viability in the ever-changing environment of electronic warfare.
“The ICAP III has improved the Prowler’s capability against the latest generation of radars deployed by our adversaries throughout the world,” said Kirsti Dunn, a representative of Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems, developer of the Prowler. “The ICAP III upgrade provides rapid detection, precise classification and highly accurate geo-location of electronic emissions such as radars.”
VMAQ-4 aircraft were not placed in their conventional role, but they did put their abilities to use.
“The Prowler itself was designed to protect aircraft from integrated air defense systems, which Afghanistan does not have,” said Maj. Stephen D. Driskill, the squadron’s operations officer. “Since deploying we have adjusted to support the ground force commander, and the ICAP III allows us to improve some of the jammer techniques and situational awareness available to the aircrew, which results in improved support given to the ground force commander, the Marines, soldiers and coalition forces.”
While deployed, the Prowlers conducted non-traditional jamming missions to directly support the ground forces, Driskill said.
“I worked hard and studied a lot, got to fly a great deal and further my experience with the Prowler mission,” said Capt. Jon C. Banks, a pilot with VMAQ-4. “I think the ICAP III makes the Prowler a much more capable asset and used a lot better in theater. It was good to be the first Marine ICAP III Prowler squadron in Operation Enduring Freedom.”