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Navy’s EA-6B Prowler Takes Last Active Duty Flight Before Sunset Ceremony

An EA-6B Prowler, attached to the "Garudas" of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134, left, and an F/A-18C Hornet, attached to the "Golden Warriors" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87, take off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on Oct. 25, 2014. US Navy photo.

An EA-6B Prowler, attached to the “Garudas” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 134, left, and an F/A-18C Hornet, attached to the “Golden Warriors” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87, take off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) on Oct. 25, 2014. US Navy photo.

The Navy’s EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare jet flew its last active duty flight on Wednesday and officially decommissioned at the Museum of Flight in Seattle.

The Navy will host a formal sunset ceremony at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island on June 27, where the final jets from Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-134 will fly away from their home station for the last time.

The Northrop Grumman-built jet, which entered the fleet in 1971, is being replaced by the Boeing EA-18G Growler. The Growler is built on a F/A-18E/F Super Hornet frame and has both an electronic attack suite and the APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar.

The Prowler that landed at the museum Wednesday will go on permanent display there, which curator Dan Hagedorn said in a statement will be the first electronic warfare aircraft at the museum.

“It is the missing piece that fills our story of modern military aviation,” he said.
“Prowlers have been used since the Vietnam War, and their capability to suppress enemy air defenses is still formidable. This plane will not only compliment our older military jets on exhibit, but speak for the current state-of-the-art as well.”

The museum will host a public event on the Prowler on Saturday.

VAQ-134 returned from its last carrier deployment in November, the blog Jalopnik reported, after conducting missions against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria from the carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77), according to the Navy.

The Growler platform was first delivered to Whidbey Island in 2008 and reached initial operational capability in 2009, according to the Navy. Electronic attack squadrons have been transitioning to the new platform ever since.

With the Prowlers exiting the fleet, Congress is still deciding what to do with electronic attack missions. The Navy has said it has purchased enough Growlers to cover its own electronic attack mission set but would like to buy more to meet joint force requirements. Lawmakers are still working through the Fiscal Year 2016 defense spending process and have not made final decisions about whether to fund additional Growlers.

USNI News understands the additional capabilities of the Growler are key to the Navy’s emerging Naval Intergrated Fire Control Counter Air (NIFC-CA, pronounced, nifk-ka).