MCARA Aircraft > Grumman EA-6A Intruder
The Marine Corp’s first production aircraft dedicated to Electronic Warfare entered service with VMCJ-2 in December 1965 and was deployed to Vietnam in October 1966 where it saw continuing service with VMCJ-1 throughout that conflict. Twenty seven of these two-place, twin engine, carrier capable variants of the Grumman USN/USMC A-6A attack aircraft were delivered.
The EA-6A is recognized as the premier U.S. tactical ECM support aircraft in the Vietnam era employing a full spectrum receiving system integrated with up to 20 steerable high power radar jammers housed in 5 external pods, two chaff dispensing pods, and a state-of- the art communications jammer. It was capable of carrying the Shrike anti-radiation missile but did not employ the Shrike in Vietnam due to limitations of the missile.
The EA-6A was the first aircraft employed in a modified ECM escort role, escorting USMC A-6A’s attacking heavily defended targets at night deep in North Vietnam. It was instrumental in reducing losses of Navy and USMC attack and reconnaissance aircraft to SA-2 surface-to-air missiles and radar controlled AAA, and was a key ECM support platform for the Linebacker I & II B-52 raids that ended the NVN air war. Indicative of its performance against the NVN air defenses, none of the Air Force reconnaissance drones were lost when supported by the EA-6A despite flying alone on prescribed routes without maneuvering .
An EA-6A det was dedicated to the USS Midway from 1973-78. The EA-6A was replaced by the EA-6B ICAP-I beginning in 1977 and was retired from VMAQ-2 to the USN/USMC reserves in the early 80’s,serving with VMAQ-4 at NAS Whidbey Island until 1990.