The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum at Miramar added a new aircraft to its historical ranks Tuesday with the arrival of a Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler.
The aircraft originated from Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 131 aboard Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash.
“This aircraft has been a long-time Marine aircraft,” said Clyde Cain, Northrop Grumman employee and volunteer with the museum at Air Station Miramar. “We have been fortunate enough to acquire one for our museum as the military transitions to the EA-18G Growlers.”
With top speeds reaching approximately 650 mph, the Prowler’s capabilities also included special systems designed to disrupt enemy radar and communications. Once enemy electrical equipment is disabled, troops or other aircraft can enter the area and either find and engage the enemy or provide crucial aerial support.
A crew from VAQ-131 arrived beforehand to demilitarize and prepare the aircraft for retirement at the museum. The crew is slated to visit the USS Midway Museum to do the same to another of the squadron’s former aircraft, explained Cain.
For one of the pilots, seeing the Navy and Marine Corps move toward a more technologically advanced aircraft is bittersweet.
“We’re going to miss flying the aircraft, and the crew concept will be a little bit different as we move on to [the Growler],” said Navy Lt. Ana Brown, one of four pilots with VAQ-131 who delivered the retiring aircraft. “We did a lot of combat missions out in Afghanistan and Iraq that helped a lot of our guys out.”
The museum staff will help to preserve and carry on the great legacy the EA-6B Prowler leaves behind. Even after it’s replaced by the Growler, Brown looks forward to a new generation having the opportunity to see the glory of her former aircraft.
“It’ll be awesome to bring my son down here when he’s a little bit older to show him what his mom used to fly,” said Brown. “Our squadron will transition to the Growler, a more advanced aircraft with new technology, but the mission will stay the same. We’re excited for the future and what it holds.”
The Prowler is slated to be ready for public viewing at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum in early March.
The Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum is free and open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. For more information, please visit www.flyingleathernecks.org, or call 1-877-FLY-USMC (359-8762).
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