The following blog was written by Cmdr. Sean P. Higgins, commanding officer of the Patriots of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 140.
Using their aviation warfare skills, my Sailors support the Navy’s overall Warfighting mission by providing Airborne Electronic Attack in support of the carrier strike group’s missions of power projection and dominance of the maritime through maritime air support, suppression of enemy air defenses and defense of the carrier strike group.
As the Commanding Officer of the VAQ-140 Patriots, I lead 185 sailors flying the venerable EA-6B Improved Capabilities III (ICAP-III) Prowler. The EA-6B Prowler first saw service in Southwest Asia in 1972 during the end of the Vietnam War. At the time of its introduction to the fleet it was cutting edge technology designed to support the carrier strike group and the air wing. Since then it has been upgraded with 21st century advanced avionics. Our mission allows our air wing fighters and attack aircraft to penetrate the enemy’s advanced defenses, strike their targets and return to the carrier. The EA-6B Prowler may be “Old Iron” on the surface but it has new wiring and avionics under the skin, American innovation at its finest.
The heart of our upgraded technology lies in the ability to execute Network Centric Warfare combining data link technology with a man in the loop interface allowing the aircraft and its four man crew to locate targets then deny, degrade or destroy them in order to protect the air wing strike package or the fleet at sea.
While machines can be fixed and replaced, people are the number one resource we have. Our Sailors are truly the heart of our operations and our success. Our Aviation Electronics Technicians, or “AT’s” for short, maintain and repair our ALQ-218 advanced receiver suite and our ALQ-99 jamming pods. These weapons systems are the heart of our aircraft’s capability.
The AT’s ability troubleshoot and repair the Prowler’s advanced weapons system is paramount to our success. A solid foundation of both schoolhouse and on the job training (OJT) combined with best practices passed on by seasoned professionals enable them to master the electronic spectrum and provide the best weapon systems America has to offer for each and every combat mission. Without our Aviation Electronics Technicians ability to service and repair our advanced weapons systems, our aircraft would be nothing but a relic of the past. Thanks to them our technology is relevant, accurate and lethal against the enemy’s defenses.
Our EA-6B ICAP-III Prowlers and our Patriot Sailors are a symbol of American ingenuity, constantly improving in order to adjust to a changing environment. VAQ-140 Patriots, Americans defending our freedoms with the best America has to offer. Who says an old war dog can’t learn new tricks?