MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. --
With no fanfare other than the fading rumble of its twin
turbojet engines, the last EA-6B Prowler scheduled to fly at Marine Corps
Auxiliary Landing Field Bogue disappeared into the afternoon haze August 21,
2015, after practicing its final landings on the airfield’s expeditionary style
The training, which was designed to build student pilots’
confidence in their ability to land on expeditionary airfields, was just
another phase of education for the final Prowler pilot trainees at Marine
Tactical Electronic Warfare Training Squadron 1. The 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing squadron is
based at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, North Carolina.
VMAQT-1 is slated to retire next summer, part of the
four-year phase-out of the Marine Corps’ venerable EA-6B Prowler, but the
squadron still has students completing their training to ensure enough
qualified pilots will be available to meet the mission requirements into 2019.
“The Navy has EA-18G Growlers, which has pretty much taken
over the mission,” said Maj. Mark Weinrich executive officer for VMAQT-1. “The
Marines Corps is going to assist them in systems concepts to cover any gaps in
electronic warfare or attack.”
According to Weinrich, the Marine Corps will use F-35’s and
unmanned aerial systems to take the mission of the Prowler.
“It is the Prowler Sundown, which means that the
platform is going away,” said Maj. John Brennan, the director of safety and
standardization with VMAQT-1. “Our squadron is training our last four pilots
here today at Bogue.”
Bogue was used to train student pilots for landings
on shorter runways, under less than ideal conditions.
“Bogue field is about half the runway length of
normal runways,” said Weinrich. “If they had to come into an expeditionary
airfield, they could do so with confidence, or if they had to come in during an
According to Brennan, the students’ syllabi will be
completed in May.
“It is a little bit like going back to square one,”
said Capt. Zebulun Josey, a student pilot with VMAQT-1. “Generally a lot of the
newer pilots will learn or transition to learning a different aircraft after
the Prowler goes away.”
All the current students will go to VMAQ-2, VMAQ-3,
VMAQ-4, and nearly half the staff will go to VMAQ-2 or VMAQ-3.
“There is a
lot of history in the Prowler and I feel privileged to be one of the last few
people to learn how to fly it,” said Josey.