Yes, that was a Tornado aerial refueling in afterburner. Heavily laden attack jets usually operate at a fairly low altitude (think the mid 20s) and keeping up with a tanker like a KC-10 at 30 or 35k takes afterburner.
Oh, and that little MRAD light? And then an explosion down below? Yes, they’re linked. But I’m not gonna say how.
We’re on the road this weekend, so posting is probably going to be pretty thin.
That pic is from 2007 or so. At that time, there wasn’t a lot of need for radar jamming in Iraq or Afghanistan. But in addition to being a world class radar jammer, the EA-6B is pretty good at intercepting tactical communications. One wonders just what techniques and procedures the Prowlers might have been using.
As an aside, that jet is from VMAQ-2, the Death Jesters. Back in the days before the Tailhook ‘91 scandal, they were known as The Playboys- complete with the bunny on their tail. Now take a glance at the “CY” tailcode on this jet.
With the last Navy EA-6B Prowler deployment underway, it seems a fitting time to share this propaganda video about the Prowler. The hairstyles and the paint job tells me its from the late 70s. Indeed, I remember “Prowler University” of VAQ-129 in the old WWII temporary building.
Actually, further research reminds me Charlie Hunter was COMMATVAQWINGPAC from 80-82. Charlie Hunter was a renowned A-6 Intruder pilot, and a recipient of the Navy Cross, the second highest award for valor our nation can bestow.
The Grumman EA-6B Prowler is a four place electronic warfare plane that specializes in jamming enemy radars and communications.
Like virtually all tactical jets, the crew rides on ejection seats.
In the video above, you’ll see all four seats fire at intervals of about half a second. If you look carefully, you see that they fire the back seats first, then the front seats. Additionally, the seats fire at a very slight angle outboard from the aircraft to generate separation between the seats. To cause the seats to angle outboard, the rocket motor is very slightly off centerline of the seat. Having the thrust line off centerline causes the angle of flight.
Here’s a picture of a test of the S-3B Viking, with a similar 4 seat ejection.
The GRUEA-7 Ejection Seats are simply superb—all I did was attach brass handles. On the Prowler, the firing mechanisms on top of the ejection seats are color coded to help the aviators ensure that the correct seat has been installed. The seats were painted the appropriate colors, (white for the left rear seat; orange for the right rear seat; purple for the right front seat; brown for the left front seat) and installed.
Sadly, in the video above, the pitching motion of the Prowler as it went off the bow caused the pilot’s seat to collide with another seat, killing the pilot. The three Electronic Countermeasures Officers (ECMOs) were recovered.