Air Force EWO graduates from Navy Growler training at Whidbey

By AFNS on July 6, 2011

MOUNTAIN HOME AIR FORCE BASE, Idaho (AFNS) -- An electronic warfare officer became the first Air Force EWO to graduate from the 10-month-long Navy EA-18G Growler training at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., June 28.

Capt. Cole Davenport, who is with the 390th Electronic Combat Squadron, completed his first training sortie Sept. 7, 2010.

"It marked the beginning of a transition from the EA-6B Prowler to the EA-18G Growler for the 390th ECS, and continues the Navy and Air Force cooperation in the Joint Electronic Attack arena," said Maj. Don Keen, the director of operations for the 390th ECS, which is attached to the 366th Fighter Wing here.

The Air Force has worked with the Navy for 16 years since the EF-111 Raven was retired, leaving the Air Force with no fighter-type electronic warfare aircraft other than the EC-130H Compass Call. It is with the Navy's EA-6B Prowler and EA-18G Growler that Air Force electronic warfare officers can gain knowledge and better prepare for the future.

"The Navy gives us a really hard time about being in the Air Force and they pick on us for some of the ways we talk, and some of the things we do," Davenport said. "But, they are a joy to fly with and they are very professional. Flying in the Growler is an awesome opportunity."

During the extensive training, students learn the basics of the aircraft and emergency procedures inside a simulator, as well as perform familiarization flights.

"They'll start with the academics about all the different aircraft systems, and then go to the simulator to start practicing what they've learned," said Maj. Martin Rann, an EA-6B Prowler instructor with Fixed Wing Electronic Attack Squadron 129. "As their training progresses, they may have academics in the morning, a flight in the afternoon or even two flights a day."

During the air-to-air portion of training, students learn basic fighter maneuvers similar to "dog-fighting," air combat maneuvering, intercepts and, finally, electronic warfare.

The students are taught to locate and jam emitters, radar systems and other communications, as well as how to employ anti-radiation missiles designed to go after any radars that are radiating, Rann said.

After completing training, personnel are spread out amongst five EA-6B Prowler carrier squadrons. There will also be Air Force officers in the expeditionary EA-18G Growler squadrons later this summer.

"I look forward to joining the fleet and going out and employing with the Air Force, Navy and Marines and actually getting to go out and do the mission," Davenport said.

The 390th ECS has 18 personnel with weapon systems backgrounds from current and previous officers that consist of F-111, EF-111, F-4G, F-15E, F-15C, F-16, A-10, B-1, B-52, RC-135, EC-130, AC-130, U-2 and RQ-1 aircraft.

"A lot of people know the Air Force is here," said Capt. Alain Martinez, an EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare officer with Fixed Wing Electronic Attack Squadron 140. "But when they see us flying the aircraft, a lot of the people are surprised and impressed that we are supporting the Navy, Marines and the electronic attack arena."

After completing a three-year tour, Air Force personnel return to their designated aircraft and continue to pass on the wealth of knowledge received in the joint environment.

"The men and women we have here at the 390th are truly unique in the aspect that they understand the joint nature of today's fight," said Lt. Col. Karl Fischbach, the 390th ECS commander. "We deploy and fight as a joint team, and the young captains, even lieutenants, experience that on a daily basis here with the Navy. It truly is a joint team/joint mission area, and these guys really understand that and develop as Airmen and electronic warfare officers. They can bring a lot back to the Air Force."