Whidbey Naval Air Station says goodbye to Prowlers

OAK HARBOR — A commemorative fly-over on March 14 marked the end of the EA-6B Prowler at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

The U.S. Navy has been transitioning the electronic-attack squadron, VAQ-129, from the Prowlers to the EA-18G Growler, a radar-jamming jet.

The naval air station had been home to the Prowlers since 1971. The Marine Corps will continue to use the Prowlers, with training based on the East Coast, according to a news release.

The arrival of the Growlers in recent years has incited debate on Camano and Whidbey islands about the noise level from the jets and whether it damages people’s hearing, trees and property values.

After a number of complaints, the Navy in 2013 announced plans to study the environmental and health impacts of its flight operations on neighbors and on the Ebey’s Landing National Historic Reserve, an area of central Whidbey Island overseen by the National Park Service.

The Growlers, made by Boeing, carry high-speed anti-radiation missiles. They’re based on Boeing’s two-seat, twin-engine F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter jet, with electronic systems built by Northrop-Grumman.

Thirteen electronic-attack squadrons are based at the naval air station.

The Navy on Friday called last weekend’s commemorative Prowler flight over Whidbey “the end of an era.”

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