EF-111  SparkVark

The EF-111A Ravens, known affectionately as "Fat Tails" and "Spark Varks," served as tactical electronic jamming aircraft in the 1980s and 1990s.  The first of 42 EF-111As was received in November 1981 and the last in 1985.  The EF-111As were involved in several conflicts the USAF had been called upon to support beginning in 1986. In every case the aircraft and its crews provided unsurpassed electronic jamming support.


The Raven had its beginning in the 1970s when the Grumman Company began modifying 42 F-111A aircraft with the addition of the electronic jamming equipment to create the EF-111A aircraft.  The modifications consisted of a 16-foot-long narrow canoe-shaped radome on the underside for the fuselage to house the antennae for the high-powered jamming transmitters and a fin-tip pod on the vertical stabilizer to house the receiving antenna and other equipment, including a processor to detect hostile radar emissions.  The electronic jamming equipment weighed approximately 8,000 Ibs.   As a result of the modifications, the electronic warfare officer, the right seat crewmember, no longer performed flight-related duties but only monitored the aircraft's electronic jamming equipment.   In 1984, Grumman/General Dynamics Corporation began building additional modification kits for the EF-111A to enable the aircraft to operate in three roles: standoff jamming, close in jamming and penetration/escort.

The EF-111A Raven pictured here was assigned to the 390th Electronic Combat Squadron based at Mountain Home AFB, Idaho and the 42nd Electronic Combat Squadron based at RAF Upper Heyford, England.  In 1992, these aircraft were relocated to the 429th Electronic Combat Squadron at Cannon AFB, New Mexico.  
(NMUSAF)

 

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