This article first appeared in the April 1971 Flight Test News.

The initial carrier trials of the Grumman EA-6B were completed in January. The test aircraft was flown by Navy pilots from the Carrier Suitability Branch of the Naval Air Test Center (NATC), Patuxent River, Maryland. The trials were conducted aboard the USS Midway (CVA 41), off the coast of California.

The EA-6B, a four place electronics countermeasures (ECM) aircraft is a derivative of the A-6A “Intruder.” The EA-6B is designed to perform standoff jamming and ECM penetration missions. The aircraft can carry up to five tactical jamming pods on one fuselage centerline and four wing stations. For ferry missions, 300 gallon drop tanks can be carried on these stations.

These trials were part of the Board of Inspection and Survey (BIS) evaluation of the aircraft. They allowed Navy evaluation of the compatibility of the aircraft with the carrier environment. The trials were preceded by a contractor carrier suitability demonstration and a Navy land base carrier suitability BIS evaluation.

The contractor carrier suitability demonstration, which was performed last summer, demonstrated the aircraft’s structural integrity and dynamic characteristics when operating with carrier type catapulting and arresting gear. These tests were performed using the TC-7 steam catapult and the MK-7 arresting gear installed at NATC. The carrier suitability BIS, which followed, allowed Navy familiarization with, and evaluation of the airplane, using the NATC facilities, prior to the carrier trials.

During the trials, minimum catapulting end speeds, approach characteristics, and deck handling were evaluated. Minimum end speeds were determined in three aircraft store configurations, by conducting a series of catapult launches, in each, at decreasing end of launch airspeeds. A portable L-band telemetry ground station, operated by NATC personnel, allowed immediate evaluation of critical parameters after each launch. Each series of launches was continued until a minimum end speed was reached, due to flying qualities or excessive aircraft sink off the bow of the ship. The values determined during these trials will be used in determining end speed criteria for fleet operations.

The trials permitted evaluation of the aircraft’s handling characteristics during approaches through the turbulence generated by the carrier. The test airplane was maneuvered on the flight and hangar decks, using standard Navy handling equipment to demonstrate compatibility with this equipment under shipboard conditions.

This article first appeared in the April 1971 Flight Test News.

One thought on “EA-6B Initial Carrier Trials Completed

Comments are closed.

Copyright © 2018