Ike Zapper

Official caption: “ARABIAN SEA (April 13, 2021) An E/A-18G Growler attached to the “Zappers” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130 prepares to land on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) in the Arabian Sea, April 13, 2021. The Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of naval operations to ensure maritime stability and security in the Central Region, connecting the Mediterranean and Pacific through the western Indian Ocean and three strategic choke points.”

(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Trent P. Hawkins)

The aircraft, BuNo 168251 AC501, carries memorials under the starboard side of the canopy to QM2(SEAL) James Suh, killed 28 June 2005, and CTICS(IWEXW) Shannon Kent, killed 16 January 2019, both Navy servicemembers recently lost in combat. Kent, notably, is the only female cryptologist to be killed in action in the history of naval cryptology.

The Zappers date back to 1959, when they flew AD-5Q AEW versions of the A-1 Skyraider as VAW-13, later EA-1Fs, with which they started a regular presence off Vietnam on USS Midway (CVA-41) in March 1965.

This would continue, as the squadron changed to VAQ-130 and switched to flying EKA-3B “Electric Whales” through June 1974, when their detachments completed their 32nd Yankee Station deployment, having been a feature on the decks of at least 13 different carriers during those nine years.

A U.S. Navy Douglas EKA-3B Skywarrior (BuNo 147663) from Airborne Early Warning Squadron VAW-13 Det.66 Zappers at Naval Air Station Alameda, California (USA). The aircraft was attached to Attack Carrier Wing 6 (CVW-6) aboard the aircraft carrier USS America (CVA-66) for a deployment to Vietnam from 10 April to 16 December 1968.  U.S. Navy National Museum of Naval Aviation photo No. 1996.253.3749

In 1975, they ditched the Whale for the smaller and more effective EA-6B Prowler, an aircraft they would fly throughout the rest of the Cold War and a series of deployments to Southwest Asia, only switching to the Growler variant of the Rhino in 2011. They are currently attached to Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet, out of Whidbey Island, and serve under the tactical command of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3.

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