Black Ravens fly ICAP III, contribute to development
VAQ-135 became one of the first EA-6B squadrons to fly an ICAP III equipped aircraft recently.
The flights came after four members of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 9 (VX-9) arrived at the squadron from China Lake, Calif., Aug. 18, and briefed the Ravens ready room on ICAP III systems, capabilities, and operation.
The ICAP III, or Improved Capability Prowler III is a long-awaited upgrade to EA-6B systems and capabilities that has been in development by Northrop-Grumman for several years and is currently being tested by VX-9.
Lt. Ernie Winston’s brief promised many interesting aircraft innovations. With their curiosity peeked the Black Ravens plunged into their hands-on ICAP III education, scrapping among themselves for flights around the local area.
Under the supervision of VX-9 members, the Ravens spent two days playing with the new toys before Saturday intruded on their games and forced them to rest. Not to be denied for long, the Ravens were at it again on Sunday when some of them experimented with the systems as they ferried the VX-9 bird down to NAS North Island.
Working out of North Island that Monday, Ravens got to test the aircraft in the Maritime Integrated Tailored Training (MITT) exercise under conditions more akin to those faced in operational scenarios. Following that, the squadron flew the ICAP III jet out to the welcoming deck of the USS Nimitz.
Aboard the Nimitz, Ravens began Carrier Qualification (CQ) operations and fulfilled their end of the bargain with respect to VX-9. As part of the operational testing of the ICAP III systems, VX-9 needed to evaluate system performance under the stresses of launching and recovering aboard a carrier deck and also evaluate the usefulness of the displays during nighttime carrier operations. Earlier attempts to these ends had been foiled by difficulties in accumulating enough traps for proper evaluation. However, grafted to the Ravens CQ Detachment the testing mission was destined for success and VX-9 was handily furnished with the requisite traps.
The short partnership between VAQ-135 and VX-9 proved an unqualified triumph as both squadrons and the ICAP III program as a whole benefited from the arrangement. The Black Ravens were able to test and become familiar with the new equipment to prepare for a possible future transition, while VX-9 was able to finish an elusory portion of their testing.
As Winston said, We could not have completed the ICAP III Operational Evaluation if not for the support of VAQ-135.”
© 2004 Sound Publishing, Inc.