"The 1973 Yom Kippur War demonstrated that tactical aircraft were extremely vulnerable to an enemy's large integrated air defense system, such as the type favored by the Soviets and Warsaw Pact states." Yet, the United States Air Force's Tacitcal Air Command (TAC) had not put much thought into a replacement for its EB-66 stand-off jammers. Grumman had experience with modifying fighters to become radar jammers from having upgraded their A-6 Intruder to the EA-6B Prowler, a carrier-based jammer. TAC needed a faster platform to keep up with their strike fighters though, and turned to General Dynamics' F-111. Grumman teamed up with General Dynamics (now owned by Lockheed Martin) to create the EF-111A.
Nicknamed the "Spark Vark" (as the original F-111 was officially named the "Aardvark") the Raven also was known as the "Electric Fox" before receiving its official Air Force designation. The main jamming equipment is housed in the former weapons bay, and the 10 transmitters fill a 16 foot long "canoe" and can cover seven frequency bands. The Raven retains both the APQ-160 attack radar and the APQ-110 terrain-following radar from the F-111, but replaces the weapons systems officer (WSO) with an electronic warfare officer (EWO) in the seat next to the pilot. The EF-111 also has only one set of pilot controls instead of two like its predeccessor. Unlike the Prowler, the Raven does not have any anti-radar weaponry itself, and depends instead on Wild Weasel aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon. But the Raven can carry two Aim-9 Sidewinder missiles for self-defense, something the Prowler lacks, although its main defense is pure speed and acceleration. The aircraft always has a two-toned gray color scheme, with the darker shade being on the top of the aircraft.
The first prototype flew in 1975 and the first full conversion flew in 1977. By 1985 Grumman had converted 42 F-111's, some of which were used the following year in a raid on Libya. In 1991 during the Gulf War, the Raven was one of the first aircraft to challenge Iraq's air defenses, and some smooth flying by one pilot caused a pusuing Iraqi Mirage F-1 to crash into the ground. In 1997, half of the EF-111 fleet was replaced, and in 1999 the rest of the Ravens were retired. Their mission has been passed on to a new converted version of the F-15E Strike Eagle.
Type: Two-seat supersonic electronic warfare aircraft.
Powerplant: Two 18,460-lb.-thrust Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-3 afterburning turbofan engines.
Maximum Speed: 1,408 mph at high altitude
Service Ceiling (Max Altitude): 45,000 ft.
Combat Radius: 927 miles
Weapons: Generally none, but can carry two Aim-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
Equipment: AN/ALQ-99E tactical jamming package, consisting of a System Integrated Receiver of hostile radar emissions and jamming transmitters; self-defense avionics; mapping radar; and terrain-following radar.
Weights: Empty-55,168 lbs. Loaded-88,763 lbs.
Span(Spread) 63 ft.
Span(Swept) 32 ft.
Length 70 ft.
Wing Area 525 sq. ft.
*Aircraft of the World: A Complete Guide