Crew members killed in plane crash belong to specialized W. Wash. squadron

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by WHITNEY WARD & KREM.com

KREM.com

Posted on March 11, 2013 at 4:59 PM

Updated Monday, Mar 11 at 6:26 PM

Lincoln County Plane Crash

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SPOKANE, Wash. -- The pilot and two crew members aboard the EA-6B Prowler Monday are part of the only electronic warfare combat team in the entire military system.

The squadron is a highly-specialized team of pilots known as the Electronic Attack Squadron 129, or the “Fighting Vikings.” They regularly perform training exercises in Eastern Washington, including touch-and-go landings are Fairchild Air Force Base.

Western Washington’s Whidbey Island is home to the only electronic attack weapons school in the military. The pilots are extensively trained to enter hostile territory and intercept enemy communications, weapons or intelligence.

Crews usually consist of a pilot and two or three electronic countermeasures officers. Their task is to jam enemy radar systems and gather radio intelligence. Their plane also has the capability of carrying and firing anti-radiation missiles.

The team is a close-knit one. On their Facebook page Monday, comments showed sincere grief for the ones lost and pride in the squadron’s ongoing missions.

The Navy says names of those killed will not be released until Tuesday at the earliest. Protocol allows for at least 24 hours after the families are notified before the information is released to the public.

Navy investigators responded to the scene Monday to try to piece together exactly how the crash happened. Still, there is little of the plane left to examine what happened.

 

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