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General Dynamics/Grumman EF-111A Raven

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The General Dynamics/Grumman EF-111A Raven was an electronic warfare aircraft designed to replace the obsolete Douglas EB-66 in the United States Air Force. Its crews and maintainers often called it the "Spark-Vark," a play on the F-111's "Aardvark" nickname. In 1972, the USAF contracted Grumman to convert some existing General Dynamics F-111As into electronic warfare/ECM aircraft. The USAF had considered the Navy Grumman EA-6B Prowler, but was reluctant to adopt a Navy aircraft. After the EF-111 retired in the 1990s, the Air Force began depending on Navy and Marine Corps EA-6B squadrons for electronic warfare. A contract to create EF-111s from existing F-111A airframes was awarded to Grumman in 1974. The first fully equipped model, known then as the "Electric Fox", flew on March 10, 1977, and deliveries to combat units began in 1981. A total of 42 airframes were converted at a total cost of $1.5 billion, the last delivered in 1985. Each F-111A cost US$15 million, with each conversion costing US$25 million. The EF-111A received the official popular name Raven, although in service it acquired the nickname "Spark 'Vark". EF-111s saw combat use during Operation El Dorado Canyon (the 1986 retaliatory attack on Libya), Operation Just Cause (Panama, 1989) and Operation Desert Storm in 1991. On January 17, 1991, a USAF EF-111 crew: Captain James Denton and Captain Brent Brandon ("Brandini") are acknowledged to have scored a kill against an Iraqi Dassault Mirage F1, which they managed to maneuver into the ground, making it the first and only F-111 to achieve an aerial victory over another aircraft. On February 13, 1991, EF-111A s/n 66-0023 crashed into terrain while maneuvering to evade a perceived enemy aircraft threat killing Pilot Capt. Douglas L. Bradt and EWO Capt. Paul R. Eichenlaub. It was the only EF-111A lost during combat, the only loss killing its crew and one of just three EF-111s lost in its history. EF-111s were also deployed to Aviano Air Base, Italy in support of Operation Deliberate Force during the mid-1990s.

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