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EF-111 Raven

Electronic warfare aircraft

EF-111 Raven

The main mission of the EF-111 Raven was to jam enemy radars and weapon systems

Country of origin United States
Entered service 1981
Crew 2 men
Dimensions and weight
Length 23.17 m
Wing span (spread) 19.2 m
Wing span (swept) 9.74 m
Height 6.1 m
Weight (empty) 25 t
Weight (maximum take off) 40 t
Engines and performance
Engines 2 x Pratt & Whitney TF30-P-3
Traction (dry / with afterburning) 2 x 64.76 / 111.65 kN
Maximum speed 2 350 km/h
Service ceiling 13.7 km
Range 3 220 km
Ferry range 6 110 km
Missiles 2 x AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles (optional)


   The General Dynamics/Grumman EF-111 Raven is a modified version of the F-111 Aardvark tactical bomber. The EF-111 served as an electronic warfare and defense suppression aircraft. Its main mission was to jam enemy radar and weapon systems at standoff range. The Raven aircraft escorted offensive US battle groups.

   This electronic warfare aircraft was developed to meet the US Air Force's (USAF) requirement. Grumman formed the EF-111 Raven by modifying existing General Dynamics-built F-111A bombers (which cost $15 million to produce) at the cost of about $25 million US dollars. Although expensive, the result was a reliable and effective aircraft that fulfilled its intended role. The first EF-111 made its first flight in 1977.  In total, 42 EF-111A Ravens were converted from F-111s bombers, entering service in 1981 but only becoming operational in 1983. It replaced the aging EB-66 and EB-57 aircraft in service with the USAF, and lengthened the service lives of the F-111 Ardvark airframes.

   The EF-111A Raven is no longer in USAF's service. With pressure for post-Cold War defense economies becoming increasingly difficult to resist, the USAF withdrew its last F-111 Ardvark bombers in 1996. The EF-111 Raven aircraft followed in 1998. This allowed the USAF to stop supporting an entire aircraft type, with corresponding savings in logistics support costs. Its role was taken over by the EA-6B Prowler, which could also fulfill the important SEAD (Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses) role—something the EF-111 could not.

   The EF-111’s primary equipment is its AN/ALQ-99E jamming system. It is based on the ALQ-99, but has some improvements such as more automation and improved radar signal detection. This system detected radar signals and processed them, compared them against known threat radar signals. Once a threat has been located, various countermeasures were used. These countermeasures usually consisted of interfering with the enemy’s radar by blocking it with concentrated energy signals, either in the attempt to confuse the enemy with false information (repeater jamming) or to block it from working altogether (noise jamming). The Raven's jamming systems has a 70% commonality with the US Navy's system, used on the EA-6B Prowler.

   The EF-111 had two nicknames during its 17-year service life: "Spark Vark" (since the Raven is an electrical version of the F-111 Aardvark) and "Electric Fox".

   The EF-111 certainly had its faults. Except for a few late-service units, the Raven could not perform the suppression of enemy air defenses role, which involves locating enemy threat radar signals and shooting them with HARM anti-radiation missiles. However, the Raven made up for this with its high speed, long range, and decent jamming systems.

   The Raven was outwardly different from its parent aircraft, the F-111 bomber, because of a narrow radome under the fuselage and a pod on top of the vertical stabilizer. These two additions add about 3.5 t to the weight of the aircraft.

   The EF-111A has had only two major modifications during its service life. First was the Avionics Modernization Program (AMP), which added ten new subsystems from 1990-1997, giving the Raven better reliability, automation, signal processing, and memory. The AMP was added to all 42 aircraft. The second modification was given to only the final remaining squadron of EF-111s. In order to lengthen their service lives until a suitable replacement arrived, 12 Ravens were given SEAD abilities. These 12 units were kept for several more years than their brethren, until, at last, the EA-6B Prowler was produced in sufficient numbers.

   The EF-111A has two hardpoints on which it can optionally mount either two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles or two 2 271-liter (600-gallon) external fuel tanks.

   The EF-111A has seen combat service in nearly every country the United States Military has fought in since its introduction. It was used in Libya, Bosnia/Herzegovina, and Panama and during the Persian Gulf War.


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EF-111 Raven

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