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Five “Prowler” aircraft at Iwakuni, and several more at Atsugi, won’t be affected by the Navy’s plans to ground scores of the aging tactical electronic attack aircraft, a U.S. newspaper has reported.

The Naval Air System Command grounded the EA-6B Prowlers for repairs and maintenance due to structural fatigue and damage, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported, citing the Naval Air Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander in San Diego.

The Prowlers in Japan are attached to Navy Electronic Attack Squadron 128 at Iwakuni Marine Corps Air Station and Carrier Air Wing 5 at Naval Air Facility Atsugi. Those with the air wing deploy on the aircraft carrier USS Kitty Hawk, permanently based at Yokosuka Naval Base.

NAVAIR officials plan to remove an additional 24 Prowlers, at an average age of 20.7 years, in about two months, according to Navy information released Wednesday. Among reasons cited: “engineering evaluations of structural health.”

Lt. j.g. Nicole Kratzer, a Carrier Air Wing 5 spokeswoman, said Thursday, “None of our Prowlers have been grounded for wing problems, or any other repairs.”

Prowlers are anticipated to return to pre-Operation Iraqi Freedom numbers in about two years. The veteran warplanes are being used until the EA-18G is introduced beginning in 2009, the report stated.

— Juliana Gittler contributed to this report.

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