Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Aviation Systems

Major Professor

W. D. Lewis

Committee Members

Franks S. Collins, Ralph D. Kimberlin


The EA-6B Prowler aircraft was designed and built in the late 1960s by the Grumman Aerospace Corporation for the United States Navy and Marine Corps as a tactical electronic warfare (EW) platform. High losses of U.S attack aircraft to surface-to-air missiles (SAMs) in the Southeast Asia theater led to the requirement for a carrier-based tactical aircraft capable of providing EW support in the form of electronic jamming in support of strike aircraft. The EA-6B became the aircraft that fulfilled the EW requirement. The thirty years that have passed since the introduction of the EA-6B has seen many additional weapons system capabilities added to the aircraft. However, the hardware used by the aircrew to employ these additional capabilities has changed little, resulting in operator information overload during combat operations.

This thesis investigated the information overload problem associated with operating a complex integrated weapons system using legacy and non-integrated controls and displays. A review of pertinent literature and military standards, coupled with the author's extensive personal experience as an EA-6B Electronic Countermeasures Officer were used as the basis of research An operator-centric cockpit design methodology utilizing human factors engineering and the systems engineering approach to problem-solving was used to identify problems associated with the contractor's proposed cockpit design for the Improved Capability III (ICAP III) EA-6B Prowler aircraft. The problems identified were. (1) critical weapons system failure alerts can go unnoticed by the ECMOs, (2) a limited display area is available for the presentation of weapons system information, (3) a high operator workload is required to monitor the status of the AN/ALQ-99 jammer pods, (4) navigational situational awareness in the rear cockpit is extremely poor, (5) the current rear cockpit pointing devices increase logistical support requirements and enforce negative habit transfer, and (6) alphanumeric character entry into the integrated weapons system is inefficient

Once identified, the methodology was employed by the author to develop a proposed cockpit design that will eliminate the problems and improve operator and system performance. If adopted and implemented by the manufacturers of the ICAP III program, the cockpit hardware and layout changes proposed by the author will result in minimal friction at the system interfaces, thus improving overall system performance

Specific recommendations that should be included to the ICAP III cockpit design are:

  1. Install a synthesized weapons system voice warning system to provide aural alerts to the ECMO 2/3 crew stations in the event of jammer pod degradations during active Electronic Attack operations.
  2. Install 8 5 inches wide by 11 inches tall (93 5 m2) color-capable AMLCD Multifunction Displays at each of the ECMO 2/3 crew stations to provide for operator visual interaction with the weapons system.
  3. Install 7 5 inches wide by 65 inches tall (48.75 square inches) color-capable AMLCD Pod Status Displays at each of the ECMO 2/3 crew stations to provide an automated real-time simultaneous status display of the ALQ-99 jammer pods
  4. Install 3.9 inches wide by 3.3 inches tall (12.87 square inches) Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicators repeaters at each of the ECMO 2/3 crew stations to assist in navigational situational awareness.
  5. Install pointing devices on the ECMO 2/3 consoles that are identical to the pointing devices installed in the forward cockpit to provide for operator tactile interaction with the weapons system
  6. Install 4.75 inches wide by 5 75 inches tall (27.3 square inches) touch-sensitive data entry keyboards on the ECMO 2/3 pedestals to serve as a primary alphanumeric entry device and secondary tactile interface with the weapons system.

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