General Dynamics EF-111 airplane model. Development of the EF-111A Raven ["Spark Varks"] began in January 1975 when the Air Force contracted with Grumman Aerospace to modify two F-111As to serve as electronic warfare platforms. The F-111s high speed, long range, substantial payload and reasonable cost made it the ideal candidate to protect allied tactical forces against enemy radar defenses.
The EF-111A provided protection by using a jamming orbit where it stands off from threat radars to cover friendly aircraft entering and leaving the threat areas, or by using the aircraft's high-performance capabilities to directly support attacking forces. In the direct support mission, the Raven may fly as in escort position or enter a threat area to the best jammer position. Ravens engaged in direct support often use the extensive night terrain-following capability built into the basic F-111 design.
Since the EF-111 became operational in 1981, they were involved in every conflict America's had, from Eldorado Canyon in Libya to Desert Storm. In Desert Storm an EF-111 was credited with one of the first kills of the conflict as a maneuvering Raven caused a pursuing Iraqi Mirage to crash into the ground.