The U.S. Navy officers and distinguished visitors from Missouri and Illinois gathered for a ceremony May 5 in St. Louis, Missouri, to celebrate the production of the 100th EA-18G Growler.
The Growler, the newest advancement in the Navy’s electronic attack (EA) arsenal, is a variant of the Block II F/A-18F Super Hornet and is the Navy replacement for the EA-6B Prowler.
The airborne electronic attack aircraft combines modern advances in Airborne Electronic Attack systems and weapons with the tactical versatility, advancements and capabilities of the Block II Super Hornet.
“The EA-18G Growler is a high demand asset that is equally critical in disrupting our enemies operations as it is enhancing our own,” said Capt. Frank Morley, program manager for the F/A-18 and EA-18G Program Office (PMA-265) during the ceremony at Boeing.
Next week, Capt. Darryl Walker, commander of the Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet (CVWP), will accept delivery of the aircraft on behalf of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 in Whidbey Island, Washington, before its transfer to a designated operational squadron in the fleet.
The Growler is designed to perform an array of airborne electronic attack missions, operating from either the deck of an aircraft carrier or land-based fields, similar to the EA-6B Prowler. Through these capabilities, warfighters may jam or suppress enemy radar and communication systems to protect friendly assets in the air and on the ground.
“NAVAIR (Naval Air Systems Command) is continuing to advance the capabilities of the Growler as the U.S. Navy’s electronic attack mission becomes more robust and potential adversaries up their game with increasingly lethal air defenses,” Morley said.
With new technologies, such as the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ), the Growler will have greater capabilities in the EA arena than its predecessor. Currently, the Growler still uses the Prowler’s ALQ-99 Jammer Pods, slated to be replaced with the NGJ in the early 2020s. The NGJ features active electronically scanned array antennas and a lighter, more aerodynamically shaped pod, which can allow for faster airspeed bringing greater lethality and capability to the EA-18G.
The EA-18G program remains on the same schedule and cost projected when the program began in 2003, and the aircraft is projected to serve beyond 2040. The Navy accepted its first Growler Aug. 3, 2006.
Press Release, May 6, 2014; Image: US Navy