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U.S. Navys Newest EW Attack Aircraft EA-18G Growler

Many of you may know my background was in part supporting the EA-6B Prowler which was recently retired after 45 years of service in the U.S. Navy. It was the plane Naval fighter aviators insisted on having as their escort on every strike into enemy territory. Introducing the EA-18 Growler, an even more powerful Electronic Warfare and support aircraft that commands respect everywhere she flies.

For the record, the EA-18G Growler is the U.S. Navy’s newest electronic attack aircraft which replaced the retired EA-6B Prowler in the service’s fleet. Based on the F-18 E/F Hornet airframe, the two-seater, twin-turbofan aircraft integrates the latest electronic attack technology, including the ALQ-218 receiver, ALQ-99 jamming pods, communication countermeasures, and satellite communications.

Along with the electronic attack suite, the Growler also features the APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar.

The aircraft also retains all of the F/A-18E/F’s multi-mission capabilities with its validated design and the capability to perform a wide range of enemy defense suppression missions.

The first Growler test aircraft went into production in October 2004 and made its first flight in August 2006.

The extensive commonality between the F/A-18E/F and the EA-18G Growler, as well as its flexible platform, gives the Growler much-needed room for future upgrades and growth.

The first production aircraft was delivered June 3, 2008, to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129, the Growler Fleet Replacement Squadron, at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash. Initial operational capability and full rate production followed in fall 2009. In 2010, three squadrons, VAQ-132, 141 and 138, transitioned from the Prowler to the Growler and were declared safe-for-flight.

The Scorpions of VAQ-132 deployed to Iraq as an expeditionary squadron from NAS Whidbey Island, in the fall of 2010. The Shadowhawks of VAQ-141 deployed in the spring of 2011 aboard the USS George H. W. Bush.

A great deal of testing on this platform was accomplished at NAS Pax River just before retiring. I saw firsthand what the potential was to be with this platform… and I can tell you this – YOU DO NOT WANT TO BE ON THE WRONG END OF HER SPEAR!


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