Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) flies on an EA-18G Growler, over Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. The NGJ-MB capability, forward pod located under the right wing of the aircraft, is a jamming technology that provides enhanced airborne electronic attack capabilities to the EA-18G Growler platform. (US Navy photo)

EA-18G Growler

Description

The EA-18G Growler is a variant in the F/A-18 family of aircraft that combines the proven F/A-18F Super Hornet platform with a sophisticated electronic warfare suite. Built to replace the EA-6B Prowler, the Growler is the first newly-designed electronic warfare aircraft produced in more than 35 years. 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.

Within the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. Navy is the Growler’s sole operator, although the EA-18G is cooperatively operated with the Royal Australian Air Force. There is significant interest from current and potential International Partners in the EA-18G as well.

Background

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 (NAS) Whidbey Island in Washington. 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.

In the last fifteen years, the EA-18G Growler has spanned the globe in support of all major and rapid reaction action. The Growler’s first baptism of fire came with Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya 2011.

Four U.S. Navy Expeditionary VAQ squadrons uniquely support U.S. Air Force and Navy shore-based operations. All EA-18G squadrons are stationed at NAS Whidbey Island, with the exception of one squadron (VAQ-141) attached to CVW-5, Forward Deployed Naval Force, based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.

Growler Block II is currently in development and will include advances like the Advanced Cockpit System (ACS), and other internal improvements in common with the F/A-18E/F Block III, and enhancements to the Airborne Electronic Attack suite that will enable the EA-18G to outpace current threats and maintain the lead throughout its planned lifecycle.

Specifications

Primary Function: Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA)
Contractor: The Boeing Company
Date Deployed: First flight in October 2004. Initial operational capability (IOC) in September 2009 with first deployment for VAQ-132 in November 2010.
Unit Cost: $67 million
Propulsion: Two F414-GE-400 turbofan engines. 22,000 pounds (9,977 kg) static thrust per engine
Length: 60.2 feet (18.5 meters)
Height: 16 feet (4.87 meters)
Wingspan: 44.9 feet (13.68 meters)
Weight: Weight empty: 33,094 lbs; Recovery weight: 48,000 lbs
Ceiling: 50,000 feet
Range: Combat: 850+ nautical miles with two AIM-120, three ALQ-99 TJS, two AGM-88 HARM, two 480 gallon external fuel tanks
Crew: 2
Armament: Two AIM-120, two AGM-88 HARM, three ALQ-99 TJS