EA-18G Program: The USA’s Electronic Growler
July 30/15: Boeing has revealed the first Australian EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, with this the first of twelve Growlers ordered through a Foreign Military Sale contract in June 2014. The Australian government requested a F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler sustainment program in April 2015, estimated to value $1.5 billion. A second Growler is scheduled to complete testing in August, with the pair of aircraft then set for delivery to Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake for RAAF pilot training, before delivery to Australia in 2017.
Boeing was also awarded a $20.5 million delivery order on Thursday for intermediate-level support service for the twelve Australian EA-18G Growlers, as well as for the provision of support equipment for the US Navy’s new squadron of Growlers, set for stand-up in 2017. $15.2 million of the contract total has been allocated for the US Navy and the remaining $5.3 million for the Royal Australian Air Force.
The USA’s electronic attack fighters are a unique, overworked, and nearly obsolete capability. With the retirement of the US Air Force’s long-range EF-111 Raven “Spark ‘Vark,” the aging 4-seat EA-6B Prowlers became the USA’s only remaining fighter for radar jamming, communications jamming and information operations like signals interception . Despite their age and performance limits, they’ve been predictably busy on the front lines, used for everything from escorting strike aircraft against heavily defended targets, to disrupting enemy IED land mine attacks by jamming all radio signals in an area.
All airframes have lifespan limits, however, and the EA-6B is no exception. The USA’s new electronic warfare aircraft will be based on Boeing’s 2-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet multi-role fighter, and has 90% commonality with its counterpart. That will give it decent self-defense capabilities, as well as electronic attack potential. At present, however, the EA-18G is slated to be the only dedicated electronic warfare aircraft in the USA’s future force. Since the USA is currently the only western country with such aircraft, the US Navy’s EA-18G fleet would become the sole source of tactical jamming support for NATO and allied air forces as well.
DID’s FOCUS articles offer in-depth, updated looks at significant military programs of record. This article describes the EA-18G aircraft and its key systems, outlining the program, and keeping track of ongoing developments, contracts, etc. that affect the program.
Growler: The EA-18G Program
EA-18G: The Platform
EA-18: Looking Beyond
EA-18G: Industrial Program
EA-18G: Numbers & Budgets
EA-18G: Contracts & Other Developments
FY 2005 – 2006
FY 2002 – 2004
Appendix A: The EA-18G and the Future Force Mix
Additional Readings and Sources
Background: Core Platform
Background: Ancillary Technologies
News and Views
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