EA-18G Program: The USA’s Electronic Growler
April 15/15: The Navy’s EA-18G Growlers could use their electronic warfare capabilities to locate insurgents for targeting through the triangulation of intercepted signals, with three aircraft working as a team. However, before this can happen, the aircraft need new, faster data links in order to corroborate intercepts and locate the source of the tracked signals. A USN study recently argued that the Navy needs more of the aircraft to meet future operational demand. A Pentagon Electronic Warfare Committee was also stood up in March, highlighting the continued relevance of these non-stealthy workhorses despite uncertainty over the aircraft’s future production line.
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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