The United States Navy is seeking possibilities to acquire 22 additional Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft and thus keeping the Super Hornet production line open for additional years.
According to international press agency Reuters on 7 March 2014 the US Navy aims to put 22 of the jets on the list of “unfunded” priorities requested by Congress. According to the Reuters source the US Navy hopes to let the 11 Growler squadrons grow from five to seven operational aircraft, at an estimated costs of US$2.14 billion. At the moment there is no money for that plan, nor is it budgeted in financial proposals.
By adding additional electronic warfare aircraft to the existing squadron the Navy tucks itself in for possible attrition losses or future demands. With the current Super Hornet / Growler production line under threat of closing down, it might be a way to either keep the line open and/or to build up margins – in other words: to prevent a lack of assets in the future.
The first operational EA-18G Growler, a derivative of the F/A-18E/F SuperHornet, was delivered to the the US Navy’s Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 at NAS Whidbey Island in Washington state on 4 June 2008. At that time five EA-18Gs were already flying as test aircraft within the Navy. The Growlers are the successor of the EA-6B Prowler, which has been in service since 1971. The EA-18G combat debut was in 2011, enforcing a UN mandated no-fly zone over Libya dubbed Operation Odyssey Dawn.
© 2014 AIRheads’ editor Marcel Burger