The Boeing E/A-18G Growler

The Boeing E/A-18G Growler is the US Navy’s electronic warfare variant of the 2 seat F/A-18F Super Hornet multi-role attack fighter. Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in Washington state is home to the Pacific Electronic Attack Wing operating both the Growler and the older Grumman EA-6B Prowler. When not operating from aircraft carriers the squadrons based there include the Vikings, Zappers, Scorpions, Wizards, Black Ravens, Gray Wolves and Shadow Hawks. A couple of these aircraft from Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) Vikings made an appearance at the Joint Base Lewis McChord Air Expo 2012 in July.

US Navy Boeing E/A-18G Growler JBLM Air Expo 2012
US Navy E/A-18G Growler
US Navy Boeing E/A-18G Growler
US Navy E/A-18G Growler

Despite often seeing Growlers flying about the skies above Seattle, this was the first time I had seen them up close. The most notable difference between the two-seat Super Hornet and Growler are the external AN/ALQ-99 electronic warfare systems pods fitted to weapons pylons and the wing tip missile rails have been replaced with AN/ALQ-218 detection pods on the Growler (they can also continue to carry conventional weapons for self-defence and attack such as the AIM-120 AMRAAM air to air missile and AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missile).

US Navy Boeing E/A-18G Growler Electronic Warfare pod
Growler AN/ALQ-99 electronic warfare systems pod

 

US Navy Boeing E/A-18G Growler Electronic Warfare systems pod
Growler AN/ALQ-99 electronic warfare systems pod (the Prowler uses the same sort of pod)
US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet Tacoma Freedom Fair 2012
US Navy F/A-18F Super Hornet @ Tacoma Freedom Fair 2012 (note the standard wing tips that would normally carry an air to air missile)
US Navy Boeing E/A-18G Growler Joint Base Lewis McChord Washington USA
US Navy E/A-18G Growler with a very noticeable AN/ALQ-218 detection pods fitted to the wingtip

The Royal Australian Air Force has recently purchased a Growler package to be equipped to 12 of their 24 Super Hornets. I look forward to seeing one grace the skies at home some day.

RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet
RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet (“Rhino”)

3 US Navy Growlers and crew from the VAQ-132 Scorpions squadron are currently in Australia at the RAAF Amberley Airbase in Queensland for “Operation Growler 2012” to train RAAF pilots in the use of the electronic warfare systems and the tactics to best use them to suppress enemy air defences; and jam electronic devices and communications. I saw an Australian news story on this training and the US pilot described the Growlers mission as “Deny, degrade and deceive” which I think sums up the capability of the aircraft perfectly!

US Navy Scorpions Growler
US Navy Growlers fly over RAAF Amberley (note the full complement of electronic warfare pods) © Commonwealth of Australia
US Navy E/F-18G Growler Scorpions Australia
US Navy Growlers fly over RAAF Amberley © Commonwealth of Australia
US Navy EF-18G Growler lands at RAAF Amberley
US Navy Growler lands at RAAF Amberley © Commonwealth of Australia
Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s