Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are ordering 15 Lot 38 full-rate production EA-18G aircraft and airborne electronic attack kits from the Boeing Defense, Space & Security segment in St. Louis.
The Boeing EA-18G Growler is a specialized version of the two-seat carrier-based = F/A-18F Super Hornet jet fighter bomber that is adapted for electronic warfare (EW) -- specifically jamming enemy radar and communications, as well as attacking enemy radar installations with missiles that home-in on radar signals.
The Grower, which is replacing the Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowler carrier-based EW aircraft, began production in 2007 and entered operational service in late 2009 with the U.S. Navy. The EA-18G aircraft are based at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station in Oak Harbor, Wash.
The growler is designed for suppression of enemy air defenses; stand-off and escort jamming; non-traditional electronic attack by integrating with ground EW operations; self-protect and time-critical strike support; and cost-effective technology insertion and system upgrades.
The Growler's flight performance is similar to that of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, which enables the Growler to perform escort RF jamming as well as traditional standoff radar jamming and deception. The aircraft has more than 90 percent in common with the standard Super Hornet, sharing airframe, Raytheon AN/APG-79 AESA radar, and weapons like the AN/AYK-22 stores management system.
Most of the Growler's EW attack equipment is mounted on the aircraft's wing tips and in the space where on the Super Hornet houses a 20-millimeter cannon. The Growler has nine weapons stations for weapons and jamming pods.
The Growler's EW gear includes AN/ALQ-218 wideband receivers on the wingtips, and ALQ-99 high- and low-band tactical jamming pods. The ALQ-218 and ALQ-99 form an EW suite that provides detection and jamming against all known surface-to-air missiles. The aircraft is being readied for future threats with the Raytheon Next-Generation Jammer (NGJ).
The Growler can carry as many as five ALQ-99 jamming pods and two AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles or AGM-88 HARM anti-radar missiles. It uses an interference cancellation system that allows radio voice communication during jamming.
The Growler has a crew of two, is 60 feet long with a 45-foot wingspan, and 16 feet high. The twin-engine jet can fly as fast as Mach 1.8, higher than 50,000 feet, and can fly 1,275 miles between refuelings.
Boeing is the overall systems integrator for the EA-18G Growler combat jet. The plane's electronic warfare equipment comes primarily from Northrop Grumman Corp. Its future Next-Generation Jammer equipment will come from Raytheon Co., and the jet's onboard mission computers come from the General Dynamics Corp. Advanced Information Systems segment in Minneapolis.
On this order Boeing and its subcontractors will do the work in El Segundo, Calif.; St. Louis; Bethpage, N.Y.; Cleveland; Bloomington, Minn.; Mesa, Ariz.; Torrance, Calif.; Vandalia, Ohio; Irvine, Calif.; Santa Clarita, Calif.; South Korea; and other locations in the continental U.S., and should be finished by January 2018.