Boeing EA-18G Growler

TypeElectronic warfare
Country of originUnited States
ManufacturerBoeing
First flight15 August 2006
Introduced22 September 2009
Producedsince 2007 - still in production
Numbers built96
Unit costsUS$67 million (flyaway cost, FY2011)
Max speedMach 1.8 (1,190 mph, 1,900 km/h) at 40,000 ft (12,190 m)
Max rangeRange: 1,275 nmi (2,346 km) clean plus two AIM-9s
Combat radius: 390 nmi (449 mi, 722 km) for interdiction mission
Ferry range: 1,800 nmi (2,070 mi, 3,330 km) (range without ordnance)
Service ceiling: >50,000 ft (15,000 m)
DimensionsLength: 60 ft 1.25 in (18.31 m)
Wingspan: 44 ft 8.5 in (13.62 m) (including wingtip-mounted pods)
Height: 16 ft (4.88 m)
Wing area: 500 ft² (46.5 m²)
WeightEmpty weight: 33,094 lb (15,011 kg)
Loaded weight: 48,000 lb (21,772 kg) (recovery weight)
Max takeoff weight: 66,000 lb (29,964 kg)
Powerplant2 × General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofans
Dry thrust: 14,000 lbf (62.3 kN) each
Thrust with afterburner: 22,000 lbf (97.9 kN) each
ArmamentGuns: None

Hardpoints: 9 total: 6x under-wing, and 3x under-fuselage with a capacity of 17,750 lb (8,050 kg) external fuel and ordnance

Notes: The two wingtips missile launcher rail for AIM-9 Sidewinder, found on the E/F Super Hornet, have been replaced with AN/ALQ-218 detection pods, 6 removable under wing mounted hard points (inboard pylons will carry 480 gal fuel tanks, mid-board pylons will carry AN/ALQ-99 High Band Jamming Pods, and outboard pylon reserved for AGM-88 HARM missiles), 2 multi-mode conformal fuselage stations (AIM-120 AMRAAM), 1 centerline fuselage removable hardpoint, for AN/ALQ-99 Low Band Jamming Pod.

Weapons employment: Currently, Phase I of the Growler will carry the AIM-120 AMRAAM for self-protection at the two conformal fuselage stations and AGM-88 HARM missiles. The 20 mm M61A1 cannon has been removed and replaced by a pod of electronic boxes that control the AN/ALQ-218 and assist with the coordination AN/ALQ-99 jamming attacks.

According to the possible weapon configurations which were revealed, EA-18G would also be capable of performing "time-sensitive" strike missions, carrying AGM-154 JSOW under wings, or multi-sensor reconnaissance missions with SHARP and AN/ASQ-228 ATFLIR on centerline and left conformal weapon stations, respectively.
OperatorsUnited States
Possibly the aircraft will be in service with Australia in the future.

The Boeing EA-18G Growler is a customized variant of the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet and a carrier-based electronic warfare aircraft. The EA-18G is developed to take the role of aging Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowlers to serve the United States Navy. The Growler’s electronic warfare power is predominantly supplied by Northrop Grumman. The EA-18G began to enter into production in 2007 and it came into operational service in late 2009.

The Development of EA-18G

In December 2003, the US Navy granted a production contract for the EA-18G to Boeing as the manufacturer had fruitfully accomplished a first flight demonstration of F/A-18F “F-1” equipped with the ALQ-99 electronic-warfare system to perform as the EA-18 Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) concept aircraft. In 2003, the Navy was likely to acquire 90 EA-18Gs.

The first EA-18G test aircraft entered production in 22 October 2004. The first test aircraft, called EA-1, was rolled out on 3 August 2006, prior to having its first flight at St. Louis on 15 August 2006; it was later transferred to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland on 22 September 2006. EA-1 principally sustains ground testing in the Air Combat Environment Test and Evaluation Facility (ACETEF) anechoic chamber.

The second aircraft’s (EA-2) maiden flight was on 10 November 2006, and was transferred to NAS Patuxent River on 29 November 2006. EA-2 is an AEA flight test aircraft, at first flying on Pax River’s Atlantic Test Range (ATR) for developmental test of the AEA system ahead of shifting to the Electronic Combat Range (ECR, or Echo Range) in Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. Both aircraft are designated to VX-23 “Salty Dogs”. EA-1 and EA-2 were F/A-18Fs F-134 and F-135, taken from the St. Louis production line and customized by Boeing to the EA-18G configuration. Nevertheless, the Navy has designated the two test aircraft as NEA-18Gs.

The Design of EA-18G

The Growler’s flight performance resembles the performance of F/A-18E/F. The Growler is capable to carry out escort jamming in addition to the conventional standoff jamming mission. Growlers will have the ability to go along with F/A-18s in the course of all levels of an attack mission. As a way to provide the Growler more steady flight for the electronic warfare mission, Boeing modified the leading edge fairings and wing fold hinge fairings, and incorporated wing fences and aileron tripper strips.

The Growler features more than 90% similarity to the regular Super Hornet. Nearly all of the specific airborne electronic attack equipment is fitted in the space that accustomed to accommodate the internal 20 mm cannon and on the wingtips. Nine weapons stations stay free to give for extra weapons or jamming pods. The additional electronics include AN/ALQ-218 wideband receivers on the wingtips, and ALQ-99 high and low-band tactical jamming pods. The ALQ-218 is put together with the ALQ-99 form a full spectrum electronic warfare suite that is able to provide detection and jamming against all known surface-to-air threats.

The EA-18G is equipped with as much as five ALQ-99 jamming pods and will generally include two AIM-120 AMRAAM or AGM-88 HARM missiles. The EA-18G will even make use of the INCANS Interference Cancellation system that will enable voice communication when jamming enemy communications which the EA-6B does not have this ability. Besides the radar warning and jamming equipment, the Growler features a communications receiver and jamming system that will give suppression and electronic attack to airborne communication menace.

Unfortunately, the awful credibility of the ALQ-99 and repeated setbacks of the built-in self-test (BIT) have prompted crew to fly missions with serious errors. The ALQ-99 has also caused problems with the aircraft’s AESA radar, and has made a high workload on the two man crew, in addition to lowering the Growler’s top speed.

Boeing is considering other potential upgrades; the ALQ-99 radar jamming pod can be swapped out later on, and the company is thinking about incorporating weapons and swapping the satellite communications receiver. The Growler is the preliminary base for the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) which employs Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) technology to target jamming power precisely where expected. The NGJ will likewise be carried out by the F-35. Boeing is furthermore considering exporting a Growler Lite configuration without having the jamming pods for electronic consciousness instead of electronic attack.

The EA-18G Growler videos

U.S. Navy EA-18G Growlers Fly In Support of Operation Odyssey Dawn

 

EA-18G Growlers Recovery – NAF El Centro

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