Electronic Weapons: Growler Reports For Duty

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June 12,2008: The U.S. Navy has received its first operational (as opposed to developmental) EA-18G ("Growler") electronic warfare aircraft. The current electronic warfare aircraft, the 27 ton EA-6Bs, are not expected to last much beyond 2015 (they entered service in 1971). They are being replaced by the 29 ton EA-18G. The older EA-6B carries a crew of four, while the highly automated EA-18G will have only two people on board. The F-18E cots $94 million each, but the more elaborately equipped the EA-18G goes for $105 million. The EA-18G carries up to five electronic warfare pods, plus two AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and two anti-radiation (HARM) missiles. It may be the last manned aircraft to handle the EW job. UAVs are becoming more capable, and will eventually take over this dangerous task.

The navy will receive 52 EA-18Gs over the next four years, and another 30 after that (at the rate of about five a year). The U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps are planning on developing an electronic warfare version of the new F-35, or using a UAV.

 


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