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
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.