WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. (NNS) -- An airborne electronic attack aircraft, EA-18G "Growler," made its first appearance in the Pacific Northwest at Naval Air Station, Whidbey Island (NASWI), April 9.
The Growler combines the capabilities of the F/A-18F Super Hornet with the EA-6B Prowler and will provide next-generation electronic attack capability to the joint war fighter. The arrival marks the first time fleet air crewmen and maintenance men will get to lay their hands on the new platform concept jet.
"This is an exciting day," said Capt. Tom Tack, commander, Electronic Attack Wing, Pacific Fleet. "We're getting a glimpse of the future. This airplane will not only benefit the service members, but the taxpayers because it is easier to maintain."
The Growler can achieve optimum speeds of Mach 1.8 and capable of offensive electronic jamming, electronic emissions detection, classification and monitoring, and electronic suppression of enemy air defenses. Along with being a state of the art weapon system, it also is economic by retaining 90 percent common parts with the Super Hornet, while reducing the operational crew from four to two.
"This plane represents the future of the Electronic Attack community," said Lt. Cmdr. Paul Jennings, officer in charge of the EA-18G fleet introduction team (FIT). "It will provide electronic attack protection for all forces with its improved capabilities and upgraded and advanced airframe."
FIT facilitated the transition from the EA-6B to the E/A-18G by setting up the training and maintenance program and provided feedback to the manufacturer. Aviation Structural Mechanic Senior Chief (AW) Raymond Hamilton of the team said they were proud to of the work done to prepare for the Growler's arrival.
"There is already a supply chain out in place throughout the world," said Hamilton. "It is good to finally see all of our hard work pay off."
The E/A-18G is the Navy's replacement for the EA-6B as it enters it's forth decade of service. Service members of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 are tasked with laying the ground work, facilitation upgrades and providing simulator training.
"People are excited about the arrival of the Growler, because it is new," said Operation's Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Jonathan Fields, NASWI range and schedule department leading petty officer. "Some of the service members may be sad to see the Prowler go, but they are looking forward to see some of the advancements in the Growler."
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