Is the F-35 the Navy’s second-most important aircraft, surpassing the E-15?.pink

The EA-18G Growler might look like just another fighter jet, closely resembling the F/A-18 Super Hornet, but this aircraft plays a vital role in modern aerial warfare. Here’s why the Growler is extraordinary:

Design and Identity

At first glance, the Boeing EA-18G Growler appears nearly identical to the F/A-18 Super Hornet. Both jets share a similar fuselage, canopy, and flight surfaces, but the Growler is uniquely specialized. Sharing 90% commonality with the Super Hornet, the Growler is designed specifically for electronic warfare (EW), which is evident in its modified design. These modifications, including tweaks to the leading-edge flaps and wing flaps, enhance the Growler’s agility for its EW missions.

Development and Capabilities

The development of the EA-18G Growler began post-9/11, with its first deployment in 2009. The aircraft evolved from the Super Hornet with the integration of the ALQ-99 electronic warfare system. This system, designed by EDO Corporation, is central to the Growler’s mission. The ALQ-99 includes receiver equipment and antennas that provide real-time jamming of enemy radar signals, enhancing the Growler’s ability to deceive and disrupt enemy radar and communication systems.

Advanced Electronic Warfare System

The ALQ-99 system is versatile and powerful, capable of producing 6.8 kilowatts of power using its own ram air turbine. It can intercept, process, and jam radar and radio signals, making the Growler an essential asset for gathering signals intelligence (SIGINT). Recent upgrades have enhanced the Growler with Raytheon’s Forward-Looking Infrared (FLIR) cameras, which use infrared radiation to detect and target threats.

Operational History

The Growler entered its current deployment in 2011, participating in enforcing a UN no-fly zone over Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn. Despite not having as extensive a combat history as the F/A-18, the Growler’s role in electronic warfare remains crucial. The U.S. Navy currently operates 172 Growlers, reflecting the importance placed on electronic warfare in modern military strategy.

Conclusion

The EA-18G Growler is more than just a derivative of the Super Hornet. It’s a sophisticated, specialized aircraft designed to dominate the electronic warfare domain. By disrupting enemy radar and communications, the Growler ensures that U.S. and allied forces maintain a strategic advantage in modern combat environments.

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