The first of up to 160 Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft operated by the US Navy has been inducted into a comprehensive upgrade program at NAS Whidbey Island in Washington State.
Similar to the Block III upgrade program being conducted on US Navy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets, the upgrade will enhance the Growler structure and mission systems to extend its life. Included are the installation of plumbing and mounts for upper fuselage conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), and optical fibre cabling to support new sensors and the AN/ALQ-249 next generation jammer, for which Australia is a cooperative development partner.
Also included is a new Tactical Targeting Networking Technology (TTNT) datalink, and a new Distributed Targeting Processor-Networked (DTP-N) computer, the integration of new 10 x 19in large screen cockpit displays, enhancements to the AN/APG-79 AESA radar, and detail improvements to the aircraft’s radar cross section, while the aircraft’s AN/ALQ-218 receiver system will be modified with airborne electronic attack system enhancements.
“We’re excited to have the Growler industry team here working on capabilities that will bring the fleet enhanced electronic surveillance, enhanced data link and the ability to carry the Next Generation Jammer pod,” Commander Electronic Attack Wing, US Pacific Fleet, Capt Chris Bahner said in a release. “We look forward to being a cooperative partner with PMA-265 and PMA-234 at Naval Air Systems Command and the Growler industry team on this exciting work.”
Australia announced it would look to enhance the capabilities of its own Growlers in the 2020 Force Structure Review, and is likely to follow the US Navy’s lead in order to stay in ‘lock step’ with that force.