On 15 November 2001, Boeing successfully completed an initial flight demonstration of F/A-18F "F-1" fitted with the ALQ-99 electronic warfare system to serve as the EA-18 Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) concept aircraft. In December 2003,
Role Electronic warfare aircraft
National origin United States
First flight 15 August 2006
Introduction 22 September 2009
Status In service
Primary users United States Navy / Royal Australian Air Force
Number built 150 as of December 2017
Developed from Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet
The McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet is a twin-engine, supersonic, all-weather, carrier-capable, multirole combat jet, designed as both a fighter and attack aircraft (hence the F/A designation). Designed by McDonnell Douglas (now part of Boeing) and Northrop (now part of Northrop Grumman), the F/A-18 was derived from the latter’s YF-17 in the 1970s for use by the United States Navy and Marine Corps. The Hornet is also used by the air forces of several other nations, and formerly, by the U.S. Navy’s Flight Demonstration Squadron, the Blue Angels.
The Growler’s flight performance is similar to that of the F/A-18E/F. This attribute enables the Growler to perform escort jamming as well as the traditional standoff jamming mission (Radar jamming and deception). Growlers are able to accompany F/A-18s during all phases of an attack mission. In order to give the Growler more stable flight for the electronic warfare mission, Boeing changed the leading edge fairings and wing fold hinge fairings, and added wing fences and aileron “tripper strips”
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The first Growler for fleet use was officially accepted by VAQ-129 “Vikings” at NAS Whidbey Island, on 3 June 2008. The Navy planned to buy approximately 85 aircraft to equip 11 squadrons as of 2008. The EA-18G completed operational evaluation in late July 2009. The Growler was rated operationally effective and suitable for operational use. On 5 August 2009, EA-18G Growlers from Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) and Electronic Attack Squadron 132 (VAQ-132) completed their first at-sea carrier-arrested landing aboard the USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75)
On 27 February 2009, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon announced that 12 of the 24 Super Hornets on order would be wired on the production line for future fit-out as EA-18Gs. The additional wiring would cost A$35 million. On 23 August 2012, the Australian Government announced that 12 RAAF Super Hornets would be fitted with Growler capability at a cost of $1.5 billion, making the Royal Australian Air Force the only military other than the U.S. to operate the Growler's electronic jamming equipment.
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