The Navy’s EA-18G aircraft, also known as the “Growler,” is set to receive significant technical updates onto its airborne electronic attack (AEA) system. The Growler’s AEA system will see major improvements in radar jamming, locating and destroying targets, along with defense suppression capabilities. These updates will cost approximately $91 million and the installation will be overseen by the aerospace company Northrop Grumman.
One of the Navy’s most reliable and resourceful brands of fighter jets, the Growler has been carrying out combat missions since 2011. The company’s updates on the Growler’s AEA system and countermeasure technology are currently in production, and the Navy says the aircraft will be able to continue its role in being among the first deployed to high-threat zones upon completion.
The Growler’s electronic signal jamming and abilities reduces threats of hostile ground-to-air defenses, which is why the Growler is typically among the first brand of aircraft to be deployed in hostile territory. Its jamming capabilities provide ample cover for airstrikes and other fighter jets when they approach enemy airspace. The Growler uses multi-mode radar detection, suppression, and countermeasure accessories that are equipped on different parts throughout the aircraft. The fighter jet’s wings and tail contain An/ALQ-99 radar jamming pods, while the gun bay has an AN/ALQ-218(V)2 receiver and communications countermeasure system installed.
The Growler also possesses the unique ability to defend itself from threats, along with locating and eliminating selective targets. This is done using advanced electronically scanned array radar and air-to-air missiles. The aircraft’s last update was in 2015 when the system was modified to conduct electronic surveillance over a broader area, along with becoming able to share electronic intelligence and reconnaissance data with other platforms more efficiently.
Growler’s electronic attack focus on its upgrades makes the fighter jet a key implementer of electronic warfare for the military, since modern combat now involves disrupting enemy electronic systems like radar. The Growler is one of the military’s few aircraft that operates as joint service platforms for conducting electronic warfare.
The software and hardware AEA requirement upgrades are expected to be applied some time in 2019.