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Air Platforms

ILA 2018: Boeing pitches Growler to Germany

25 April 2018
Already in service with the United States and Australia, the EA-18G Growler (pictured) offers a dedicated electronic attack capability that would suit a Tornado ECR replacement for Germany. Source: Boeing

Boeing is pitching its EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft to the Luftwaffe as part of a wider drive to replace Germany’s Panavia Tornados with the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.

Speaking to Jane’s at the ILA Airshow in Berlin, Boeing director for global sales for strike, surveillance, and mobility, Bryan Crutchfield, said the EA-18G is the only platform now available that can replace the Electronic Combat Reconnaissance (ECR)-variant Tornados that are due to be retired in about 2030, at the same time as the service’s wider Interdiction Strike (IDS) fleet.

“Any country with an electronic warfare mission in an A2AD [anti-access area denial] environment needs the Growler,” Crutchfield said on 25 April, adding, “We are now actively pitching this solution to the Germans.” As part of this pitch, the company stand at ILA featured a scale model of the aircraft, while the static display featured a pair of USN Growlers.

The Luftwaffe has a requirement to field a replacement for its fleet of 90 Tornado IDS and ECR aircraft from about 2025 to enable a smooth transition into the retirement of the Tornado in about 2030. The German government stated that its preferred choice is to procure additional Eurofighter Typhoons, but the Super Hornet is on the list of preferred alternatives along with Boeing’s F-15 Advanced Eagle and Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).

While each of these platforms could take on the strike role of the Tornado IDS, only the Super Hornet-derived Growler has the dedicated electronic warfare (EW) and suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) roles of the Tornado ECR. While the other aircraft could be adapted to this role through the fitting of externals pods, Crutchfield noted that this would not be enough to put them on par with the Growler’s integrated and bespoke capabilities.

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