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USN issues RFI for Growler Block 2 upgrade

29 May 2019
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An EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft on the apron at Boeing's St Louis production facility. The US Navy plans to upgrade all 161 of its aircraft to the Block 2 standard, with further international opportunities likely to follow. Source: IHS Markit/Gareth Jennings

The US Navy (USN) has formally launched the Block 2 upgrade for the Boeing EA-18G electronic attack (EA) aircraft, with a request for information (RFI) issued in late May.

In a solicitation posted on the Federal Business Opportunities (FedBizOpps) website, the Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) announced its intention to procure non-recurring engineering in support of EA-18G Growler Block 2, including Electronic Attack Unit (EAU) Surrogate Processor (ESP), AN/ALQ-218(V)4 RF receiver system, and AN/ALQ-227(V)2 communication countermeasures set requirements for the USN.

The anticipated start date for the effort to retrofit all 161 of the USN's Growlers to the Block 2 configuration is 7 June 2020, with the upgrade itself being launched in fiscal year 2022 and aircraft being received from 2025. While not included in this initial solicitation, the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) fields 11 Growlers that are also likely to be upgraded (the service received 12 but one was lost to an accident in a ground accident in early 2018 and has yet to be replaced). Further to current customers, Boeing is also offering the aircraft to Finland and Germany.

Previously known as the Advanced Growler, the Growler Block 2 enhancement is based on the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet Block 3 upgrade that is now in its early stages. Features common to both aircraft comprise 10×19 inch large-area display (LAD) cockpits (front and back) and conformal fuel tanks (CFTs), while the Growler will also receive enhancements to the systems listed in the RFI; the Next-Generation Jammer; EA sensor improvements; as well as networking and crew-interface improvements.

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