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Update: Boeing inducts first Growler for upgrades

Boeing has inducted the first US Navy (USN) EA-18G Growler electronic attack (EA) aircraft earmarked for upgrades.

An EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft on the apron at Boeing’s St Louis production facility. The US Navy plans to upgrade all 160 of its aircraft  with further international opportunities likely to follow. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

An EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft on the apron at Boeing’s St Louis production facility. The US Navy plans to upgrade all 160 of its aircraft with further international opportunities likely to follow. (Janes/Gareth Jennings)

Announced by the manufacturer on 19 March, the milestone saw the first Growler enter the modernisation programme at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island in Washington state.

“The modifications are focused on updating the jets’ structural and mission systems architecture, enabling future capability growth for the US Navy’s 160 Growler aircraft,” Boeing said, adding, “The programme schedule forecasts that all US Navy Growlers will be modified in five years. Full rate modification is expected to start in June 2021.”

This work precedes a planned Block 2 upgrade for the Growler. 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 mission systems including the Next-Generation Jammer (NGJ) and EA sensors improvements related to the Electronic Attack Unit (EAU) Surrogate Processor (ESP), AN/ALQ-218(V)4 RF receiver system, and AN/ALQ-227(V)2 communication countermeasures. There will also be networking and crew-interface improvements.

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