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EA-18G Growler Electronic Warfare Aircraft

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posted on Jan, 18 2007 @ 05:24 PM
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I have just read my usual copy of an 'in-house' defence publication when I can across an article that refers to the above aircraft.

Apparently the Boeing facility at St Louis, Missouri is gearing up for the production of the 'Growler'.

It must be some aircraft to replace the 'Prowler' which, I must admit, I always thought would go on for ever!


On the one hand, I am somewhat surprised at the choice of aircraft but then of course I read on to discover that only the US Navy has, thus far, placed orders with Boeing.

Considering that, as I understand it, aircraft used in the Wild Weasel or SEAD role are supposed to draw enemy fire initially or at the very least, cause the other guy to arm and light up his systems, the EA-18G seems to be a very expensive way to do it. All it would take is one lucky shot and.................................................

Purely from an outsider's stand point, I would have thought the ideal aircraft for this role, could have been found in the A10 Thunderbolt II which admittedly, is a land based aircraft.

Although low tech, slow and some would say cumbersome, it can twist and turn and a quick burst of 30 milly would ruin anybody's day.

Remember, they hunted Scud TELs in Iraq during GW1 and are in my opinion, ideally suited for this role.

But I do look forward to reading your responses to my post and as I am unable to do so, I also look forward to any pics you may post.




posted on Jan, 19 2007 @ 08:23 AM
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The A10 would not be suitable for this task. Why because you need allot of space for the jamming equipment. I even wonder how they turned the F18 into this. It seems not to be the most suitable design.



posted on Jan, 19 2007 @ 10:34 AM
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Tomcat, the A10 has 11 hard points on the fuselage and wings, whereas the Growler has a total of 8 - with an option for another two - if you use the wingtips and do away with the short range AA missiles.

In my view, if the powers that be gave the Thunderbolt this role, at least it would have a new lease of life.

Don't forget that a Thunderbolt is heavily armoured and is built to take punishment and can survive on a single engine and still complete the mission and get back safely.

I just don't think the Growler is up to it.

Sorry, but as a Brit, I just lust after the A10. We have nothing like at and I want one. NOW!



posted on Jan, 19 2007 @ 11:48 AM
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you have to look at it from the navy's point of view. they want something to replace the very old equipment they are using now (prowlers), and they want to do it as cheaply as possible. modifying the already exisiting a6 airframes for use as an ea6b worked wonderfully, so why not try the same concept again? they dont have to invent, test, and produce a whole new airframe....simply modify the current fa18 airframe. i'm not saying it's the most brilliant plan i've ever heard of, but it does make a fair amount of sense in an era where most of the allotted money is going to ground forces for combat operations.



posted on Jan, 19 2007 @ 01:58 PM
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You'd need at least a 2 man crew for a jammer to be effective, as the pilot couldn't concentrate on flying and operating all of the EW gear. The A10 isn't fast enough to keep up with the planes it'd be supporting either.



posted on Jan, 19 2007 @ 03:22 PM
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The fact that only the USN has placed orders for the plane isn't that surprising. What other customers are there? The only other carrier operators that we might sell to would be (IIRC) the UK, France, and possibly India. The UK and India both have a deck-length problem with operating the up-sized F-18, and the French would / will probably opt for a Rafael airframe. The US Air Force has non-tactical ways of dealing with enemy air defenses (B-1s, and B-2s come to mind).

As for "Why use an F-18", I'd bet that the main reason is parts. As big as a carrier is, they don't have any real 'extra' space. The fewer airframe types they have to carry spare parts for, the better they like it. It makes for more room aboard ship, and simplifies flight crew and 'ground' crew training, which in turn, reduces operational costs.

As for "Why not use an A-10", see the spare parts discussion above...and add in the fact that the A-10 isn't navalized. No tail-hook, no interface with the carrier's ILS, non-folding wings (a *major* drawback), and a lack of corrosion resistance (a fatal drawback, given the USN's doctrine of deck-parking) all add up to a really lousy carrier plane, no matter how superb it might be at tactical support.



posted on Jan, 19 2007 @ 10:02 PM
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You need something that can keep up with the strike package, something that can fly off a carrier, something with at least 2 seats, and something that's already available.

It was either the F/A-18, the S-3B or the F-14D and we just retired the latter 2.



posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 12:54 AM
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Fritz with all due respect the A-10 is one of the worst candidates for this role.

Personally I think the EA-18G is the right choice at this time as it will enhance the excellent capabilities already provided by the Prowler. And it will also increase the commonality between the jets operated on a Carrier.

What I'm upset about is how the USAF is handling the issue of having a dedicated EW/Jamming and Wild Weasel aircraft.

The question I ask is why doesn't the USAF just suck it up and buy some EA-18G's instead of wasting money, time, and effort not to mention airframes by venturing in a more risky solution with an 'EA-15E'? Aren't we all suppose to be on the same team here? Who cares if it's a Navy jet. The money they spend on development costs for the possible "EA-15E" could go towards buying the Hornets, now, and in the process they would be lowering the cost of each airframe allowing themselves and the Navy to possibly purchase more.

The EA-18G represents mature technology and a system that is basically ready to go. The USAF knows, but probably can't admit, that without USN escort jammers their AC will be vulnerable in a future war. As was proven in OIF and especially over the Balkans. Where while facing a very smart and highly capable air defense force we were only able to survive as well as we did due to Navy jammers and USAF Wild Weasels (which we'll also be retiring in the coming years). Talk about unnecessary short comings...

The USAF will retire the F-16 as the F-35 comes online and will be left with no EW dedicated aircraft and no "Wild Weasels". The EA-18G is flexible in that it allows you to perform both missions without any modifications. With a plug and play external configuration capability it will be easy to use in SEAD and DEAD missions. Why the USAF is going through all the trouble of possibly modifying several platforms (B-52, F-15E, EC-130) is beyond me. Purchase the Growler! If it's good enough for the Navy then it should be good enough for the AF. If they want to study the possibility of modifying the F-35 for this role, fine, but that's a long term solution, we need this capability now, not later.

EA-18G Growler
Where Next With Electronic Attack?



posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 01:08 AM
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come on westpoint....you know as well as i do that the airforce is never going to go with an airframe currently in use by the blue angels. it's just bad publicity as far as they are concerned....the money be damned.

i know, both the blues and the tbirds used f4s, but that's completely different...the fa18 is a dedicated navy bird showcased by their team, and the airforce will refuse the airframe in any capacity because of that simple fact.....regardless of how well it does the job.



posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 04:24 AM
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Westy, and you too Snafu, you both raise interesting views. I realise that there is much inter service rivalry - which is why I suggested the A10.

The apparent lack of will in certain quarters to ensure commonality between armed forces in the USA does cause some concern. [Yet these same people bemoaned lack of commonality in NATO, for years]

And Westy, the A10 is an ideal platform. 11 hardpoints for EW, ECM, ECCM etc, coupled with a big punch, would ensure the job gets done.

Big, hard and fast does not always guarantee success - I should know, I've been married twice
.



posted on Jan, 20 2007 @ 10:19 AM
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No I don't think it is Fritz, the A-10's electronics are ancient compared to the Hornet, it does not even have a radar. It's EW, ECM and ECCM suits are also not better than those found on the the Super Hornet, neither are it's kinematics. But also, all A-10's are decades old, and they cannot be produced anymore, meaning a fixed number of airframes. As they get older the USAF will need to keep them around for their CAS role (no they will not be retied until at least 2025). Which means they need every airframe they can get for spare parts, replacements etc... Any "Wild Weasel" variant would also need such spare parts, so you end up cutting the regular A-10 fleet at least by half and having a small "Wild Weasel" force which is not viable past 2025.

Then there is the whole bit about upgrading electronics and weapons... Bottom line is the A-10 was designed for the simple role of CAS, it's pointless to try and make it a stand off jammer.

On another note, if the USAF is so hell-bent on not buy a Navy jet (which I really cannot understand as to why) then perusing a possible jammer/Wild Weasel variant of the F-15 is the best choice. It has the electronics, weapons, room for growth, two man crew, kinematics etc... for the job. I just fear this is one of those times where nothing will come of the idea or we'll end up with very few such aircraft.

The USAF seems unsure of itself and what they want/need, they have no clear objectives, time-lines and or projects. It all seems to be study, propose, evaluate but not build. The Navy on the other hand is much more focused and on point with regards to having a dedicated EW/Jammer. We'll see how things play out but when we begin retiring out F-16's and still not have come up with a solution how to replace the (Wild Weasels) then the brown stuff will really hit the fan.



posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 02:08 PM
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The thing with the growler is that well a 2 man crew seems not enough and how the hell are you going to fix enough jamming equipment one 1? Im sure the prowler can carry allot more jamming equipment just like im sure that it will have state of the art jamming equipment till it retires. The EA18's only advantage is its higher speed.



posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 06:24 PM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23



On another note, if the USAF is so hell-bent on not buy a Navy jet (which I really cannot understand as to why) then perusing a possible jammer/Wild Weasel variant of the F-15 is the best choice. It has the electronics, weapons, room for growth, two man crew, kinematics etc... for the job. I just fear this is one of those times where nothing will come of the idea or we'll end up with very few such aircraft.

The USAF seems unsure of itself and what they want/need, they have no clear objectives, time-lines and or projects. It all seems to be study, propose, evaluate but not build. The Navy on the other hand is much more focused and on point with regards to having a dedicated EW/Jammer. We'll see how things play out but when we begin retiring out F-16's and still not have come up with a solution how to replace the (Wild Weasels) then the brown stuff will really hit the fan.


How much work would be involved in adding the pods from the F-16CJ or the EA-18Gs, or adding the HARMs to the weapons load. Most of that stuff is external, so it wouldn't necessarily be as huge an issue as putting a whole bunch of new internal hardware into the F-15s.



posted on Jan, 21 2007 @ 09:02 PM
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The two man crew thing isn't an issue, more in this case in not necessarily better. With upgraded avionics and systems the Growler crew can still perform their mission without decreased effectiveness. And the Growler can carry a wide variety of pods and or missiles depending on the mission (stand off jamming vs. DEAD).




As for the F-15 being modified, it would take the same amount of work it took to modify the Super Hornet, it's do-able but IMO totally pointless. The F-15E does offer you a larger payload, more range (aka loiter time) but it's sensor/avionics suite wont be as advanced as that of the Growler. But my issue is why do all that when you can by the Growler? Unless the USAF is willing to purchase more F-15 from Boeing they will end up with a very small EW/Wild Weasel force and will take airframes away from the existing Strike Eagle fleet.

[edit on 21-1-2007 by WestPoint23]



posted on Jan, 22 2007 @ 03:41 AM
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Originally posted by WestPoint23
The question I ask is why doesn't the USAF just suck it up and buy some EA-18G's instead of wasting money, time, and effort not to mention airframes by venturing in a more risky solution with an 'EA-15E'? Aren't we all suppose to be on the same team here? Who cares if it's a Navy jet. The money they spend on development costs for the possible "EA-15E" could go towards buying the Hornets, now, and in the process they would be lowering the cost of each airframe allowing themselves and the Navy to possibly purchase more.


Probably something to do with the Hornet being a terrible airframe.

As you pointed out to me the other day, the 15E will go much further than an Su-34 ever will. Thus it will go much further, much faster than any Hornet.


What is the use in having deep ranged A2G aircraft if their SEAD protection cannot keep up?



posted on Jan, 22 2007 @ 12:38 PM
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If they were willing to go with new buy F15s, with the v3 AESA, that should be at least as capable if not moreso as the APG79. That's a big if as to whether new airframes are in the cards. Persistence on station would definitely be a plus though.



posted on Jan, 22 2007 @ 02:27 PM
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The F-15 has a bigger radar dome so the AN/APG-63(V)3 (or 4?) might be more powerful (more T/R modules) than the APG-79, it will also have a new T/R layout. However the APG-79 was specifically designed to be multi functional it can operate in several modes at the same time and it probably already has some sort of built in EW capability (the APG-63 will probably have this too however). Overall I think that they will be pretty equal to one another with both having key areas in with they perform better.

AN/APG-79 Radar (PDF)
AESA EW Capability (PDF)
AN/APG-63(v)3 (PDF)
AESA Radar Technology (PDF)



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