Close sidebar

US Navy receives 100th Growler – lobbies for more

written by australianaviation.com.au | May 6, 2014
The US Navy and Boeing hard for an additional 22 EA-18Gs to be added to the FY15 budget.  (USN)
The US Navy and Boeing are lobbying hard for an additional 22 EA-18Gs to be added to the FY15 budget. (USN)

The US Navy has taken delivery of its 100th Boeing EA-18G Growler at a ceremony in St Louis.

The aircraft will be based at NAS Whidbey Island near Seattle in Washington State, home of all the US Navy’s Growlers.

The US Navy currently has a program of record for 114 EA-18Gs, production of which is due to start ramping down in 2015. But the US FY15 defence budget contains an ‘unfunded priority’ for an additional 22 aircraft, the merits of which are currently being debated as part of the budget approval process in Congress.

Advertisement
Advertisement

“Given the threat environment we are moving into, the Growler will play a major role in identifying, tracking, targeting and potentially firing upon the enemy,” US Navy F/A-18 and EA-18G program manager, Capt Frank Morley said at the ceremony. “The EA-18G Growler is a high-demand asset that is equally critical in disrupting our enemies operations as it is enhancing our own.”

Added Boeing’s F/A-18 and EA-18G Programs vice president, Mike Gibbons: “Today we celebrated 100 Growler deliveries – all on cost and on schedule – and highlighted the need for additional Growlers in the future so our men and women in uniform can prosecute their missions in the safest, most effective way possible. We believe there is a compelling case to be made that the Navy needs 50 to 100 more aircraft to meet future requirements.”

Boeing and the Navy are both lobbying hard for these additional aircraft, as the Growler and the 75 or so remaining orders for its F-15 line comprise the company’s entire tactical combat aircraft backlog until a next generation of manned or unmanned aircraft can be developed.

Sign up to our digital magazine before 30 June and receive a FREE print edition. Starting at just $99.95 a year, you will get the latest news and insights direct to you, including Australia’s most popular print magazine since 1977. Subscribe now at australianaviation.com.au.

10 Comments

  • Raymond

    says:

    Just 14 remaining Growlers for the USN, 12 for the RAAF, and ~75 F-15’s? That’s a total of only ~100 aircraft orders left in the pipeline for Boeing! That’s not good at all and risks LM becoming the monopoly player!

    I suppose this is the legacy of losing the JSF contest… the F-22 was a joint LM / Boeing product; pity the F-35 program doesn’t comprise both manufacturers as well, considering it is such a huge project with a large number of aircraft involved.

  • Glen

    says:

    I was thinking why doesn’t the US air force convert some of the many F16s they have in storage into EW aircraft like the growler . As the US air force has no EW aircraft like the growler in a war the US air force would have to rely on the navy for all of there EW.

  • Raymond

    says:

    Good question Glen, but there’s probably not a lot of point now, as USAF F-35A IOC is the second half of 2016 and this has a significant amount of built-in EW-type capability. Having another, dedicated, EW platform may not be viable.

  • Paul Douglas

    says:

    Fancy storing them all at just 1 base.. keeping all eggs in 1 basket not always good..

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      Yeah, but centralising logistics, maintenance and skillsets to one base for a specialist capability makes lots of sense. Plus, as many as a third of the jets could be away on deployment or at sea at any one time.

      Cheers

      Andrew

  • John N

    says:

    I’m sure that Boeing will be pushing every lobbyist and friend it has in the US Congress as hard as it can to keep the Growler / Super Hornet line open for as long as possible, especially in the ‘hope’ of future orders.

    It’s not to say that the US may or may not need more Growlers to support the needs of the services, but if those ‘unfunded’ 22 airframes do obtain funding, I wonder what other capability may face the chop or further delay?

    The US defence pie has certainly been shrinking and the slices getting thinner and thinner, something will have to give if the order is to become reality!

    If reports are correct, as Raymond pointed out, the F-35’s have a base EW systems built in as standard, that in the future when the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) pod is fielded (which will eventually replace the pods on the Growlers), the US will be able to bolt a NGJ pod to a ‘standard’ F-35 without any modifications to the aircraft, such as the ‘permanent’ modifications that are made to a standard Super Hornet to make it into a Growler.

    If all of that is true and possible, ultimately that is probably the direction the RAAF may move to. Somewhere in the distant future after the RAAF has learnt the ‘craft’ of operating electronic warfare aircraft and if we also eventually adopt the NGJ pods and the last batch of 28 F-35A’s are in service, I could see a time that the Growlers may not be ‘replaced’ with another type of aircraft, but instead the NGJ pods may be ‘bolted’ on an off the RAAF’s F-35A fleet when and where required, still a long time off, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that is what eventually happens.

    Cheers,

    John N

    • australianaviation.com.au

      says:

      The word from Dave Majumdar who writes for USNI News in the US is, if all 22 are funded the UCLASS program may be deferred or dropped. But news from overnight (May 5) in the US is that Congress may fund just five more EA-18Gs in FY15 which would keep the line ticking over for another year or so.

      Cheers

      Andrew

  • John N

    says:

    Thanks for the update Andrew.

    Yes, the squeeze is certainly on big time for US defence programs, they certainly can’t have their cake and eat it too anymore!

    What always concerns me more is if programs that we are investing in (eg, purchasing or going to purchase that capability), get reduced or delayed, what impact that might have on our defence capabilities, including the unit cost increases that happen when production is cut or deferred.

    It would be disappointing, from a technological development point of view at least, (if the UCLASS program gets deferred or worse, dropped), but it’s a program that has little impact on Australia at this early stage of unmanned combat aircraft systems development.

    Cheers,

    John N

  • Raymond

    says:

    Ugh, I’m confused… these articles are dated 05/05/14 but some of it seems like old news, plus the RAAF’s 12 Growlers are included in the 47.

    Sorry, my previous comment might be of dubious value!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Each day, our subscribers are more informed with the right information.

SIGN UP to the Australian Aviation magazine for high-quality news and features for just $99.95 per year