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.
“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.