Weapon Systems

The EA-18G Growler: a multifaceted powerhouse in modern warfare


The Growler's advanced electronic warfare systems can neutralize enemy defenses and protect forces from electronic threats.

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A Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band flies on an EA-18G Growler (forward pod under the right wing of the aircraft). [US Navy]
A Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band flies on an EA-18G Growler (forward pod under the right wing of the aircraft). [US Navy]

The EA-18G Growler, the US Navy's electronic attack aircraft, merges the roles of electronic warfare and combat operations in a testament to advanced military engineering.

When it arrived 15 years ago, the two-seat jet transformed the airborne electronic warfare capability of the United States and its allies. At the time, it was the first newly designed electronic warfare aircraft in more than 35 years, according to the Navy.

It is a variant in the F/A-18 family of aircraft that combines the proven Super Hornet platform with a sophisticated electronic warfare suite.

The Growler's blend of electronic and kinetic warfare makes it a unique force multiplier, capable of executing complex missions that require both electronic disruption and conventional firepower.

The Growler was built to replace the aging EA-6B Prowler and entered service with the US Navy in 2009. It is the most advanced airborne electronic attack platform and the only one in production, according to its manufacturer.

Since it entered service, the EA-18G Growler has spanned the globe in support of all major and rapid reaction action for the Navy. It is expected to serve until at least 2040.

Besides the US Navy, the Australian air force uses the EA-18G.

Dual-role capacity

The Growler's dual-role capacity allows it not only to disrupt and neutralize enemy electronic systems but to engage in traditional combat, making it a key asset in modern military operations.

The aircraft's most significant advantage lies in its advanced electronic warfare systems. Its receiver and jamming pod allow it to locate, record, play back and digitally jam enemy communications over a broad frequency range.

The Growler can also retain formidable weaponry similar to the F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. It has nine hard points available for a mix of fuel tanks, electronic warfare pods and weapons: six under wing and three under fuselage with capacity for more than 8,000kg of external fuel and ordnance.

Its outboard pylons are reserved for AGM-88 HARM missiles, while two conformal fuselage stations can carry AIM-120 advanced medium range air-to-air missiles.

The aircraft's armament ensures that the Growler can deliver the intended kinetic effects of electronic warfare by destroying targets.

The flexible platform of the Growler and its commonality with the F/A-18E/F aircraft give it room for upgrades and growth.

The Navy commenced a full upgrade program in 2021. The multi-year program will include various engineering change proposals across several of the aircraft's systems.

The Navy also plans to provide the plane with a significant leap in electronic warfare capability to improve combat support.

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