This week’s edition of Burner Friday is brought to you courtesy of the United States Navy’s Electronic Attack squadrons from NAS Whidbey Island, Washington. VAQ-132, otherwise known as the “Scorpions”, borrowed a VAQ-139 “Cougars” jet for the trek up to Alaska for Red Flag in August 2013. Both squadrons in recent years have transitioned into the Boeing EA-18G Growler, leaving behind the Grumman EA-6B platform that’s been the mainstay of carrier-based electronic attack since the 1970s.
Having taken up the reins of the Navy’s electronic attack and the suppression of enemy air defenses capabilities, Boeing’s EA-18G is a derivative of their proven strike fighter counterpart, the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet. The Growler first flew in late 2006, and the jet first reached operational status just three years later with the Scorpions of VAQ-132 in late 2009. In 2011, the Scorpions once again made Growler history as they became the first to employ the jet in combat operations over Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn.
The EA-18G still maintains many of the features of its fighter counterpart, notably the Raytheon advanced electronically scanned array (AESA) radar system which grants the Growler self-defense capability. Electronics have taken the place of the 20mm cannon found in the nose of the Super Hornet, but the Growler maintains 9 external stations for weapons stores. The majority of these are usually taken up by the ALQ-99 jamming pods and HARMs, but AIM-120s and AIM-9Xs are still an option.
When they’re not busy messing around in the electromagnetic spectrum, the Growler’s crews still make time for some BFM, as this vid shows a pair of Growlers mixing it up with the ‘River Rattlers’ of VFA-204.
(Featured Photo Courtesy Jonathan Derden)