USN EA-18G Evaluation with VX-9 Continues with a New Look

Second production EA-18G "G-2" XE-572 BuNo 166856 sports its new VX-9 Vampire paint scheme 8/24/08
Photo: USN

10/25/2008 - Operational evaluation (OPEVAL) continues on the EA-18G for the USN Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine (VX-9) "Vampires", based at China Lake NAWS in California. The unit recently brought its Growlers aboard USN aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) to see what the aircraft can do at sea.

The pilots evaluated many things on the EA-18G while on the carrier, including how the aircraft and it's electronics hold up to the pounding taken during typical launch and recovery cycles on the ship. Carrier night operations were also flown for the first time with the EA-18G during this deployment.

One Growler included in the exercise was XE #572 BuNo 166856, which was sporting a new special paint scheme for the occasion. #572 is "G-2", the second production EA-18G built. This aircraft was originally numbered 552 when it first arrived from the Boeing plant to China Lake, wearing markings of 'NJ' VAQ-129. Now with VX-9, this Growler has had its vertical stabs painted white and round VX-9 logos applied in a special scheme.

Second production EA-18G "G-2" XE-572 BuNo 166856 flies in formation with VX-9 F/A-18F #241 BuNo 166610 on 8/24/08
Photo: USN

A second EA-18G deployed to the ship was VX-9 #573 BuNo 166857. Identified as "G-3", #573 was the third production ship built by Boeing. Llike #572, this aircraft was also originally delivered in basic gray and 'NJ' VAQ-129 markings.

A third EA-18G may have also deployed to the ship as XE #571, but this has not been confirmed. If an XE #571 does exist, it could possibly be the "G-1" ship (BuNo 166855), which was first delivered from the Boeing factory to USN Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three (VX-23) at Patuxent River NAS, MD earlier in 2008.

Over time, newer Growlers coming out of the factory with slight upgrades will most likely be brought into VX-9 for continued operational evaluation of the type, and some of the older aircraft will be moved to the combat squadrons. Operational evaluation of each aircraft type in the fleet never really ends, as each aircraft model in the inventory receives constant upgrades and additions throughout it's life. The EA-18G is schedule to continue replacing EA-6B Prowlers through 2009.

Source: ŠThe North Spin

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