The first production EA-18G 'G-1' #551 BuNo 166855 is
shot off the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower during Operation
Evaluation by VX-23 8/1/08
11/4/2008 - In a culmination of milestones over the past year
and a half, the EA-18G Growler has moved to Operational Evaluation
The Growler, replacing the EA-6B Prowler, has conducted its
sea trials, tested missiles and surpassed more than 1000 flight
hours in the past several months.
The Growler’s sea trials occurred July 31 through Aug.
5 on the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower. The combined efforts of the
Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23)
carrier suitability team, the F/A-18 and EA-18G program office,
industry partners and crew members of the USS Eisenhower, resulted
in 319 approaches, 62 catapult shots and 62 arrested landings.
Originally, the squadron planned to use one EA-18G for 10 days
to conduct the sea trials, which would have allowed for greater
flexibility in weather and deck conditions. However, due to
operational requirements of the Eisenhower, the squadron was
required to qualify the Growler for the carrier in just five
days, half of the initial allotted time.
To achieve this, the squadron used one Growler and one F/A-18,
configured as a Growler.
“Most of those who saw our plan didn’t think it
was executable because we had to go out to the ship, spend five
days getting over 300 approaches, which was in the original
plan as well as 62 arrested landings and 62 catapult shots.
The team and the Eisenhower really pulled it through for us,”
said Cmdr. Jaime Engdahl, VX-23 EA-18G department head.
Engdahl described the integrated testing conducted throughout
the sea trials as a combination of developmental testers and
operational testers in the cockpit at the same time. The advantage
being that the operational testers were given the ability to
observe the aircraft all the way through the testing.
“In OpEval, the operational testers already have hundreds
of hours of flight testing, they know what the systems are like,
they have input into design changes and potential problems.
The real benefit is the Fleet gets a better product earlier,”
On Aug. 5, the AGM-88 High-Speed Anti-Radiation Missile (HARM)
test was conducted on the Growler at NAWCWD, China Lake. The
air-to-surface tactical missile is designed to seek and destroy
enemy radar-equipped air defense systems. The AGM-88 can detect,
attack and destroy a target with minimum aircrew input. Guidance
is provided through reception of signals emitted from ground-based
“The successful HARM shot is another milestone accomplishment
on the road to the EA-18G joining our carrier air wings. It
demonstrates a key offensive capability of the Growler weapon
system,” said Cmdr. Francis Morley, NAVAIR’s EA-18G
Research, Development, Test and Evaluation Squadron 31 (VX-31)
and Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Nine (VX-9), both based
at Naval Air Weapons Center, China Lake, tested the first AIM-120
Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) from the Growler
“This AMRAAM shot is significant in that one, it is a
key event in the progression and development of the Growler,
and two, it is the first air-to-air missile shot from a Navy
electronic attack aircraft. It represents the significantly
enhanced capability and multi-role ability the Growler will
bring to the Fleet,” said Morley.
The Growler is now at VX-9, where its suitability and effectiveness
as an airborne electronic weapon system is being assessed during
OpEval. The first three aircraft built on the production line,
G1, G2 and G3 are devoted to OpEval.
Following the successful completion of OpEval, the Growler
is scheduled for Full Rate Production and delivery in Initial
Early Delivery to Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129) in
the spring of 2009. VAQ-129 is the Fleet Replacement Squadron
charged with training all EA-18G aviators/aircrew and developing
standard operating procedures for the maintenance and operation
of the aircraft.
Initial Operational Capability is scheduled for the fall of
2009, with a complete transition of 88 Growlers to the fleet
Source: USN Press Release