Air International 2013-04
VAQ-132’s CAG-bird Growler BuNo 166894/’NL540' refuels from a US Air Force KC-135R Stratotanker. The squadron’s EA-18Gs undertook multiple air-refuellings and received up to 50,000 lbs of fuel during some of the missions flown over Libya while operating from Aviano AB in northern Italy.
EA-6B Prowlers currently form part of all but two of the ten carrier battle groups and have been forward-deployed to support all air operations during the past two decades.
An EA-6B Prowler of Electronic Attack Squadron 209 (VAQ-209) ‘Star Warriors’ taxiing at Souda.
The four-seat EA-6B Prowler uses the ALQ-99 tactical jamming system comprising primary receiving antennas housed in a pod at the top of the tail and jamming antennas in under-wing pods.
On final approach to NAS Patuxent River, Salty Dog 120, F/A-18F Super Hornet F35 BuNo 165875 is loaded with three ALQ-99 jammer pods, two under wing fuel tanks and two AGM-88 HARM missiles.
Each wing-tip station of the EA-18G is fitted with a pod housing the digital receivers of the AN/ALQ-218 system. This example is a dummy version fitted to an F/A-18F Super Hornet configured as an EA-18G, used by VX-23 for the aeromechanical phase of the Growler’s SDD.
In July 2004 Naval Air Systems Command dedicated three Super Hornet aircraft to the Growler developmental test programme. All three were modified to represent EA-18G-model aircraft fitted with wing-tip pods and other sub-systems with the same weight, centre of gravity and aerodynamic characteristics.
Salty Dog 121, F/A-18F Super Hornet BuNo 166449 assigned to VX-23, shown loaded with an AGM-88E AARGM missile (coloured white) during a test flight from NAS Patuxent River, Maryland during the missile's IOT&E.
Salty Dog 120 taxies into the hot-pit refuelling area at Pax River on October 30, 2006, following a test flight to expand the Growler’s performance envelope.
The final 12 Super Hornets built for Australia were wired for future conversion to Growler configuration.
The Growler’s two General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofan engines generate a combined 44,000 lbs of thrust with afterburner.
As part of the squadron’s work-up for deployment to Iraq in November 2010, VAQ-132 participated in exercise Red Flag 10-4 at Nellis AFB, Nevada.
EA-18G Growler BuNo 166642/'DD500' of Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 31 'Dust Devils', carried an AGM-88E AARGM missile for the first captive-carry flight test on May 25, 2011.
The first system design and development EA-18G Growler aircraft, EA1, arrived at NAS Patuxent River, Maryland on September 22, 2006, a month prior to its scheduled delivery date.
The Next Gen Jammer pod should commence flight operations on the EA-18G Growler in 2015.
The EA-18G Growler needs to overcome threat systems with highly lethal SAMs, and prove highly adaptive in combat conditions.
A VAQ-141 Growler launches from the USS George Bush during a pre-deployment work-up exercise.
VAQ-141 was deemed ‘safe for flight’ with the EA-18G Growler on February 12, 2010 and made the first carrier deployment with the type in 2011. The squadron flew the first carrier-based EA-18G missions into Iraq as part of Operation New Dawn and the very first EA-18G missions into Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom during its 2011 maiden cruise.
A ground crew member from VAQ-132 signals to an EA-18G Growler as it returns from a flight during heavy snow at NAF Misawa, Japan in January 2013.
To mark the Centenary of Naval Aviation in 2011, VAQ-129 painted EA-18G BuNo 166899/'55’ in a similar colour scheme to that worn by an F4-U Corsair operated by VBF-85 ‘Sky Pirates' aboard USS Shangri-La in 1944.
VAQ-135’s current CAG-bird features tail markings similar to those carried by the unit’s EKA-3B Skywarriors in the early 1970s.
Sailors utilise a block to discharge the static build-up on a Growler’s canopy at NAF Misawa, Japan.
The first SDD EA-18G Growler aircraft, EA1, spent five months in the anechoic chamber at NAS Patuxent River to assess on-board radar, receiver and jammer compatibility and performance as part of the mission systems test programme.
The ALQ-99 jamming pod’s low-band antennas are housed in a profiled radome while those for the high-band antennas are straight (see image). The Growler will operate with two types of Next Gen Jammer pod, one for high and one for low-band jamming.
The Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center based at NAS Fallon, Nevada has its own EA-18G aircraft assigned for instruction of the Growler Tactics Instructor course.
An early production series Growler aboard the USS Dwight D Eisenhower during carrier suitability tests.
An EA-18G assigned to VAQ-141 prepares to take off from USS George Bush while underway in the Atlantic Ocean.
The straight profile radome of the ALQ-99's high-band antennas.
Unlike the nose-mounted ram air turbine or RAT fitted to the current ALQ-99 jamming pod, the navy’s next gen jammer will feature an internally-mounted RAT housed in the pod’s mid-section.
VAQ-132 Growlers deployed to NAWS China Lake in March 2010 to utilise the threat emitters located on the extensive electronic range.
VAQ-132 EA-18G BuNo 166894/’NL540’ lands at Aviano AB, Italy following a mission to Libya during Operation Unified Protector. The aircraft is loaded with two AGM-88 HARM missiles, two AIM-120 AMRAAM air-to-air missiles and two ALQ-99 jamming pods.
VAQ-141 EA-18G BuNo 166930/’AJ502’ seconds from catching a wire onboard USS George Bush. The Growler’s maximum landing weight is 48,000 lb.
VAQ-135 'Black Ravens' participated in exercise Red Flag 13-3 at Nellis AFB in early March 2013. Red Flag 13-3 was the first large force exercise undertaken by VAQ-135 since it returned from deployment to Bagram AB, Afghanistan.
A pair of VAQ-132 EA-18Gs line up for take-off from NAS Whidbey Island on a routine training flight over the Okanagan Mountains in eastern Washington state.
The Growler’s nose wheel steering enables the aircraft to be easily manoeuvred around a carrier flight deck.
'Salty Dog 521' VX-23's permanently assigned EA-18G Growler test aircraft.
EA-18G Growlers assigned to the Black Ravens over Alaska en route to Eielson AFB for exercise Red Flag Alaska.
VAQ-132's CAG-bird Growler BuNo 166894/'NL540' received desert tail markings, side numbers and insignia for the squadron’s 2010-2011 deployment to Iraq and Italy.
Raytheon’s AN/APG-79 AESA radar is fitted on the EA-18G Growler.
VAQ-141 's CAG-bird EA-18G BuNo 166928/’AJ500’ on the flight deck of the USS George Bush underway in the Mediterranean Sea on its maiden cruise.
With 40 Growler aircraft assigned, VAQ-129 uses multiple flight lines at NAS Whidbey Island.
Note the straight radome of this high-band ALQ-99 tactical jamming pod.
A plane director marshalls a VAQ-141 Growler from parking.
Since VAQ-141 was established as an EA-6B Prowler squadron in 1989, the unit has participated in every major combat operation since Desert Storm.
EA-18G Growlers assigned to the Black Ravens over Alaska en route to Eielson AFB for exercise Red Flag Alaska.
VAQ-129 ‘Vikings’ is the EA-18G Growler Fleet Replacement Squadron based at NAS Whidbey Island.
Some local training flights flown by the EA-18Gs from NAS Whidbey Island do not require ALQ-99 jamming pods to be carried.
ALQ-99 pods are fitted with a nose-mounted ram air turbine to provide power at cruising airspeed.
A computer-generated image of a Royal Australian Air Force Growler in the markings of No.6 Squadron, currently a Super Hornet unit based at RAAF Base Amberley.
Major electronic attack systems of the EA-18G Growler shown in orange.
Fourteen EC-130H Compass Call are the only electronic attack aircraft currently in service with the US Air Force.
Salty Dog 101, F/A-18E Super Hornet E22 BuNo 165779 undergoing hot-pit refuelling at NAS Patuxent River. The aircraft was conducting flutter flight-test missions at the time this image was taken.
Pictured on the ramp at the end of Pax River’s runway 32, prior to a flutter flight-test mission, is Salty Dog 101.
The AGM-88 HARM missile is one of two kinetic weapons currently carried by the EA-18G Growler (the other is the AIM-120 AMRAAM). This shot shows a HARM missile (coloured white) carried on the port side outer wing pylon of an F/A-18C Hornet assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 23 (VX-23) ‘Salty Dogs’ based at NAS Patuxent River.
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