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Navy Growler Study Complete, Awaiting Pentagon Review

An E/A-18G Growler is directed to the catapult on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). US Navy Photo

An E/A-18G Growler is directed to the catapult on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). US Navy Photo

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A study that would determine if the Navy should acquire more Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft for a wider joint high-end war fighting requirements has been completed, Navy officials told USNI News on Wednesday.

The Growler study, now being reviewed as part of a larger electronic warfare evaluation led by Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work, was led by the Navy with input from the other services.

“The study that we have going on right now is to determine — through a rigors analytical process — whether we have enough Growlers for the high-end joint war fight,” Rear Adm. Michael Manazir is director of air warfare on the staff of the chief of naval operations said following a Navy and Marine Corps aviation forum sponsored by the Navy League.
“We have enough Growlers to support Navy missions now with a 153 and what this study looks at is whether we should buy more for the joint fight.”

Now the study is percolating through the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and will move through the Joint Requirements Oversight Council (JROC) and will be used to inform the Fiscal Year 2017 budget due out next year, Manazir said.

Manazir’s comments come a day after the head of the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command Gen. Herbert J. “Hawk” Carlisle said the Pentagon should focus on emerging electronic warfare capabilities in the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) and the Air Force’s planned Long Range Strike Bomber (LSRB) rather than legacy airframes like the Growler.

“With a limited [budgetary total obligation authority], you’ve got to think hard about buying brand-new legacy airplanes versus next generation [ones] as we go forward,” he said on Tuesday reported Air Force Magazine.

Manazir responded to Carlisle’s comments saying the Growler would be able to cooperate with the emerging platforms.

“So the Growler is complimentary it’s power — with the Next Generation Jammer — is complimentary with all of the platforms you put into the air,” he said.
“Whether there is a [radio frequency] spectrum advantage in one area or another the Growler is going to be complimentary across the electromagnetic spectrum.”

The Growler is set to be an important node in the Navy’s emerging Naval Integrated Fire Control Counter Air (NIFC-CA) construct that will network together the aircraft and ships of the service’s carrier strike group.

  • Curtis Conway

    Once again, General Carlisle is being parochial instead of tactical, trying to look fiscally responsible. The F-35 will be a fantastic EW platform in . . . maybe a decade or two, but NOT TODAY! We must live in the real world, and the “Bird in the Hand’ is the EA-18G Growler. If anything happens in the near term it should be:

    * Accelerate development testing and fielding of Next Generation Jammer (NGJ)

    * Bolster numbers of EA-18G Growler platforms

    * Inclusion of EA-18G in Joint Exercises and local training of all fighter squadrons (particularly USAF F-35 and other) should be emphasized.

    * Emphasize EW training at all levels of the force, and increase understanding of the level of service that can be provided to all combatants by the [pre-NGJ] EA-18G platform.

    * Specific and advised creation of a new Unified Combat Commander on the order of STRATCOM, TRANSCOM, SOCOM (Electronic Warfare Commander?) should be strongly supported.

    Just my 2₵

    • Donald Bakon’s Army

      “* Accelerate development testing and fielding of Next Generation Jammer (NGJ)”

      To call for something like this, you would first need to know about the current state of development and whether it can indeed be accelerated. Its easy to sit on a comfy chair, in front of a computer and pass absolutely baseless opinion. People like this are why we end up with the Just So Failed.

      • Ctrot

        People who use terms like “Just So Failed” aren’t to be looked to for honest commentary.

        • Curtis Conway

          I bet he does not keep up with his professional reading. The NGJ is not a new program that just got added to the budget last year. Anyone who is in the know (Old Crows) have been looking for this capability for decades, and some engineering has taken place with this regard, some under the aegis of Next Generation Jammer. We should accelerate the effort and move the ALQ-99s to some of our Pacific Allies.

          • Donald Bakon’s Army

            Knowing and wanting something for years does not mean anything. How many engineers are working on the Jammer? How many more can be added? What does the cost equation look like if you shave off 2 years from development? What are the performance risks of doing that? What will be the procurement cost of doing that? What impact will this increased cost have on the ultimate number bought? What corners will be cut to get an accelerated program and what cost will we pay for that in the future?

            Finally do we even need the Next Gen. Jammer? Why is it so important. F-16 and F-15 along with the mighty F-18E and F are more than plenty. They are the envy of the world air-forces and no one will have that capability till 2030-2040 time-frame other than a few silver bullet fleets of T-50 fighters and perhaps a few squadrons of J-20. The F-22 more than takes care of that threat. The Growler and along with it the future jammer are utter waste of money. Add that to the Just So Failed and the NGJ begins to sound like NO GROUND or JUSTIFICATION!!

    • James B.

      Overall, the military should probably slim down the service-specific bureaucracies and budgets, and stand up several more functional commands to ensure that missions don’t get sidelined in intra-service politics (CAS, anyone?). We could certainly stand to have a TRONCOM at some level.

      • Curtis Conway

        Amen and Amen! Right now we are top heavy with bureaucracies, and most of those led by folks who have not “been there and done that”. Theory is great, but as they taught us (my generation, I don’t think they do that any more) in school, “You can postulate and theorize all you want . . . it is not until you have successfully navigated the path that you can truly say you KNOW”, and then we have to understand and recognize those who helped us get there, because one rarely does anything by themselves. TEAM TEAM TEAM . . . and a Christian Team at that! This is what the United States, and Americans, are all about, or at least that is how it used to be, and that made us the most powerful and influential country on the face of the planet for all time. Crystal Palace folks who must be in charge of things to succeed don’t hack it in Texas! reality comes home to visit, and we speak truth to offense.

        To whom much is given, much is expected. Narcissism is antithetical to sacrificial service.

  • CharleyA

    I read the General’s comments with some amusement – and concern. USAF leadership is blinded by stealth. Too bad the enemy won’t be.


    A very simple question, if the F35 is such a great and stealthy aircraft why does the Navy need more F/A-18G to protect the attack force?

  • Jeff

    Has anyone else noticed that media releases from the USN and USMC that are about the F-35 have started including the EA-6B and EA-18G as among the types of current aircraft the JSF is replacing? Since when did it become a jammer? If it carries external pods, it loses stealth completely — and that’s BEFORE they turn on the pods and it gets lit up like a “here I am” beacon. This isn’t just a random press release here and there that could be explained by some fresh-faced PA type who doesn’t know a pitot tube from a torpedo tube. All media releases about the B and C models are saying it will replace one or both of the jammers, so that’s coming from HQ, not the local PA staff, which makes the “Huh?” factor even bigger.

    • James B.

      The Marines aren’t planning to buy any -18E/F/G variants, so the F-35B will somehow replace the EA-6B when it sunsets. If a modern large-aperture radar is properly configured, it could probably put out jamming of some sort, but the F-35 would be pretty silly carrying pods–unstealthy and speed-limited.

    • Secundius

      @ Jeff.

      The AN/APG-81 AESA radar system is scheduled to be incorporated into ALL F/A-35 JSF, as an Augment the EA-18G’s, not too Replace them. The EA-18G’s and F/A-18E/F’s will also eventually be equipped with the AESA radar system as well…

  • KenofSoCal

    The ChairForce General is is delusional on the EW capabilities of the F-35 in the same manner as the CAS capabilities of the F-35.

  • Secundius

    I wonder if Cindy Lou Hensley-McCain, is going to make any money on this Defense Deal…

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  • ken pickard

    High end joint war fight? The Admiral needs a high end joint and to relax and stop perpetual warfare. Enough already.