17 Mar 2014 By Jon Hemmerdinger - FG
Washington DC - The US Navy has confirmed it wants to buy additional Boeing E/A-18G Growler aircraft – a move the service says will protect the nation’s industrial base and provide it with the electronic warfare capability it will need in the coming decades.
“I see a growing Growler need,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm Jonathan Greenert told lawmakers during a House Armed Services Committee hearing on 12 March. “We are at the minimum requirement as we know it.”
“Today we have the minimum numbers [of Growlers] in each squadron,” adds USN secretary Ray Mabus.
The navy, which did not immediately respond to a request for additional information, currently has five Growlers per squadron, Mabus says. “Looking in the future, we don’t think electronic attack is going to get any smaller,” he adds.
The comments come days after news that the USN is seeking to include 22 additional Growlers in its “unfunded” requirements request for fiscal year 2015. That document, which must be approved by military leaders, includes items that were not in the military’s FY2015 budget request, released earlier this month.
In his committee testimony, Greenert calls the request a “hedge and risk-reduction” effort, adding that the navy is “very mindful of the industrial base”.
The US government is also “working on things like foreign military sales to keep that [Boeing] line in business”, Greenert adds.
Boeing’s Super Hornet and Growler production line in St Louis, Missouri will run out of work in the third quarter of 2016, if the company does not receive additional orders from the US government or foreign militaries.
The manufacturer says its twin-seat Growler can provide the electronic jamming capability needed to ensure other fighters – like Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – are most effective.