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F/A-18G Jambox

March 29th, 2014 - 7:38 am

GROWLER

Why does the Navy want 22 more Growlers when they have all those F-35Cs coming on line (we hope) soon? It’s all about the electronic warfare:

The F-35 is targeted against a narrower array of frequencies and emits only in a fairly narrow swath in front of the aircraft, according to Manazir. (The F-35 is the only US aircraft designed to defeat the most advanced Russian anti-aircraft systems such as the S-400 so the guess is that the JSF emits in frequencies designed to confuse and disable the radar systems that feed those.) The Growler can engage in electronic warfare not only as it flies forward but continues to emit even after it begins to return to base. I asked Manazir whether the F-18′s lack of stealth meant the Growler would have to fly separately and far behind the stealthy F-35, but he said the Growler generates enough power to blanket the area ahead of the F-35s so they can act in a complementary fashion.

I believe it was Mr. Lion saying here in the comments the other day something about more airframes being better — and it’s nice to have a healthy variety, too.

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All Comments   (7)
All Comments   (7)
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F-18, the K-car of military aircraft.

NTTAWWT.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
First rule of developed and mature airframes: If the production line still exists, build as many as they'll let you. And a few extra when nobody is looking.

F-16 is following the same ethos, which is why it'll also be around for a very long time.

As to EW-- yes, stealthy aircraft can indeed be complementary to very "loud" EW birds. If you see an EW flight, most will assume that's what it is, and that's all it is. Most will not assume, for example, the EW flight is being used to hide stealthier planes that will break cover to do something else entirely at some point.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
EW is generally part of a strike package, they don't carry very much air-to-ground ordnance, so anyone who sees an EW flight will assume there are other planes nearby. The problem, from their perspective, is that the EW makes it difficult or impossible to target any aircraft in the package.

I was simply pointing out that it makes no sense to suffer the costs and compromises necessary to stealth an airframe that is going to be busy broadcasting. I'm sure that 20 or so years down the line we'll see an EW variant of the F-35, but that will be to take advantage of the supply chain commonalities, not the stealth characteristics of the airframe.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Stealth and electronic warfare are mutually incompatible. The whole point of EW is to broadcast enough radio energy to confuse enemy systems. It's kind of hard to hide when you're doing the electromagnetic equivalent of shouting NANANANANANANANANANA.

Then there's the fact that the E/A-18G is a different airplane from the F-18, and there isn't a EW variant of the F-35 in the works (let's just focus on getting airframes onto flight decks for now, shall we?).
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment

Heck, at this point let's just make sure there's enough flight decks for them to land on.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Why does the Navy want 22 more Growlers? Because they learned from the Air Force's bone headed idea of getting rid of all their Ravens.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
Just a quick little note... the designator on the Growler is E/A-18G, not F/A. E/A standing for Electronic & Attack. It is technically not a fighter (F) and usually isn't armed to engage in air-to-air skirmishes.
38 weeks ago
38 weeks ago Link To Comment
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