ST. LOUIS --- The Boeing EA-18G program test team reached a key milestone May 30 when it flew a modified F/A-18F equipped with wingtip antenna and high- and low-band jamming pods for the first time. The flight was part of ongoing flying qualities and carrier suitability testing to validate the EA-18G's shipboard effectiveness. The EA-18G Growler is a derivative of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, that has been flying from carriers since 1997.
The three-month carrier suitability tests, flown by U.S. Navy pilots, include catapult launches and cable arrestments from test facilities at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md. Initial tests will measure aircraft loads to verify that the landing gear and airframe meet design specifications. The tests also will monitor the catapult and arrestment systems to assess if the Growler settings are accurate.
"These tests are a big milestone for the EA-18G program," said Mike Gibbons, Boeing EA-18G program manager. "We know the Super Hornet airframe works well in challenging at-sea conditions. Now we're verifying that the EA-18G, with potentially greater bringback for fuel and weapons capacity, will work just as well."
Over 25 flights, the carrier suitability tests will measure how well the Growler performs in a variety of takeoff and landing situations, including high sink, free flight engagement, on- and off-center catapults and arrestments. The EA-18G testing will allow for higher landing weights than the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet to provide greater flexibility in the return of high-value jamming pods plus other weapons and stores.
Boeing, acting as the weapon system integrator and prime contractor, leads the EA-18G Growler industry team. Northrop Grumman is the principal subcontractor and airborne electronic attack subsystem integrator. The Hornet Industry Team will divide EA-18G production across Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Electric and Raytheon manufacturing facilities. The System Design and Development program concludes with an Initial Operational Capability in 2009. Naval Air Systems Command PMA-265 is the U.S. Navy acquisition office for the EA-18G.
A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is one of the world's largest space and defense businesses. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Integrated Defense Systems is a $30.8 billion business. It provides network-centric system solutions to its global military, government and commercial customers. It is a leading provider of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance systems; the world's largest military aircraft manufacturer; the world's largest satellite manufacturer; a foremost developer of advanced concepts and technologies; a leading provider of space-based communications; the primary systems integrator for U.S. missile defense; NASA's largest contractor; and a global leader in sustainment solutions and launch services.
Boeing Flies EA-18G Wingtip and Jamming Pods for First Time