No Growling, Here

The Chief of Naval Operations, Adm. Michael Mullen, observed at last week’s rollout of the Navy’s new EF-18G Growler, based on the F/A-18 E/F airframe, that the program is under budget and ahead of schedule. In fact, says program manager Navy Capt. Donald Gaddis, the Growler’s software effort is going so well that “we’re moving it six months to the left,” meaning the Navy has accelerated the timetable. Gaddis said that would give testers six extra months to wring out the software and add credibility to the Navy’s timetable for the aircraft’s introduction. The Growler will replace the Navy’s EA-6B Prowler, which has been operated by joint crews of Navy, Marine Corps, and Air Force airmen, since USAF retired its EF-111 electronic attack aircraft almost 10 years ago. Once the EA-6B retires, starting in 2009, the Air Force will lose its “ride” on a jamming aircraft and appears to have no solid plan for a replacement. There are some who advocate F-35s in an EA role.