Going Expeditionary

As part of the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2011 budget request to Congress, the Navy seeks to procure an additional 26 EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, two in Fiscal 2011 and 24 in 2012, to mitigate a looming capability gap. These 26 Growlers will populate the four expeditionary Marine Corps EA squadrons that have escorted joint-force strike aircraft into hostile territory for decades, but were scheduled for decommissioning after the last EA-6B Prowlers are retired in 2014. Defense Secretary Robert Gates told Senate lawmakers Feb. 2 that these extra Growlers “will help fill an imminent EW shortfall that has been consistently highlighted by the combatant commanders as one of their highest priorities.” Prior to this change, the Navy had planned to buy enough Growlers only to support its carrier-based air wings and not serve in expeditionary roles. Navy budget officials said Gates directed this change and added the funding.