US Navy Upgrades Boeing EA-18G Growler with Long-Range Targeting System

The United States Navy has recently made the decision to upgrade the Boeing EA-18G Growler with an updated datalink as well as various other systems which would enable the aircraft to locate vessels at a long distance without the use of a radar.

This enhanced targeting capability provides our aircrews with a significant advantage, especially in an increasingly designs threat environment where longer-range targeting is critical to the fight, said Capt. David Kindley, the United States Navy F/A-18 and EA-18G program manager.

The new capabilities for the Growler were first announced last August by Naval officials, as they revealed an innovative development by utilizing modern techniques to offer electronic identification. Currently, the EA-18G already uses an active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, the Raytheon APG-79, in order to identify targets at long-range. The major concern with the Raytheon APG-79 though, is that the use of that emitter exposes the aircraft to radar warning systems on the target’s aircraft, subsequently revealing the attack aircraft’s location.

This long-range targeting technology is essential as we advance electronic attack capabilities for the conflicts of today and tomorrow, said Boeing’s vice president of the Boeing F/A-18 and Boeing EA-18G programs, Dan Gillian.

The Northrop Grumman ALQ-218, which are a set of wingtip-mounted electronic receivers, is an alternative option as this equipment uses a processing technique referred to as long baseline interferometry, in order to locate targets. Although this technology would keep the EA-18 electronically stealthy, it is only effective at short ranges. The United States Navy has recently been testing a newer system which would be equipped with high-bandwidth TTNT datalink in order to utilize a faster targeting processor with an open architecture.

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