US Navy steps up trials of EA-18G Growler

Washington DC
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Boeing expected to fly the second EA-18G Growler electronic-attack aircraft late last week, as the first completed initial anechoic chamber tests at the US Navy's Patuxent River test centre in Maryland. The aircraft has also finished initial flight tests and direction-of-arrival testing its Block 1 software release, says Boeing programme manager Mike Gibbons.

A Block 1.5 software release will follow by year-end to support testing before an April decision on low-rate initial production. Gibbons says some functionality from the final Block 2 software due in mid-2007 has been drawn into Block 1.5. This will also add ALQ-227 communications countermeasures and "comm-while-jam" interference cancelling systems.

Carrier suitability testing using "dressed up" F/A-18E/Fs is on track to certify an increased carrier landing weight of 21,770kg (48,000lb) for the G, while flutter testing with fuel tanks, jamming pods and Raytheon AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles is complete.

The USN is already looking at enhancements including carriage of a targeting pod and additional weapons, Gibbons says.