Boeing has begun modifying its first of two flight-test EA-18G electronic-attack aircraft, having rolled the F/A-18F off its Super Hornet production line at St Louis, Missouri last week. The company will launch a year-long effort to modify the two-seat aircraft to the EA-18G configuration, with the second flight-test aircraft to follow later this month, says Bob Feldman, EA-18G programme manager.

The first aircraft is due out of modification in June 2006, and will undergo extensive ground testing before a scheduled first flight in September. The US Navy plans to acquire 90 EA-18Gs to replace its Northrop Grumman EA-6B Prowlers, with production beginning in 2006.

Modifications include installing radio-frequency cables in the wing for the wingtip receiver pods and racks in the nose to mount the system electronics, as well as flight-test instrumentation, says Feldman. The two aircraft will be focused on systems testing, with aerodynamic, load and flutter testing to start this year using existing flight-test F/A-18E/Fs fitted with mass-equivalent wingtip pods, he says.

The EA-18G's Northrop-developed electronic-attack suite is derived from the EA-6B Improved Capability III system. It includes the ALQ-218(V)2 tactical jamming receiver, ALQ-99 jamming pods and a new electronic-attack unit, which manages the system and integrates with the mission computer.


Source: Flight International