US Navy mulls cutting third of EA-18G Growler fleet

U.S. Air Force photo

The US Navy announced its plans to decommission all non-carrier-based EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. 

The choice was revealed in the Department of the Navy budget highlights for the fiscal year 2023. The five squadrons, a total of 25 Growlers, would be sent “in long-term preservation at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG)” colloquially known as the Boneyard, located at Davis-Montham Air Force Base in the Arizona desert.  

The decommission would take place in two installments, with half the fleet retired in 2024, and the other half in 2025. The decision would liberate “approximately 1,020 associated officers” and save $807.8 million. 

A variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, the Growler provides tactical jamming and electronic protection to help aircrews reach their target without being detected. It replaced the Vietnam-era Grumman EA-6B Prowler (based on the airframe of the A-6 Intruder) within the US Navy fleet. 

The five Expeditionary Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ-131, 132, 134, 135, and 138) are currently based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. They were regularly deployed in Asia and Europe to support the US armed forces and their allies. In March 2022, six Growlers belonging to VAQ-134 were sent to Spangdahlem Air Base, in Germany, to bolster NATO’s air presence following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

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