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Whidbey Island
The EA-18G Growler waits before take-off at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., August 7, 2014. Electronic attack missions, flown by the Growler, are extremely complex and vital to providing cover for friendly aircraft during joint-combat operations. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott/RELEASED)
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EA-18G Growler officially the combat aircraft flown by 390th ECS

Posted 8/11/2014   Updated 8/11/2014 Email story   Print story


by Airman 1st Class Malissa Lott
366th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/11/2014 - NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. -- A chapter in military aircraft history officially closed in July as the Air Force flying operations at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island transitioned to the EA-18G Growler.

Air Force aircrew members with the 390th Electronic Combat Squadron, who work alongside and train U.S. Navy pilots and weapons system officers, took a final flight in the EA-6B Prowlers July 9, 2014. Now the EA-18G Growler is officially the combat aircraft flown by the 390th ECS.

"Our main mission is to train combat-effective aviators who will be flying in the EA-18G Growler throughout the worldwide theatre of operations," said Air Force Captain Ruskin Herrera, VAQ 129 Training Squadron electronic warfare officer.

These missions will be strategic resources for Air Force aircrew or combat forces.

"We will be supporting the Air Force whether it's in training environments or combat," said Air Force Major Ajay Giri, VAQ 129 Training Squadron EWO. "We help increase aircraft lethality and preserve our war-time reserves and equipment. We're going to minimize the exposure that our aircrew or our combat forces will be exposed to."

Electronic attack missions are extremely complex and vital to providing cover for friendly aircraft during joint-combat operations.

"Electronic attack is jamming radars, detecting signals being emitted from other radars and being able to protect other aircraft from those radar along with surface-to-air missiles," said Herrera. "This allows the overall mission to be accomplished."

Though the EA-6B Prowler and the EA-18G Growler are similar, the Growler has much more state-of-the-art equipment than the Prowler.

"We have the air-to-air capabilities and can self-protect, should we get intercepted by an enemy fighter," said Giri. "It also has highly modern and capable sensors too. We're building on the capabilities the Prowler had by providing state-of-the-art warfighter lethality."

The job of the Growler is more than jamming signals; it collects information which supports aircrews and ground forces.

"Anytime you get more information and send it out to the air players, they will have a much better picture of the battlefield as it develops," said Giri. "Now aircrews have the most up-to-date information going into the threat area and can react more efficiently and lethally."

For the individuals who flew the EA-6B Prowler, this transition brings mixed emotions.

"One of my last flights was to physically fly the Prowler from here down to the boneyard at Davis Monthan Air Force Base [Ariz.]--it's a little bitter sweet," said Air Force Maj. Shalin Turner, 390th ECS assistant director of operations. "Any aviator has a fondness for the aircraft that keeps them safe. It's an old jet but it got the job done for many years."

8/11/2014 12:32:45 PM ET
Will the Growlers eventually be marked as U. S. Air Force aircraft
Steve Billings, Memphis TN
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