"The Growler team put together a program plan that... has remained on cost and schedule, while meeting or exceeding all performance parameters. I don't get to say that very often about our programs," said The Hon. Delores Etter, assistant secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, during the delivery ceremony at Boeing Integrated Defense Systems facilities in St. Louis. "We have a great start to a total procurement of over 80 Gs, which will operate in our fleet for decades to come."
The U.S. armed forces' newest airborne electronic attack (AEA) aircraft combines the Super Hornet's proven airframe and mission systems with a next-generation airborne electronic attack suite. By using the Super Hornet airframe, the EA-18G program and the Navy can leverage the existing capabilities and known reliability and maintainability characteristics of the F/A-18E/F to provide an advanced AEA platform at a fraction of the cost and time of a completely new aircraft. Unlike the two aircraft already in flight test, the EA-18G Growler delivered today was entirely assembled and tested on the same production line as the existing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet.
"We're very proud today to follow the Super Hornet tradition of delivering on our promises," said Bob Gower, Boeing vice president of F/A-18 programs. "We made a very ambitious promise to our customer in 2003 that we would deliver this aircraft, built on the same line as our Super Hornets, by the end of 2007. We've not only met those promises; our team has found a way to meet every challenge and deliver a cost-effective, incredibly capable product, ahead of schedule."
"Since the rollout in August of '06, the first flight, the software, the flight testing, it's all coming on time, which is a tremendous boon in my world," said U.S. Navy procurement chief Rear Adm. Kenneth Floyd, director, Aviation and Aircraft Carrier Plans and Requirements. "We're glad to have it, and once we get it out in the fleet, we're going to be flying this thing in ways that nobody ever thought possible. A good day for the Navy, a good day for the nation, and I think the only people that might be having a bad day are the people that end up on the business end of this thing's capacity."
The aircraft, dubbed G-1, will join the flight test program at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., before entering fleet service. The Growler is expected to complete flight testing in 2008, followed by initial operational capability in 2009.
Boeing, acting as the weapon system integrator and prime contractor, leads the EA-18G Growler industry team. Northrop Grumman is the principal subcontractor and airborne electronic attack subsystem integrator. The Hornet Industry Team divides EA-18G production across Boeing, Northrop Grumman, General Electric and Raytheon manufacturing facilities. Naval Air Systems Command PMA-265 is the U.S. Navy acquisition office for the EA-18G.