The EA-18G is the only aircraft that can perform the dedicated electronic warfare (EW) and suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD) missions of the Tornado ECR
Boeing is offering its EA-18G along with the F/A-18E/F to Germany for its Tornado replacement program.
Boeing director for global sales for strike, surveillance, and mobility, Bryan Crutchfield, told Jane’s the EA-18G is well-suited to replace Luftwaffe’s Tornado ECR (Electronic Combat Reconnaissance).
“Any country with an electronic warfare mission in an A2AD [anti-access area denial] environment needs the Growler,” Crutchfield said on Apr. 25, 2018, adding, “We are now actively pitching this solution to the Germans.” As part of this pitch, the company stand at ILA featured a scale model of the aircraft, while the static display featured a pair of U.S. Navy Growlers.
The EA-18G Growler is a variant of the combat-proven F/A-18F Super Hornet and flies the airborne electronic attack mission. Thanks to its array of sensors and weapons, the aircraft is able to perform a wide range of missions such as Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD), Stand-off and Escort Jamming (where the Growler not only fly the traditional stand-off jamming mission but also provides the escort for other air assets thanks to the speed and agility inherited form the Super Hornet), Non-Traditional Electronic Attack (where thanks to its enhanced situational awareness the EA-18G achieves an unmatched degree of integration with ground operations) and Self-protection and Time-Critical Strike Support (where thanks to its Advanced Electronically Scanned Array [AESA] radar, digital data links and air-to-air missiles, the EA-18G has self-protection capability and is also highly effective for target identification and prosecution).
As we have already explained, the Luftwaffe (German Air Force) has a requirement to field a replacement for its fleet of 90 Tornado IDS (Interdiction Strike) and ECR aircraft starting from 2025 to enable a smooth transition into the retirement of the Tornado in about 2030. The German government stated that its preferred choice is to procure additional Eurofighter Typhoons, but the Super Hornet is on the list of preferred alternatives along with Boeing’s F-15 Advanced Eagle and Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter (JSF).
While each of these platforms could take on the strike role of the Tornado IDS, only the Growler has the dedicated electronic warfare (EW) and suppression of enemy air defenses (SEAD) roles of the Tornado ECR. While the other aircraft could be adapted to this role through the fitting of externals pods, according Crutchfield this would not be enough to put them on par with the Growler’s integrated and bespoke capabilities.
Photo credit: Cmdr. Ian C. Anderson and / U.S. Navy
Artwork courtesy of AircraftProfilePrints.com