Military Aviation

EA-18G CANOPY EXPLOSION BEHIND THE GROUNDING OF THE U.S. NAVY GROWLER AND SUPER HORNET FIGHTER JETS LAST MONTH

EA-18G canopy explosion

A canopy explosion experienced on Dec. 16, 2016 by a Boeing EA-18G assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 132 Scorpions was behind the temporary grounding of the U.S. Navy entire fleet of Growler and Super Hornet fighter jets.

The accident took place at Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island shortly before a morning sortie and caused unspecified but serious injuries to both the crew members of the aircraft.

A NAS Whidbey Island SAR helicopter transported the aircrew to Harborview Medical Center for evaluation after the incident.

According to Sandiegouniontribune.com, the Naval Safety Center has classified the incident as a “Class A Mishap,” which refers to accidents that cause $2 million or more in damage or result in permanent and total disability to a crew member. Moreover even if the damage sustained by the Growler is marked as $0 on the initial report, Naval Safety Center spokeswoman Margaret Menzies said investigators “have not assessed the total cost of the damage” and the probe continues.

However Lt. Cmdr. Jeanette D. Groeneveld, spokeswoman for Naval Air Forces, explained that the EA-18G did not catch on fire following the explosion.

Growler and Super Hornet fleets grounded

Given that Boeing Super Hornet and Growler share common aircraft systems Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker — commander of Naval Air Forces — temporarily suspended flight operations for both types of jets in the wake of the canopy explosion.

According to the first results of the investigation the accident could have been caused by the frigid weather along with the routine washing of the aircraft: in fact new measures will be designed to change the aircraft’s water-wash procedures in order to mitigate the effects of icing.

As we have already explained 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 Non-Traditional Electronic Attack and Self-protection and Time-Critical Strike Support.

Photo credid: Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Greenberg and Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard U.S. Navy

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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