The aircraft, EA-18G Growler BUNO 168273 has only 1640 flight hours on the airframe so it has a lot of life left in service to the country.
Taken on Feb. 19, 2021, the interesting photos in this post show “Viking 515,” EA-18G BUNO 168273 returned to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) via truck to be repaired.
As explained on Commander, Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet Facebook Page, while assigned to VAQ-136, the aircraft was involved in a mid-air collision on Sep. 14, 2017 and safely recovered at NAS Fallon, NV. The aircraft went through numerous damage assessments and engineering quarries to determine if the aircraft could be fixed and if so, could the life of the airframe be preserved.
In 2019 it was determined that the aircraft could be repaired by replacing the Y-128 former forward of the cockpit and be able to retain its life expectancy. This type of repair had never been done before so, the repair was performed on a strike aircraft at Fleet Readiness Center Southwest to detail the repair steps, determine equipment requirements and the proof of concept for the repair. It was then determined that no major teardown of the aircraft would be needed requiring new jig development or special repair facilities.
In late 2020, leadership decided to ship the aircraft to NASWI for repair by the depot artisans at Fleet Readiness Center Northwest. A team from VAQ-129 went to NAS Fallon to begin the preparation work. A depot team at NAS Fallon began aircraft final preparations in December for overland shipment that involved wing removal, flight control surface removal, and other aircraft configuration requirements.
The aircraft left NAS Fallon on the afternoon of Feb. 16, 2021 on a flatbed semi-truck arriving at NAS Whidbey Island at approximately 1100 on Friday, Feb.19, 2021. The aircraft was craned off onto bucks, landing gear lowered, and tires reinstalled before being lowered to the ground.
The Y-128 former must now be milled and installed. It is expected to take 8 – 12 months to make repairs barring any significant delays.
The aircraft has only 1640 flight hours on the airframe so it has a lot of life left in service to the country.
The EA-18G Growler is the most advanced airborne electronic attack (AEA) platform and is the only one in production today. A variant of the combat-proven F/A-18F Super Hornet, the Growler provides tactical jamming and electronic protection to US military forces and allies around the world. Industry and the US Navy continue to invest in advanced Growler capabilities to ensure it continues to protect all strike aircraft during high-threat missions for decades to come.
Photo credit: U.S. Navy