Six US Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft are being deployed to Spangdahlem airbase in Germany to bolster NATO’s defense posture, Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby said on Monday.
“In coordination with the German government, six US Navy EA-18 G growler aircraft from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, are scheduled to arrive at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany today and this is in order to bolster readiness and NATO’s collective defense posture and further increase air integration capabilities with our Allied and partner nations,” Kirby said during a conference call.
Some 240 Navy personnel will deploy to Germany consisting of pilots and maintenance crew, Kirby added.
The EA-18 Growler is an EW aircraft manufactured by US defense giant Boeing. The Growler is a derivative of the F/A-18 Super Hornet. The Growler with a length of 18.3m, a height of 4.9m, and a wingspan of 13.7m can cruise at top speeds of 1,960 KMPH and boasts a service ceiling of 50,000 feet.
The aircraft was developed to counter adversaries by offering tactical jamming capabilities besides offering land and naval defense against the hostile EW system. This is accomplished via two Northrop Grumman ALQ-218(V)2 wingtip pods that have a wideband receiver and selective reactive jamming capability.
The Growler is armed with two AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARMs) and two AIM-120C AMRAAM air-to-air missiles. The commissioning of the EA-18 Growlers commenced in 2009 and is currently in use by the US Navy.
While the specification of the aircraft’s EW suite is secret, the wingtip pods seen on the EA-18 Growler form part of that aircraft’s internal AN/ALQ-218 system. This complete suite incorporates a radar warning receiver, electronic support measures, and electronic intelligence functionality.
These features give the Growler the capability to identify, characterize, and geolocate hostile radars. Moreover, it would aid in data accumulation on enemy signals.
The US Navy is reportedly exploring newer EW pods for its EA-18G Growler as part of its Next Generation Jammer (NGI) program. Having an assortment of pods optimized for various frequency bands offers a variety of attack options catering to a multitude of EW threats and systems.
Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi is scheduled to meet with his counterparts from the NATO countries and their global partners in early April, Japanese media reported on Monday.
According to the Kyodo news agency, the Japanese foreign minister is planning to strengthen coordination with the alliance in the context of Russia’s special military operation in Ukraine, including enforcement of sanctions and hosting Ukrainian evacuees.
The issue of China’s increased activities in the East and South China seas and near Taiwan are also expected to be on the agenda. Tokyo will also suggest increased vigilance over North Korea’s missile and nuclear activities.
Apart from Hayashi, foreign ministers from other NATO partners like South Korea and Australia will attend the meeting. The Japanese diplomat is also considering bilateral meetings with other participants, the agency added.