The US Navy and Boeing have successfully demonstrated new targeting technologies for EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, in a bid to enhance the aircraft’s situational awareness capabilities.
The demonstration proved that the rapid integration and distribution of target information across multiple aircraft greatly enhances aircrew safety and effectiveness.
For testing, a Windows-based tablet was integrated with the aircraft’s mission system for the first time, to allow aircrews to more easily access data and communicate with crews in other aircraft.
Using the new high-bandwidth data link, an advanced targeting processor, an open architecture and a tablet integrated with the mission system, data was integrated from multiple Growlers operating with an E-2 Hawkeye aircraft.
This technology enabled EA-18G to detect targets over longer distances and quickly share information.
US Navy F/A-18 and EA-18G programme manager captain David Kindley said: "This enhanced targeting capability provides our aircrews with a significant advantage, especially in an increasingly dense threat environment where longer-range targeting is critical to the fight."
Boeing F/A-18 and EA-18G programmes vice-president Dan Gillian added: "The complexity of global threat environments continues to evolve.
"This long-range targeting technology is essential as we advance electronic attack capabilities for the conflicts of today and tomorrow."
The US Navy is planning to retrofit the existing Growlers with the targeting technology upgrades while include it as a standard offering on all new aircraft that are currently in production.
Developed to replace the US Navy’s aging EA-6B Prowler aircraft which entered service in 1971, the Growler aircraft is a derivative of the two-seat F/A-18 Hornet and is used to conduct electronic attack (EA) and suppression of enemy air defences (SEAD).
Image: A Naval flight officer from NAVAIR’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron Two Three (VX-23) enters information on a Windows-based tablet prior to flight. Photo: courtesy of U.S. Navy.