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Navy's Next-Generation Electronic Attack Aircraft Begins Assembly
Story Number: NNS040708-08
Release Date: 7/8/2004 8:13:00 AM

From Program Executive Office for Tactical Aircraft Public Affairs

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- A new era in Naval aviation was launched July 1, as assembly began for the first EA-18G aircraft, the next-generation electronic attack aircraft for the U.S. Navy.

The EA-18G combines the combat-proven F/A-18 Super Hornet with state-of-the-art electronic warfare avionics suite.

Mechanics of Northrop Grumman loaded the first bulkhead components for this new aircraft into the assembly tooling at the manufacturing facility in El Segundo, Calif. The milestone comes nearly six months after EA-18G prime contractor, The Boeing Company, began the program's system development and demonstration phase.

On hand to watch the ceremonial assembly commencement was Cmdr. Mark W. Darrah, Naval Air Systems Command's EA-18G deputy program manager.

“All of you are part of a revolutionary effort to bring the EA-18G weapon system into the fleet in record time," Darrah said. "We signed a contract with our industry partners in December, and six months and one day later, we see our first test asset begin production.”

The EA-18G will feature an airborne electronic attack suite based on Northrop Grumman’s Improved Capability 3 (ICAP 3) system, a radically new jamming and information warfare system currently in low-rate initial production for the EA-6B Prowler.

"Electronic warfare has become an essential, high- demand tool for protecting U.S. and allied forces engaged in the global war on terrorism. [It's] a capability provided day-in, day-out by the Navy's fleet of EA-6B Prowlers," said Patricia McMahon, Northrop Grumman's vice president for electronic warfare programs. "When the ICAP 3-based EA-18G enters service, it will become the most powerful weapon yet in the Navy's electronic warfare tool kit."

Recognizing the utility and versatility of the Super Hornet, the Navy is modifying the F/A-18F to perform the airborne electronic attack mission currently being flown by the EA-6B Prowlers. The EA-18G will serve as the Navy’s replacement for the fleet of EA-6Bs, providing a capability to detect, identify, locate and suppress hostile emitters.

Northrop Grumman expects to deliver the first EA-18G fuselage shipset to Boeing in March 2005. It's expected to enter initial operational capability in 2009.

For related news, visit the NAVAIR - Naval Air Systems Command Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/navair.