Boeing EA–18G Growler

Product Type:

Electronic Attack Jet Fighter

Using Service (US):


Program Status:

Last aircraft to be purchased in FY 2016.

Prime Contractors:

Airframe: The Boeing Company
Engines: General Electric Aviation

The Boeing EA-18G Growler

About the EA-18G Program:

The Boeing EA-18G Growler is a tandem two-seat, carrier-based, electronic attack variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet strike fighter. The EA-18G Growler is the first electronic warfare aircraft produced in more than 35 years. The EA-18G is the replacement platform for the EA-6B Prowler. The Growler delivers higher speed, greater maneuverability, more reliability, and reduced operating costs.

The aircraft is powered by two General Electric F414-GE-400 afterburning turbofan engines, each providing 22,000 pounds of thrust.

The Boeing Co. and the U.S. Navy signed a five-year System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract on December 29, 2003. The EA-18G made its maiden flight on August 15, 2006 and the first aircraft was delivered in June 2008 to Electronic Attack Squadron VAQ-129 at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington. As part of carrier air wings, the EA-18G operates from the Navy's fleet of Nimitz Class aircraft carriers. A carrier air wing has five EA-18G models or four EA-6Bs. The Growler's initial combat deployment occurred in late 2010 and concluded in mid-2011 having supported operations in Iraq and Libya. The EA-18G is expected to remain in service with the U.S. Navy through 2040.

Boeing's F/A-18 / EA-18G assembly line is located in St. Louis, Missouri. As a principal subcontractor, Northrop Grumman produces the aft/center fuselage section and vertical tails and integrates all associated subsystems at its facilities in El Segundo, California.

The Growler's Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) suite provides a cutting-edge selective-reactive and pre-emptive jamming capability. Nine weapon stations (hardpoints) provide carriage of weapons, AN/ALQ-99 Jamming Pods, and other stores to meet the needs for standoff jamming, escort jamming, time critical strike or communications countermeasures. The AEA communications receiver and jamming system provide electronic suppression and attack against communication threats. Each AN/ALQ-99 pod houses two powerful continuous wave transmitters that use beam steering to direct the jamming signal towards the threat. Each pod has a control computer linked to the Northrop Grumman AN/ALQ-218 Tactical Jamming Receiver. The ALQ-218 receiver is installed in the Growler's nose gun-bay, with the antennas mounted on wingtip pods.

The advanced cockpit, combined with onboard sensors and weapons, provides a superior Suppression of Enemy Air Defense (SEAD) capability. The Growler is equipped with a Raytheon AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) radar, which offers increased electronic warfare support and is capable of precision targeting. The EA-18G also features the Raytheon AN/ALQ-227 Communications Countermeasures System (CCS), a Link 16 / Multifunction Information Distribution System (MIDS), the Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), and an Interference Cancellation System (INCANS).

The Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) is currently being developed for the EA-18G to replace the legacy AN/ALQ-99 Jamming Pods. NGJ will incorporate the most advanced electronic attack technology. In July 2013, Raytheon won a $279.4 million contract for the Technology Development (TD) phase. NGJ is expected to become operational in 2020.

Current plans call for 160 EA-18G Growler aircraft to be delivered to the U.S. Navy (incl. 15 + 7 aircraft from FY 15 and FY 16 Congressional Additions and 3 aircraft from the A-12 settlement). By September 2012, 74 aircraft had been delivered. In May 2014, a major milestone was reached when Boeing delivered the 100th EA-18G. As of September 2015, there are 116 EA-18Gs in service with the U.S. Navy. Procurement of the aircraft is expected to end in FY 2016.

On May 3, 2013, Australia announced its decision to purchase 12 EA-18G Growlers, making Australia the only country other than the United States to purchase the aircraft. The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) is expected to take delivery of the first aircraft in-country in 2017.


The EA-18G Growler has no main gun but features nine weapon stations (hardpoints) and can carry AIM-120 AMRAAM, AGM-88 HARM/AARGM, and AN/ALQ-99 Low Band Jamming Pods. For more detail, see specifications below.

Price/Unit Cost:

In FY 2016, the unit cost of an EA-18G was $80.4 million (flyaway cost). The airframe cost $46.21 million, the two F414-GE-400 engines cost $10.72 million ($5.36 million each), the avionics package cost $17.16 million, with other costs making up the remaining $6.35 million.

Total Cost - Life of Program (LoP):

The total procurement cost of the EA-18G program is $13.23 billion (estimated by the DoD in FY 2016) + $2.42 billion in research and development (RDT&E) funds, which means the total estimated program cost is $15.65 billion (numbers are aggregated annual funds spent over the life of the program and no price/inflation adjustment was made). This figure excludes military construction (MILCON) costs in support of the program in the amount of $24.0 million.


The EA-18G provides one of the most flexible offensive electronic warfare capabilities available across the spectrum of conflict from irregular warfare to major contingency operations. The EA-18G supports naval, joint, and coalition strike aircraft, providing radar and communications jamming and kinetic effects to increase the survivability and lethality of all strike aircraft. The EA-18G can operate autonomously or as a major node in a network centric operation. The EA-18G's electronic suite can both detect, identify, and locate emitters + suppress hostile emitters through jamming and kinetic effects.

FY 2016 DoD Program:

An FY 16 Congressional Addition of $660.0 million supports the purchase of seven EA-18G Growlers. Additionally, the A-12 Settlement provides $198.0 million for the purchase of three EA-18Gs for at total of 10 aircraft. Procurement funds in the amount of $858.0 million have been provided for the EA-18G program + $46.9 million for RDT&E. On top of that, RDT&E funds in the amount of $400.8 million have been provided for the Next Generation Jammer program.

FY 2017 DoD Program:

No new aircraft purchased. The FY 17 Budget requests $22.6 million for modifications (excludes funding for modifications shared with the F/A-18) and $116.8 million for RDT&E. On top of that, RDT&E funds in the amount of $629.9 million have been requested for the Next Generation Jammer program.

For more information, click to see the FY 2017 Navy EA-18G Procurement Budget.

Sources: U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF),
The Boeing Company, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman, and General Electric Co.

Specifications Armament DoD Spending FY2017 Budget

Last Update: June 27, 2016.

By Joakim Kasper Oestergaard Balle /// (

External Resources:

Boeing's EA-18G Site: Boeing EA-18G Growler

GE Aviation: F414-GE-400 Turbofan Engine
Raytheon: AN/APG-79 AESA radar
Raytheon: Next Generation Jammer (NGJ)
Northrop Grumman: AN/ALQ-218 Tactical Jamming Receiver
Cobham: AN/ALQ-99 Low Band Jamming Pod

YouTube: Boeing EA-18G Growler on YouTube

Fact Sheet: Boeing EA-18G Growler
Product Card: Boeing EA-18G Growler

Total EA-18G Program Cost:

 $15.65 billion  ($13.23B procurement + $2.42B RDT&E)

EA-18G Procurement Objective:

  160 aircraft  (incl. 25 A/C added in FY 15-16)

EA-18G U.S. Defense Budget Charts:

DoD Spending on the EA-18G Growler in FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016 and FY 2017
DoD Purchases of EA-18G Growler Aircraft in FY 2013, FY 2014, FY 2015, FY 2016 and FY 2017
Defense Budget Data

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DoD Spending, Procurement and RDT&E: FY 2013/14/15 + Budget for FYs 2016 + 2017

DoD Defense Spending, Procurement, Modifications, Spares, and RDT&E for the EA-18G Growler

Download Official U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) Budget Data:

EA-18G Purchases (NAVY) Mod. of F/A-18 / EA-18 Aircraft (NAVY) RDT&E: Next Gen. Jammer (NAVY)
RDT&E: EA-18 Squadrons (NAVY) RDT&E: Next Gen. Jammer Incr. II (NAVY)

Aircraft Specifications: EA-18G Growler

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Primary Function: Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA)
Prime Contractor: The Boeing Co.
Power Plant: 2x General Electric F414-GE-400 afterburning turbofan engines
Thrust: 14,000 pounds dry thrust; 22,000 pounds thrust with afterburner (each engine)
Wingspan: 44 ft 9 in (13.68 m)
Length: 60 ft 2 in (18.5 m)
Height: 16 ft (4.87 m)
Weight (Empty): 33,094 lbs (15,011 kg)
Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW): 66,000 lbs (29,938 kg)
Speed: Max: Mach 1.8+/1,034 kts/1,190 mph (1,934 km/h)
Service Ceiling: 50,000 ft (15,240 m)
Range: 1,275 nm/1,467 miles (2,346 km)
Combat Radius: 850+ nm/978+ miles (1,575 km) with 2x AIM-120, 2x AGM-88 HARM/AARGM,
3x AN/ALQ-99 Low Band Jamming Pods, and 2x 480 gallon external fuel tanks
Crew: Two (one Pilot and one weapons systems officer)
Price/Unit Cost: $80.4 million flyaway cost (in FY 2016)
First Flight: August 15, 2006
Deployed: 2008; Initial Operational Capability (IOC): September 22, 2009

Aircraft Inventory (September 2015): 116

Main Gun: None.
Typical Configuration: 2x AIM-120 AMRAAM + 2x AGM-88 HARM/AARGM + 3x AN/ALQ-99 Low Band Jamming Pods.

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