On October 28, the U.S. Navy awarded Boeing an $897.5 million contract for the procurement of 15 EA-18G Growler aircraft, plus their airborne electronic attack kits. With this production now assured, the replacement of one of the most essential components of the aircraft can also move closer to reality.
By decade’s end, the aging ALQ-99 tactical jamming systems that currently equip the Growlers will be replaced by the Next Generation Jammer (NGJ). The standoff jamming initiative is easily the Navy’s most important electronic warfare program at present. When complete, the NGJ-equipped EA-18G will provide U.S. forces with an enhanced ability to disrupt and disable an enemy’s ground-based communications and electronic warfare capabilities.
The NGJ program has been a priority for the Pentagon for some years now. Based on an estimated projection of the FY16 defense budget, over $3 billion is likely to be spent on development and production of the NGJ into the next decade.
Recently, in a November 2014 collaboration with the U.S. Navy, NGJ contractor Raytheon successfully demonstrated an end-to-end, integrated electronic attack using the jammer during flight tests at the Naval Air Weapons Station, China Lake.
Work under the latest EA-18G contract is expected to be completed in January 2018. The Navy’s in-service target date for the NGJ is 2020.