ABOARD THE USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, Persian Gulf — While Navy F/A-18 Super Hornets deal death from the sky on Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria, the EA-18 Growler is jamming enemy communications — and potentially enemy drones too.
The Bush, which has been launching sorties in support of the counter-ISIS fight since early in the year, has four Hornet squadrons flying constant missions against the enemy. But also key to the fight are its squadron of Growlers and E-2C Hawkeye aircraft, which can detect airborne threats at distance and coordinate strikes from the air.
All fall under the command of Adm. Ken Whitesell, commander of the Bush carrier strike group. In an interview aboard the carrier, Whitesell said he believes the importance of the airborne Growler capability is underscored in the current fight with the emergence of small, commercially available unmanned aircraft systems as a weapon against coalition ground troops.
“You’ve probably been watching the unmanned aerial vehicles — homemade, Amazon-delivered, radio-controlled,” Whitesell said. “[ISIS militants can fly] homemade bombs over the top of forces and drop them by crashing the gyro-copters. So how can we attack those? The easiest way to do that is potentially to jam the signal and stop them flying.”
The Growler, which is nearly identical to the Hornet, features wingtip ALQ-99 jamming pods and ALQ-218 radar warning receiver equipment. Growlers fly regular sorties in concert with Hornets, though it’s much less easy to see the effect they have on the fight.
While Whitesell believes electronic warfare assets play a role in countering enemy radio-frequency capabilities, from small drone control to improvised explosive device detonation and...Read More HERE