Boeing Lobbies Congress to Add EA-18 Funding

Boeing Lobbies Congress to Add EA-18 Funding

Boeing Co. is pressing lawmakers to restore funding for the Navy’s EA-18 Growler, in the latest lobbying fight between the aerospace giant and Lockheed Martin Corp. over attack aircraft.

The Defense Department’s budget for fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1, doesn’t include money for the Growler, a version of the fourth-generation F/A-18 fighter jet designed for electronic warfare.

Now, Missouri Reps. Ann Wagner, a Republican, and Lacy Clay, a Democrat, are urging colleagues to sign a letter asking leaders of the congressional defense committees to add some $2 billion in funding for 22 EA-18Gs — the quantity the Navy included in its “unfunded priorities” list.

The aircraft, which is manufactured in Missouri, “is the only DoD option for electronic attack, and limited capacity significantly impacts mission effectiveness against current and future threats,” the letter states.

A spokesman for Rep. Wagner said her office has already received about two dozen signatures and was expecting even more by the close of business on Wednesday.

If the money isn’t included in the budget, Boeing will have to decide whether to shut down the production line this year, according to the letter. Such a move would hurt the industrial base, leaving the Defense Department with only a single manufacturer of tactical aircraft, radar and engines, it states.

“This scenario limits warfighting surge capacity, eliminates competition that drives innovation and cost control, and imperils future development programs,” it states.

The F/A-18 program is estimated to provide some $3 billion in annual economic impact, with 60,000 direct and indirect jobs and 800 suppliers and vendors, according to the letter.

Lockheed, the world’s largest defense contractor, is already pushing back. The Bethesda, Md.-based company makes the F-35, the fifth-generation stealth fighter designed to replace not only the F/A-18, but also the F-16, A-10 and AV-8B.

The company’s supporters, including Reps. Kay Granger, R-Texas, and John Larson, D-Conn., drafted another letter urging colleagues to support the Pentagon’s request for $8.3 billion to buy 34 F-35s — which they note is eight fewer than previously planned because of automatic budget cuts known as sequestration.

The Granger-Larson letter also points out that Russia is preparing to make its T-50 fighter available to the global market and the Chinese are investing heavily in the development of their own J-20 and J-31 fighters.

“These countries are also building and proliferating advanced surface-to-air missile systems that threaten to make our 4th Generation fighter fleet obsolete,” it states. “These rapidly advancing threats around the globe make a strong case for increasing F-35 production, even in this resource constrained environment.”

Watch for both sides to make similar arguments at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space conference next week in National Harbor, Md.

Associate Editor Brendan McGarry can be reached at

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When the Air Force and Marine Corps put away electronic attack they practically secured Boeing’s argument to keep this line open. There is no other option for electronic attack, except the EA-18G Growler.

Also, this article has a mistake. The F-35 is not designed to replace the EA-18G.

If this hyped up study actually brings any results, their could be an need for over 50 more Growlers, in retrospect even if that came true it’s only enough to keep the line open for another two years. At the very least the Pentagon better be pushing the Middle East to buy Hornets/Eagles so time is bought, they did it in 2002 with South Korea to save F-15 production they can do it for the Hornet.

If the D.O.D. wants Lockheed to be their only option then they can pay the price, literally in procurement costs and thousands of skilled jobs gone.

My understanding (perhaps stale info) is that the Marine Corps is planning to fly the EA-6B Prowler into 2019 and the Navy is planning to fly it into 2015 while transitioning to EA-18G Growlers.

Lockheed will then chime in, arguing JSF can do the EW mission.

That is a good argument for keeping the Boeing “Growler” line open. Unless we want to go to foreign defense contractors (like the EU, Russia and China, and now Japan) having competition in the bidding process sounds reasonable.

We need a A– 10 modified to get back in air,alot miss our parade bird!!


I find the fear mongering of the JSF supporters is complete bull. The newest Russian SAM is the SA-20 system which is a improved SA-10 SAM which is not new. 4th gen planes have done well in contested airspace and stealth doesn’t mean 100% survival ask that F-117 pilot in Kosovo. The DoD had a study that said we needed speed not stealth for survivability in combat. This is just wanting more and more money we don’t have to go for crap like JSF we don’t need.

As for a EA-18 is a ok plane ever sence why the EA-6 is any worse for EW missions though the plane is not meant for air to air combat they just loiter the plane around and shoot back at SAMs. Anyway more or not in Growlers that’s not the big thing this year.

That whole bit about advanced surface-to-air missile systems is exactly why the Growler is needed. If anything, its EW capabilities will be more flexible in the long run against these advanced systems than the passive/inflexible stealth characteristics of the F-22 and F-35.

I believe the Russian upgrade to the S-300 is the S-400. Yet American “Wild Weasels” have been carried by earlier airframes like the F-4 and F-111, into the Gulf Wars. We could plan for future stealth electronic countermeasures but the F-18 frame is good for most wars we’re likely to get into in the near future.

The FY15 Navy program has cut back all aircraft funding (e.g. only 2 F-35Cs for next few years) to fund its ship programs. Boeing has to convince Congress to delay or drop a DDG, SSN or LHD if it wants to fund the EA-18G.

The speeds mentioned in that report aren’t currently attainable by any aircraft we have. Even the SR-71 with it’s extraordinary speed and altitude was eventually fended off by the russian Mig-31s.

I think you a combination of both is necessary, but unfortunately neither is cheap. Perhaps even a total paradigm shift is necessary.

SSN never (there accelerated schedule is what’s saving the program money), DDG maybe (but only if you can keep the CGs from getting retired), no idea how the LHD is going though, but maybe delaying the LPD Flight II is another option.

A long term money-saving plan may be to delay the LHA-8 and stick to the LHA-6 and 7 (essentially LHP-6 and LHP-7). They might retire even more Ticos for Flight IIIA Burkes (though the newest upgrades to the Burke line are of unknown cost and might go into overrun). Accelerated retirement of the Perrys is another easy target for money.

$2B wasted on more metal Growlers is stupid. The F-35 and F-22 don’t need Growlers because their own jammer is much, much better than Growler support. F-15, F-16 and FA-18s need Growlers but we already have 138 of the EA-18 Growler jammers–the program of record is done. Even with Growlers F-15/16/18s going against the latest SAMs mentioned above is suicide–which is 100% WHY we are going to all stealth fighters–as are 11 of our allies–not to mention why the Chinese and Russians are developing their own stealth fighters. With extra $2B we would refuel the USS GW carrier or buy more F-35s or new rescue helos.

The Marines have no option to replace the EA-6B and the idea of the F-35B doing STOVL operations while being loaded down with ALQ-99’s is laughable at best. The idea of adding the software necessary for EA while Lockheed can’t even get the basic combat ready required codes fix until 2020 (or so they say) is ridiculous.

Boeing is playing their cards smart and with the US Navy backing them it looks like they’re going to get those new orders.

Buying several more EA-18’s just makes sense because of improvements in the Chinese military. I am not saying a lot but enough that we can take some of the older frames and put them through a comprehensive upgrade program without losing operational capability while doing an upgrade. (conformal tanks and improved engines)

Don’t see more Growlers as a likely possibility. As the USN is having a very hard time trying to find funding to keep the USS George Washington in service (refit) or purchase the number of F-35C’s that it wants. So, finding the necessary funding for “22” Growlers seems unlikely at best.

The argument to buy additional toys — are good. Very good and very valid. However, the question is not about — valid needs and wants — the real questions is — DO YOU HAVE MONEY??? Sadly — you dont have. Prioritize your need without borrowing too much. Remember Rome???

Marines plan to use Intrepid Tiger II comms jammer as their EW payload on F-35, a rather limited “solution.” In any case, that’s a ways away. The good thing for the Marines is that the pod requires only power from the host aircraft, so integrating it into F-35 would not be all that complex.

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