What are the “electronic attack aircraft” deployed by the United States in Europe

The United States has deployed six Boeing EA-18G Growler “electronic attack” aircraft to northern Europe in an effort to bolster its military presence in the region. These devices are designed to overcome enemy air defenses by crippling radar systems.

The Boeing EA-18G Growler are American electronic warfare aircraft derived from the F/A-18F Super Hornet. Instead of the 20 mm internal cannon provided on the famous fighter aircraft, these devices offer electronic warfare equipment. They also have nine external weapon stations that can be fitted with missiles or pods with additional electronic jamming equipment.

According to John Kirby, spokesman for the Pentagon, six of these planes arrived this Tuesday, March 29 at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, with 240 crew members and maintainers. These aircraft are usually based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, a US Navy naval air base located in Island County.

The Growlers join the US military force deployed in Germany, Poland and Hungary since February.

How do these planes work?

Air defense radars emit radio pulses capable of reflecting off enemy aircraft. This radar information can then be used to accurately launch surface-to-air missiles hundreds of miles away. Concretely, the electronic warfare systems of the Growlers are designed to jam those air defense radars enemies by overwhelming the radio frequencies they use with noise or false information.

These aircraft are capable of jam several types of systems air defense radars and overcome the different types of countermeasures that can be used to prevent air defense radars from being jammed in electronic attacks. Naturally, the details of exactly how it all works are closely guarded secrets.

In addition to jamming, the EA-18G aircraft’s electronic warfare systems are also capable of identifying and locating enemy air defense radars and then automatically relaying that information to allied fighters.

Finally, these jets are also equipped with anti-radar missiles capable of heading towards the radar transmissions of enemy air defenses to destroy them. They are also equipped with medium-range air-to-air missiles for defense against enemy combat aircraft.

An EA-18G Growler in flight. Credits: US Navy

No assignments at the moment

According to the spokesperson, these jets were deployed as part of U.S. efforts to bolster NATO’s deterrence and defense capabilities along the eastern flank“, can we read in a press release. For the time being, there are therefore no plans to operate any specific jamming mission against Russian forces in Ukraine.

John Kirby also points out that it would be up to the United States European Command whether or not the newly deployed EA-18G Growlers will perform presence missions in the border regions of NATO countries, such as Poland and Lithuania, as do the American F-35 planes deployed in the Baltic Sea since February.


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