Larger squadron options may delay Growler study

The Navy announced Friday its plans to consider larger EA-18G Growler squadrons as part of the Environmental Impact Statement it initiated last year.

Including new alternatives in the EIS will likely require re-scoping of the project and push out the completion date, according to a news release issued Friday by Fleet Forces Command.

A draft of the EIS is currently slated to be released next year, with an adoption date in 2016.

The move is in response to Congress’ current discussions about appropriating funds to the U.S. Navy for additional Growlers, the news release said.

“While it is unclear whether more Growlers will ultimately be procured, the Navy has decided to be proactive in analyzing the potential growth in the Growler inventory, in order to ensure full transparency with the public and local community,” the news release said.

Currently, Electronic Attack Squadrons have five aircraft each. Under three new alternatives, squadrons would be increased to have seven or eight aircraft.

Fleet Forces Command was directed by the Navy to incorporate these squadron alternatives in the EIS and are currently evaluating how the change will affect the timing of the EIS.

An announcement will be made to the public when a decision is reached.

The number of Growlers in the Navy inventory, and the number ultimately based at NAS Whidbey Island, will depend on how many, if any, are funded by Congress, the news release said.

The original scoping was looking at the impact of two additional expeditionary Growler squadrons and three additional aircraft to the training squadron at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

All three of the new alternatives would mean an increase in Growlers, pilots and support staff.

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