UPDATE: Obama wants 26 more Growlers for Whidbey

More Growlers will be flying the skies under President Barack Obama’s new budget.  - Boeing photo
More Growlers will be flying the skies under President Barack Obama’s new budget.
— image credit: Boeing photo

The Whidbey Island Naval Air Station will receive an additional 26 EA-18G Growler aircraft under President Obama’s 2011 defense budget.

Under the proposal, the Department of Defense plans to purchase the additional 26 electronic attack aircraft over the next two years.

U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen made the announcement late Monday.

“Buying more Growlers will strengthen our national security and support jobs at NAS Whidbey and in the surrounding community,” said Larsen, who serves as a co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Electronic Warfare Working Group. “Growler aircraft will provide superior Electronic Warfare capabilities that are urgently needed around the world.”

Until Monday, the Navy had planned to purchase and operate only 88 EA-18G Growlers to replace the aging EA-6B Prowlers. The announcement means that the Navy will purchase a total of 114 Growlers and will continue to deploy these electronic attack aircraft both on carriers and on land as “expeditionary” squadrons.

The budget proposes purchasing 12 Growlers in 2011 and 24 Growlers in 2012; previous defense budgets had called for purchasing 10 Growlers in 2011 and none the following year.

The Navy’s EA-18G Growler, a derivative of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, is built by Boeing.

According to Bob Papadakis with the Boeing Company, the company has delivered 19 Growlers to the Navy so far.

Kim Martin, public affairs officer at NAS Whidbey, said the base has all the necessary infrastructure and facilities to handle the extra aircraft.

In addition, Martin said the announcement suggests that the Growler expeditionary squadrons, which aren’t assigned to carrier air wings, will remain on Whidbey. The fate of the three squadrons had been in flux.

“I think this is great news,” Martin said. “I think it reduces the uncertainly surrounding those squadrons.”

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