Editorial: Needed boost to the economy

In the present bleak economy, Oak Harbor received a boost early this month when it was announced that President Barack Obama’s 2011 Defense Budget includes money for 26 additional EA-18G Growlers to be based at Whidbey Island Naval Air Station.

There are 19 of the new Growlers presently based at Whidbey and the announcement that 12 more will be purchased in 2011 and 24 more in 2012 was welcome news indeed.

As Second District Congressman Rick Larsen said, “Buying more Growlers will strengthen our national security and support jobs at NAS Whidbey.”

Although much of the Growler’s capabilities are top secret, it’s no secret that war commanders want more of its electronic warfare capabilities. The plans are said to play an important role in combating roadside bombs, which are controlled by electronic signals that can be interrupted by the Growler. And, of course, when the U.S. launches any massive aerial attack, the Growlers pave the way by destroying or disrupting the enemy’s radio and radar capabilities.

The decision to build more Growlers was also good news for the Boeing Co. The Growler is built on the platform of the workhorse F-18 fighter, and this will assure the production line will remain open.

The one real strength in Whidbey Island’s economy is NAS Whidbey, which supplies thousand of military and civilian jobs and pumps hundreds of millions of dollars into the economy annually. All other aspects of the economy are minor by comparison, and that’s fortunate because real estate sales, construction and retail are all struggling.

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