PBY luncheon offers Growler education

Bob Papadakis, right, Boeing’s Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Integration Lead for the EA-18G Growler, sits next to Major Svend Raun CD, the secretary-treasurer of the Military Ball Committee before Papadakis speaks about the Growler, or Grizzly, as it is known on aircraft carriers. The men attended the PBY Memorial Foundation luncheon at the Chief’s Club on Ault Field Road in Oak Harbor May 24. Dennis Connolly/Whidbey Crosswind

The PBY Memorial Foundation met May 24 at the CPO Club, for a luncheon, announcements and a speech by Bob Papadakis, Boeing’s Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Integration Lead for the EA-18G Growler.

President Win Stites introduced the day’s speaker, Bob Papadakis, Naval Academy graduate and Navy veteran of 23 years.

Papadakis was a bombardier/navigator in the A-6 Intruder and an electronic countermeasures officer in the EA-6B and commanded VAQ-133.

He completed his career as requirements officer for the EA-6B and the EA-18G on the Chief of Operations staff in the Pentagon.

Papadakis was engaged in the EA-18G program in St. Louis, then transferred to Washington to establish the Growler Support Center at NAS Whidbey.
He said the delivery of Growlers, or Grizzly, as the plane is called on aircraft carriers, is critical to the Navy’s transition plan.

“They are transitioning two to three squadrons a year and we have delivered every EA-18G early, or on time,” Papadakis said, “Reducing their risk in transition and providing them operational flexibility.”

Derived from the combat proven F/A-18F, the Growler has more than 90 percent in common with the standard Super Hornet.
It is an electronic attack version with flight performance similar to that of the F/A-18E/F.

This allows the Growler to perform escort jamming as well as the traditional standoff jamming mission. The Growler will be able to accompany F/A-18s during all phases of an attack mission.

Papadakis said the plane can continually do updates on a target, have a data link capability and can pass information between aircraft for tactical updates.

He also said the unrefueled combat radius with two fuel tanks and a pod load is approximately 500 miles but the EA-18G is capable of air-to-air refueling as well.

PBY Memorial Foundation member Will Stein said later that it was a good education.

“It was very informative, very high-tech but he made it understandable visually through his slides,” Stein said. “It’s more capable, newer systems — more capable than the Prowler.

If the Navy’s current plan stays in place, the Growler will eventually replace the Prowler.

“The Prowler was a good airplane and brought us home safe,” Papadakis said. “But it was time for a new aircraft.”

More than 30 people were in attendance and enjoyed lunch, laughter and memories of past shipmates like Russ Jacabson. He ferried troops to distant island beaches during World War II and retired as a full commander after 28 years.

In regular PBY Memorial Foundation business, Stites said the table and tent the organization had at Holland Happening was more profitable this year than last, dirt streets and all.