Electronic warfare version of Boeing F/A-18 combat jet finishes flight demonstration

DECEMBER 21, 11:57 EST

ST. LOUIS -- An F/A-18F Super Hornet equipped with three ALQ-99 jamming pods and two fuel tanks completed the initial flight demonstration of the Boeing EA-18 Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA) concept.

U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) officials are considering the EA-18, along with other platforms, as a replacement for the Navy's EA-6B Prowler electronic warfare aircraft by 2008.

"The EA-18 will perform full-spectrum electronic surveillance and electronic attack of enemy threat radars and communications nets," says Paul Summers, director for Boeing's F/A-18 derivative programs.

"The EA-18 leverages the U.S. Navy's investment in the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet platform and Northrop Grumman's Improved Capability III radar receiver system, which represents a significantly reduced risk approach over other unproven platforms and systems," he says.

Operating from an aircraft carrier or land-based airfield, the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet derivative would be tasked for a broad range of tactical missions. Boeing officials say they hope the EA-18's 99 percent commonality with the Super Hornet now in production will be a plus in the competition to replace the Prowler by offering the Navy reduced support and training costs.

The eight-year engineering design, development and test effort leading to the EA-18 has included new avionics and aircraft conceptual design, engineering analysis, high- and low-speed wind tunnel testing, electromagnetic interference/compatibility laboratory testing, antenna range testing and extensive crew-vehicle interface development. Boeing says the EA-18 could begin a system development and demonstration phase as early as 2003.

DOD is expected to announce the results of its analysis of alternatives for the AEA mission this month.

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