Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said on March 28 that the EA-18G Growler electronic warfare (E.W.) aircraft that the U.S. is deploying to Germany would not be used against Russian forces in Ukraine.
“They are not being deployed to be used against Russian forces in Ukraine. They are being deployed strictly as part of our efforts to build NATO’s deterrence and defense capabilities along the eastern flank,” the U.S. military spokesman explained.
Deployment of EA-18G Growler in Germany
Kirby added that U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft deployment to Germany is not a response to any “threat or incident.”
The six Boeing EA-18 Growler fighter jets of the U.S. Navy would be relocated from the northwestern state of Washington with around 240 personnel from the United States to the Spangdahlem base in Rhineland-Palatinate, explained Defense Ministry spokesman John Kirby.
According to Kirby, the fighter jets are helpful, for example, to disable the air defenses of an enemy state. Kirby emphasized that the aircraft should strengthen NATO’s eastern flank and act as a deterrent to Russia. The transfer was coordinated with the German federal government.
Germany’s E.W. aircraft requirement
Electronic Warfare planes were a part of German’s requirement that could potentially drop atomic bombs. Germany has announced the acquisition of F-35A Lightning aircraft for the nuclear bombing role.
Germany had budgeted for 15 EA-18G Growler aircraft or Eurofighter modified for E.W. requirements.
Eurofighter has not yet modified the planes for E.W. purposes, and Germany is left with no other option but EA-18G Growler. The Eurofighter electronic combat role (ECR) concept was proposed by the German Airbus unit and is delayed.
The deployment of Growlers by the U.S. in Germany could be seen as a part of training the Luftwaffe crew. It appears that Germany has purchased the Growlers as a package with F-35. Both the countries have not disclosed the details of the deal yet.
Potential industrial cooperation on EA-18G Growler
In January, it was reported that the U.S. aerospace and armaments group Boeing intends to expand its industrial partnerships in the country if the Bundeswehr decides to procure F/A-18 Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft. A corresponding request for information (RFI) was sent to more than ten German companies, wrote Boeing in a recent press release.
The aim is to close far-reaching new industrial partnerships to support a potential fleet of Boeing aircraft for the Bundeswehr. The company wrote that the German industrial partners would play an essential role in supporting the equipment, logistics and overall maintenance, components, training, local maintenance programs, and other relevant repair and overhaul solutions for Luftwaffe’s Super Hornet and Growler machines.
The announcement came days after reports that the German Defense Ministry might reconsider the procurement of F-35 fighter jets. The last federal government had ruled out the F-35 stealth plane from Boeing’s competitor Lockheed Martin as a replacement for the aged Tornados in the role of carrying nuclear weapons. Most recently, the F-35 had prevailed against the F/A-18 and European competition in procurement projects in Switzerland and Finland. In order to carry U.S. nuclear weapons, the Super Hornet would have to be specially certified on behalf of the Bundeswehr, while the F-35 is already intended for this role.
The Boeing release says that the German industry could also participate in the development of the next generation of jammers (Next Generation Jammer/NGJ) for the EA-18G Growler.
Boeing had argued that the combination of F/A-18 Super Hornet Block III and EA-18G Growler offers proven capabilities, acquisition costs and a low life cycle. The aircraft has the lowest operating costs of all U.S. tactical aircraft, about 17,000 euros per flight hour, as per the Special Acquisition Report of the U.S. Department of Defense. The Super Hornet, combined with low procurement costs, would save Germany several billion euros over its entire service life, which is more than 10,000 flight hours compared to comparable systems.