St. Louis Business Journal Op-Ed on the E/A-18G Growler
Keeping the Growler Online
By: Rep. Ann Wagner
St. Louis has long been known for building envelope-pushing fighter jets like the F-4 Phantom, F-15 and F/A-18 Super Hornet. But the latest fighter jet out of St. Louis, the E/A-18G Growler, a derivative of the Super Hornet, is more "James Bond" than "Top Gun" - capable of disrupting radars, jamming enemy communications and leading our military's sophisticated electronic attack. These are the next-generation capabilities that are beginning to define the air battles of the future.
Unfortunately, shortsighted budget cuts now threaten to shut down the Super Hornet / Growler production line, despite a possible emerging requirement for 50-100 additional Growlers in the future. A lack of these aircraft-- which directly impact 13,000 jobs and 91 suppliers, for an economic impact of $640 million annually in Missouri - will cede the new electronic battlefield to our adversaries and expose American aircraft to enemy weapons.
As a result, I have been fighting relentlessly to not only protect our national security, but our local economic security as well. In St. Louis alone, there are over 5,000 Boeing employees that work on the Super Hornet. That is why I have been pounding the pavement in support of the Growler by testifying in front of the House Armed Services Committee and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense in support of keeping this production line open.
Naval commanders have called the Growler a "game-changing" aircraft, [] one that is an unmet priority for our military. In fact, the Chief of Naval Operations has included 22 Growlers on the U.S. Navy's unfunded priorities list for this budget year, highlighting the immediate need for more of this critical electronic attack capability. And it’s one of the few new military aircraft in recent years that have been delivered on time and on budget. That’s why I authored a letter with Representative Lacy Clay, where 51 Members of Congress inked their support for the full complement of 22 EA-18G Growlers.
Since the Growler will remain a required escort for nearly every combat mission now and through 2040, it’s imperative that we support this vital program and maintain our military readiness. By jamming enemy radar and sensors and attacking the computer networks that connect them, the Growler creates an electronic fog around American aircraft, keeping them safe from surface-to-air missiles or enemy fighters. As a mother of a soldier currently serving in the 101st Airborne, I want a Growler there in the combat theater to support the mission and return our troops home safely. Congress must provide funding for this critical military asset.