First fuselage is Navy's next-generation electronic attack
version of F-18
At a ceremony on
October 22 in the Boeing Company’s St. Louis
(MO) facility, Navy and industry leadership commemorated the
start up of the production line for the forward fuselage for EA-1,
the first EA-18G test aircraft being built under a system
development and demonstration (SDD) contract.
The EA-18G is the Navy’s next-generation electronic attack
aircraft and combines the combat-proven F/A-18 Super Hornet with a
state-of-the-art Improved Capability III (ICAP III) electronic
attack subsystem provided by Northrop Grumman Corporation. The
EA-18G will serve as the Navy’s replacement for the EA-6B
Prowler, providing a capability to detect, identify, locate and
suppress hostile emitters.
EA-1 will be the first of two test aircraft produced under the
SDD contract covering all laboratory, ground and
“Today marks a
noteworthy day in naval aviation history as the first EA-18G
officially commences on the Boeing production line,” said
Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR) F/A-18 and EA-18G Program
Manager Capt. B.D. Gaddis. “The joint Navy and industry team
has done a remarkable job of managing an aggressive acquisition
strategy that included achieving the best value for the government
by anticipating change instead of reacting to it. The EA-18G, like
the Super Hornet that precedes it, will be a great example of the
Navy's ability to operate on a joint, networked
During the ceremony, Capt. Mark Darrah, EA-18 Integrated Program
lead, signaled Boeing assembly line personnel to officially begin
production. Attendees watched as the first aluminum bulkhead was
hoisted up and installed into the forward fuselage of EA-1. The
radar ring bulkhead is a critical component of the forward
fuselage, providing support for the Advanced Electronically Scanned
Array (AESA) radar and the nose cone of the aircraft. This is the
first of many parts in the build cycle of the test aircraft,
scheduled to fly in September 2006.
“Congratulations on the progress you made here today,"
said Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs Rear
Adm. David Venlet. "All of your efforts are contributing to the
defense of freedom.”
Built on the same assembly line as the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet,
the EA-18G retains a high degree of commonality with the Super
Hornet. Boeing will begin assembly of the second test program
aircraft, EA-2, in the third quarter of 2005. Initial Operational
Capability for the EA-18G is scheduled for 2009.
Fifty-six EA-18Gs are included in a multi-year contract that was
signed with the Boeing Corporation in December 2003. The multi-year
procurement covers years from 2005-2009.