Boeing has announced that it recently conducted
an experiment together with the U.S Navy in which an EA-18G Growler controlled two other
EA-18Gs flying missions semi-autonomously. The company stated that the aircraft operated
from Naval Air Station Patuxent River and the trial run was carried out as part of the
Navy Warfare Development Command’s annual fleet experiment (FLEX) exercises. Boeing but did not reveal the exact date when
this was conducted. The flights were intended to prove that F/A-18
Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers can effectively run combat missions using unmanned systems. This opens the door for many new prospects
– manned aircraft working together with unmanned once in combat and even a future pilotless
avatar of current manned aircraft flying independently. In this video Defense Updates analyzes why
demo flight of semi-autonomous EA-18G Growler aircraft is one of the most important developments
of recent times? Let’s get started This video is sponsored by War Thunder. If you are, like us, fascinated by military
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20 million players from all over the world! Area-denial and anti-access (AD/A2) system
deny U.S. forces the ability to come within hundreds or even thousands of miles of an
enemy’s territory. Today these high-end capabilities are being
developed and deployed by countries like China and Russia, but they will soon be available
to others as well. These capabilities include advanced integrated
air defense systems with long-range engagement capabilities able to target and shoot down
aircraft from hundreds of miles away, as well as increasingly capable ballistic missiles
that can put America’s fixed installations and even US carrier strike groups at risk
throughout an entire region. A country with a strong AD/A2 capability has
basically created an invisible fortress wall that can be pushed out thousands of miles
from its territorial borders. For example, Russia has developed S 400 Triumf
which is considered to be one of the most difficult systems to negotiate for an aircraft. The S-400 is an anti-aircraft weapon system
developed in the 1990s by Russia’s Almaz Central Design Bureau as an upgrade of the S-300 family. It has been in service with the Russian Armed
Forces since 2007. The system has a tracking range of around
600 km or around 370 miles and can intercept targets 400 km or 250 miles away. These kinds of systems are a major threat
for 4th generation aircraft and can even make things difficult for the 5th generation once. One of the most effective ways to counter
air defense systems is to employ Electronic Warfare and this is where Growler comes into
the picture. EA-18G Growler specialized version of the
two-seat F18 Super Hornet for Electronic Warfare. The EA-18G replaced the Northrop Grumman EA-6B
Prowlers in service with the United States Navy. The Growler’s electronic warfare capability
is primarily provided by Northrop Grumman. The EA-18G began production in 2007 and entered
operational service with the US Navy in late 2009. The Growler has more than 90% components in
common with the standard Super Hornet, sharing airframe, Raytheon AN/APG-79 AESA radar and
weapon systems such as the AN/AYK-22 store management system. Most of the dedicated airborne electronic
attack equipment is mounted on a plate in the space that used to house the internal
20 mm cannon and on the wingtips. Nine weapons stations remain free to provide
for additional weapons or jamming pods. The added electronics include AN/ALQ-218 wideband
receivers on the wingtips and ALQ-99 high and low-band tactical jamming pods. The ALQ-218 combined with the ALQ-99 forms
a full spectrum electronic warfare suite that is able to provide detection and jamming against
all known surface-to-air threats. The EA-18G can be fitted with up to five ALQ-99
jamming pods and will typically add two AIM-120 AMRAAM or AGM-88 HARM missiles. Growler a range of 1,275 nm or 2,346 km and
a combat radius of 390 nm or 722 km. Tom Brandt, Boeing’s Manned-Unmanned Teaming
demonstration lead, said in a statement. “This demonstration allows Boeing and the
Navy the opportunity to analyze the data collected and decide where to make investments in future
technologies. It could provide synergy with other U.S. Navy
unmanned systems in development across the spectrum and in other services.” He added, “This technology allows the Navy to extend
the reach of sensors while keeping manned aircraft out of harm’s way. It’s a force multiplier that enables a single
aircrew to control multiple aircraft without greatly increasing workload. It has the potential to increase survivability
as well as situational awareness.” Boeing state that the experiment consisted
of a total of four flights, during which the three EA-18Gs performed 21 “demonstration
missions,” in total. As per reports, pilots were on board the two
Growlers that flew semi-autonomous during the experiments and mainly took care of takeoffs
and landings and otherwise acting as backups in case of system failures. It is unclear what kind of mission was executed
as part of the experiment, it is likely that they may have involved simulated electronic
warfare sorties against mock threats. The main objective seems to be to validate
the capability of manned EA-18G to direct and coordinate the activities of the other
two semi-autonomous aircraft. The U.S is not the only one thinking along
these lines. The Russian Defense Ministry announced last
year that Russia’s latest heavy attack drone ‘Okhotnik’ meaning Hunter has performed
its first flight with the Su-57 fighter jet. The ministry said, “The Okhotnik unmanned
aerial vehicle has performed its first joint flight with a fifth-generation Su-57 plane,” It was reported that the flight was conducted
in the automated mode. The ministry stated that “As part of the
ongoing test program, the Okhotnik drone performed a flight in the automated mode in its full
configuration, entering the airborne alert area,”. The ministry added that during the flight,
the drone and the Su-57 fighter practiced interaction “to broaden the fighter’s
radar coverage and to provide target acquisition for employing air-launched weapons” U.S Navy operates 10 Nimitz class supercarriers
and is in the process of inducting Ford class supercarriers. So, it is clear that American supercarriers
will be operating in the foreseeable future. Each of these can carry more than 60 aircraft
and one of the most important components of the flight group is the EA-18G G Growlers. Linking the jets together with small groups
of unmanned platforms with their own sensors and electronic warfare packages will significantly
enhance the operational flexibility. This demonstration means that in future the
U.S Navy could deploy the unmanned Growlers in risky airspaces to clear the path for manned
once as well as other fighters and bombers. It is important to note that US Navy along
with industry partners like Northrop Grumman is developing small drones carrying electronic
warfare equipment that can be deployed in swam mode which the EA-18Gs could deploy using
modified air-launched canisters. This means that a group of manned and unmanned
EA-18G could someday work together and deploy hundreds of these drones to confuse and distract
hostile air defenses. This will be a significant step towards countering
modern integrated highly capable air defenses.


  1. that's because avatar like drone fighters will eventually become the normal operation starting in the US and copied by everyone else:)


    As you always embarrassing Russian technology, why don’t you do a video on this sucker

  3. Automatic Pilot! How much is automatic and how much is Pilot continues to develop. Interesting! Nice heads up! 1973 I got what I begged my dad for……Aurora’s Ready Ranger! I was 8. Became a SERE instructor!

  4. Some of the Russian jamming drones will also be needed to mask the radar cross-section of the SU-57, which looks like a flying dump truck on AN/SPY-1.

  5. The unmanned EA Growlers can also be used to deliver tactical nukes in heavily defended, AA/AD areas. They could use their electronic warfare capability to suppress and penetrate enemy airspace to complete their missions that even stealthy aircraft like the F35s may not succeed.

  6. The rise of autonomous machines has come….
    First America employed precision weapons, then standoff weapons with drones like Predators/Reapers and soon more standoff (unmanned) machines are on their way…..

  7. Being a fighter pilot in the 21st century is a risky business; in the end most systems could very well be automated. Come to think of it the US still has what it takes. Wake-up call to Russia and perhaps China as well!

  8. Wowwwwwwww Thank You Very And So Much The Music Pin Pin Piniiiiinnnnnn Iam So Good Its Amazing The Power The United States Of America Around The World I Love You

  9. This gowler can kill s 500 and hq9 missiles sites with agm 158 cruise missile at long range without pilots in danger zone

  10. I find it odd that the Russian aircraft is called Hunter. It gives new meaning to the question, Where’s Hunter?

  11. In the neverending swinging pendulum of attacker-defender advnatage, drone swarm technologies definitly reach the apex of attacker advantage.
    a drone swarm of even simple slow flying suicide drones in the hunderds can overwhelm any existing AD/A2 system. couple that with jamming and other electronic warfare, and you get an unstoppable force.
    Kinda like a protoss carrier rush.

  12. That's something Russia and China struggle to do. Mass modern integration. It takes a long time and ability to develop with a lot of money.

  13. The Air Force and Navy used hundreds of F4 Phantoms as "Drones", QF4's for aerial combat practice with other fighters and ground fired missile systems.

  14. Days of manned aircraft are numbered because not a lot of people are fit to fly. Not necessarily out of shape. But eye sight issues. I had great eye sight when I started but when I retired from the USAF I began to notice major changes after 35. So going autonomous isn't surprising to make up for departing pilots. Pilots make a good living and they save that money to put it into such projects.

  15. The USAF should add electronic warfare and remote piloting capabilities to the F-15EX and buy 400 of them. Also buy 400 F-15CX for patrol, escort, interception, and fire support duties. USAF lost their own dedicated EW platform with the retirement of the EA-111 Raven. Multirole F-15EX with EW capabilities could bring that back, while maintaining flexibility for other tasks.

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