Garuda Growlers Go German…and points East

A Navy EA-18G Growler assigned to the “Garudas” Electronic Attack Squadron, VAQ 134, at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, flies over the flightline at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, May 4, 2021. Six such aircraft are expected to arrive at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, March 28, 2022 to support deterrence operations there. VIRIN: 210504-F-DU873-1049C

Six U.S. Navy EA-18G Growler aircraft of VAQ-134 (The Garudas) out of Naval Air Station Whidbey Island recently appeared at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, ready to ply their EW/SEAD trade if needed– which hopefully they won’t be.

As noted by the Navy, the Growler “integrates the latest electronic attack technology, including the ALQ-218 receiver, ALQ-99 tactical jamming pods, ALQ-227 Communication Countermeasures Set and Joint Tactical Terminal — Receiver satellite communications.

“About 240 Navy personnel, including maintainers and pilots, will accompany the aircraft to Germany. Those aircraft will remain based in Germany and are expected to fly missions in support of eastern flank deterrence and defense.”

VAQ-134 was originally commissioned on 7 June 1969 at NAS Alameda, flying the huge EA-3B Whale, then later transitioned to the EA-6B Prowler.

“Based on an old Hindu myth, the Garuda is the bird that took Wisnu, the God of War, wherever necessary in his quest to protect God’s creation from those evil forces that sought to upset and destroy it.”

The Garudas are termed an “expeditionary” electronic attack squadron that “deploys worldwide to support U.S. Air Force expeditionary wings, allied/coalition task forces, Marine aircraft groups, and U.S. Navy strike groups.”

This came about after the Air Force put their F-4G Wild Weasels and EF-111 Electric Ravens out to pasture in 1996, falling back on Navy and Marine Prowlers and/or tossing the occasional ALQ pod and HARM missile on F-16CJ/DJs (a concept which, as it turns out, didn’t work even against marginal adversaries without hiccups), as the Pentagon thought at the time advanced EW would be rarely needed short of suppressing Saddam’s battered post-Gulf War air defense net or some sort of strike against the Norks. Fast forward 25 years and it is a much different story.

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