Ukraine needs air supremacy to defeat the Russians. Currently, Russian air defenses impede Ukraine’s ability to pound their troops on the ground in support of advancing infantry and armor. Russia’s control of the sky is Ukraine’s major problem.
Consequently, the U.S. government should consider offering Ukraine the EA-18G Growler, a variant of the F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, to help the F-16s that the Ukrainians have on order punch holes through Russia’s front lines.
The EA-18G retains many of the fighter combat capabilities of the Super Hornet but carries a robust suite of electronic warfare equipment to blind enemy radars and sensors while carrying AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles. The AGM-88 can hit radars and anti-aircraft installations from as far as 30 miles away. It also carries the AIM-120 AMRAAM for dogfighting thus making it a potent threat to air-based and ground-based anti-aircraft defenses.
“In surveillance-only configuration, the Growler is armed with two AIM-120 air-to-air missiles for self-defence. For stand-off jamming and escort jamming missions, the Growler is armed with two AGM-88 anti-radiation missiles plus two AIM-120 missiles,” Naval Technology notes. “In strike configuration, the Growler is armed with two each of AGM-88 HARM missiles, AGM-154 JSOW joint stand-off weapon (block 2 aircraft) and AIM-120 air-to-air missiles. While carrying out active transmitting jamming, the Block 2 aircraft has the ability to hand off-target data to other airborne, land or surface attack platforms.”
This would give Ukraine a serious overmatch capability compared with the Russians.
Pending EA-18G Growler Retirement Offers Unique Opportunity for Ukraine
Its manufacturer Boeing notes the “EA-18G Growler is the most advanced airborne electronic attack (AEA) platform and is the only one in production today.”
Currently, only the U.S. Navy operates the Growler and is looking to turn the planes into mothballs, which offers an opportunity for Ukraine to acquire the jets that first entered service in 2008.
“The SEAPOWER site (official publications of the U.S. Navy League) reports that the five squadrons include a total of 25 EA-18G Growlers that would be stored at the Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona, half in FY2024 and half in FY2025,” AVACIONONLINE reported.
This provides a perfect opportunity for Ukraine to obtain these fighters through the Presidential Drawdown Authority and put them into potent use against Russia.
The 1991 Persian Gulf War Offers Lesson for Ukrainian Strategy
The lessons of the 1991 Persian Gulf War seem forgotten. Saddam Hussein’s army relied on many of the same weapons systems such as the T-72 and tactics that their Russian patrons have employed in Ukraine, namely dug-in defenses and fortifications.
During the 1991 war, the U.S. Air Force used now retired F-4G Wild Weasel jets equipped with electronic warfare jammers and armed with AGM-88 HARM anti-radiation missiles made quick work of Iraqi radar installations and anti-aircraft systems.
Wild Weasel aircraft conducted “3,942 combat sorties, fired 1,000 air-to-ground missiles, and destroyed 200 Iraqi missile sites” during the month-and-a-half war.
The U.S. Air Force first developed tactics and deployed them during the 1960s in the Vietnam War. The Wild Weasel aircraft open corridors for the bombers to follow and wreak havoc on troops on the ground
War planners seem to be thinking without a coherent strategy or a plan to help Ukraine win a decisive victory and seem to be just throwing things at the Russians without a plan. Throwing wonder weapons such as the ATACMS, HIMARS, Abrams tank, Storm Shadow cruise missile at the Russians absent a strategy for decisive airpower will be a waste.
Strategic thinking requires the right mix of weapons and capabilities in pursuit of the strategic goal.
The soon-to-be retired EA-18G Growler is the just the kind of aircraft Ukraine needs to achieve its strategic goals.
John Rossomando is a defense and counterterrorism analyst and served as Senior Analyst for Counterterrorism at The Investigative Project on Terrorism for eight years. His work has been featured in numerous publications such as The American Thinker, The National Interest, National Review Online, Daily Wire, Red Alert Politics, CNSNews.com, The Daily Caller, Human Events, Newsmax, The American Spectator, TownHall.com, and Crisis Magazine. He also served as senior managing editor of The Bulletin, a 100,000-circulation daily newspaper in Philadelphia, and received the Pennsylvania Associated Press Managing Editors first-place award for his reporting.
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