“Front line” is a term that really doesn’t mean anything anymore, but over the skies of Libya, the US Navy has been deploying a squadron of EA-18 “Growler” planes to jam ground radar. The EA-18, a specially modified F/A-18F designed to replace the 40 year old EA-6B Prowler, essentially clears the air for slower moving bombers to come in without fear of ground retaliation.
In a time when defense spending is being scrutinized, electronic warfare is one of the few areas that can save the Pentagon money. If the Growler accompanies the NATO bombers and fighters into a strike, it jams the ground radar by spraying radio waves across a wide range of frequencies. This makes any signals that are received difficult to interpret by radar equipment, and masks the approach of air strikes.
Since the EA-18 shares over 90% of its construction with the F/A-18, it has a very similar flight pattern. This allows for the plane to fly in with a fighter escort, and should anything go down, it can juke and jive its way outta Dodge. Not limited to carrying electronic jamming equipment, the Growler can carry two self defense Air-to-Air AMRAAM missles, and two AGM-88 Anti-Radiation missles, designed to target ground radar sites and take them out.
So what does all this mean to Johnny Fussybudget? It means that this plane saves money by saving other planes from being detected and shot down. Want proof? In Libya, NATO has conducted over 5000 air strike missions, and hasn’t lost a single aircraft to Kadafi’s ground fire.