Maiden flight for Growler

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Boeing yesterday flew the EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack (AEA) aircraft for the first time, approximately one month ahead of schedule.

Boeing says the first EA-18G, known as aircraft EA-1, completed its maiden flight from Lambert International Airport in St. Louis. Boeing F/A-18 chief test pilot Ricardo Traven and chief weapons system operator Rick Junkin conducted the first flight of the US Navy's newest AEA aircraft. EA-1 is the first of two test aircraft built under a System Development and Demonstration (SDD) contract Boeing signed with the Navy on December 29, 2003.

The aircraft will fly to Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, later this year. In addition to flight-testing, it will undergo extensive ground testing in the Patuxent River anechoic chamber to assess on-board radar, receiver and jammer compatibility and performance.

"This is a day we've been working toward since 2003," said Bob Feldmann, vice president, Boeing F/A-18 programs. "To see this aircraft flying is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but knowing the effort that so many people put into bringing the EA-18G to this milestone makes it even sweeter."

A derivative of the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet, the EA-18G's design enables the military to perform an array of AEA missions, operating from either the deck of an aircraft carrier or land-based airfields. The EA-18G will replace the Navy's current aircraft carrier based AEA platform, the EA-6B Prowler, that has been in service since 1971. The first production Growler will join the Navy's aircraft fleet in 2008.