Stealth Is Overrated: This Plane Might be The Most Important to the U.S. Navy

Stealth Is Overrated: This Plane Might be The Most Important to the U.S. Navy

Sebastien Roblin


Meet the Growler. 

If Beijing wanted to, it could probably develop a carrier-based equivalent to the J-16D. The J-15 Flying Shark fighters on China’s two Type 001 carriers also share common heritage in the Flanker family of aircraft, and pursuing a similar upgrade of the two-seat J-15SD seems plausible. However, one limitation would be the lower payload that the J-15s can carry, due to the maximum takeoff weight limitations imposed by the Chinese carriers’ ski-jump-style decks. In any case, it is not even clear to what extent the J-16D will be adopted.

The United States Navy’s EA-18G Growler electronic attack fighters are one of a small number of military aircraft types dedicated to the task of jamming—and potentially destroying—hostile radars that could guide deadly surface-to-air missiles against friendly aircraft. This mission is known as Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD). Basically, if a modern air force wants to attack an adversary with significant antiaircraft defenses, it needs an effective SEAD game to avoid insupportable losses.

(This first appeared several months ago.)

The Growler is derived from the F-18 Super Hornet fighter, and is faster, more maneuverable, and more heavily armed than preceding aerial jamming platforms based on transport and attack planes. This allows the Growlers to contribute additional firepower to strike missions, keep up with fighter planes they are escorting, and potentially approach a bit closer to hostile air defenses.

China’s aviation engineers have never been too proud to copy a good idea from abroad, usually modified with “Chinese characteristics.” Perhaps it is not surprising that they appear to have devised a Growler of their own.

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