Golden Age Weaponsmiths EA-18G Growler (Block Three):

As with the F/A-18E/F, there were a number of potential upgrades for the Boeing electronic warfare aircraft. When the production of the F/A-18 was extended, it was decided to add additional squadrons of the Growler as well. Improvement worked into these were the addition of conformal fuel tanks and more powerful engines. A longer ranged and slightly faster aircraft resulted. While the “Block Three” Growler can also carry the ordnance pod, it is rarely carried because it reduces the number of jamming pods which can be carried. These electronic warfare aircraft served alongside the “Block Three” Super Hornets until they were retired.

When the revolution in super strong materials occurred, it was decided that it was not worth completely rebuilding these aircraft with new composites. Instead, even though relatively new, these aircraft were retired. They were however carefully mothballed in case they would even need to be reactivated. If anything, these Growlers were even more carefully mothballed than the “Block Three” Super Hornets. Eventually however they were pretty much forgotten.

Somehow a number of these electronic warfare aircraft survived the coming of the Rifts. It was in this forgotten state that the teams from Golden Age Weaponsmiths found these electronic warfare aircraft. Only a handful of these “Block Three” aircraft have been found, even less than the original Growler. Still, they were considered well worth refitting for sale to interested buyers.

Few other manufacturers produce electronic warfare aircraft. One of the few is the Metalworks Industries EF-500 Stormhawk and Metalworks has only started production. It is quite likely that they will only sell to very select clients as well. As a result, the EA-18G is extremely popular among customers interested in electronic warfare aircraft. The Coalition seems to have little interest in this kind of electronic warfare and has elected not to purchase any of these aircraft. The engineers at Golden Age Weaponsmiths are considering building a new fighter based on an Pre-Rifts fighter design. The F/A-18E/F is one of the more likely candidates. It is unknown if a Growler version will be produced as well if they do chose the F/A-18E/F.

The Growler is design to carry up to five ALQ-99 High Band / Low Band Jamming Pods with one in the centerline and two on each wing. Usually only three will be carried however. In most aircraft, these pods had to be reconditioned even though carefully stored. Potentially fewer can be carried although reduces the effectiveness of the jamming. The aircraft has nine hard points, instead of eleven as in the F/A-18E/F. The wingtip hard points are replaced by additional detection gear. When carrying all three jamming pods, the EA-18G still has two outer wing hard points, two inner wing, and two fuselage hard points. All of the aircraft's hard points are refitted to be able to carry standard missile types available on Rifts Earth. A common load out are medium range missiles on the fuselage hard points for air to air combat, fuel tanks on the inner wing hard points, and long range missiles for ground strikes on the outer wing hard points. The Growler does not carry the 20 mm Vulcan Gatling Gun which is carried on the standard F/A-18E/F.

The Growler does retain the AN/APG-79 actively scanned array radar. The radar can actually rapidly hop frequencies to see through its own radar jamming. It is also both hard to detect and hard to jam. The radar systems had to be reconditioned in a similar manner to the electronic warfare / jamming pods. Golden Age Weaponsmiths has far more experience reconditioning radar system however. Other electronic systems were refitted as well on the EA-18G Growler.

Identical to the engines on the “Block Three” Super Hornet, the twin General Electric F414-EPE engines carried on the “Block Three” Growler produce about twenty percent more thrust as well as being slightly more fuel efficient than the original F414-GE-400 engines. Even before being retired by the United States Navy, these engines were already being run on Bio Jet Fuel. The engines did need to be reconditioned in most cases, something which Golden Age Weaponsmiths has a lot of experience doing.

As with the F/A-18E/F, these aircraft are reconstructed with a stronger frame. As well, most of the skin of the aircraft is stripped from the electronic warfare aircraft and replaced by high strength composites. Few alloys are used because they are more radar reflective. Still, these aircraft are not as tough as a modern aircraft would likely be although far tougher than they were originally. There aircraft do technically retain the ability to take off and land from carriers although none of the current operators of these electronic warfare aircraft operate them from carriers.

Model Number: EA-18G (Block Three)
Vehicle Type: Twin Engine Electronic Warfare Aircraft
Crew: Two

M.D.C. by Location:

Conformal Fuel Tanks (2, above fuselage):40 each
Fuselage Missile Pod (1, centerline - optional):40
[1] Jamming Pods (5 maximum / 3 normal):40 each
[2] Wings (2):80 each
[3] Elevators (2):50 each
[3] Rudders (2):50 each
[4] Engines (2):120 each
Landing Gear (3):5 each
[5] Main Body:150

[1] The loss of a jamming pod will cause the jamming effect to be reduced by 5.8 miles (5 nautical miles / 9.3 km), 10% to radar system range. As well, the loss of a jamming pods will cause the loss of one to penalties against radar guided missiles.
[2] Destroying a wing will cause the plane to crash
[3] Destruction of rudders or one elevator will still allow the fighter to be controlled by the varying of power levels of the engines but the fighter has a penalty of -10 to dodge, and a -30% penalty to all piloting rolls. Destruction of both of the elevators will leave the plane uncontrollable and pilot must eject to survive.
[4] The destruction of one engine will reduce the fighter’s top speed by half and give the pilot a -2 penalty to dodge as well as giving a 10% penalty to piloting. Destruction of both engines will cause the aircraft to crash. Pilot may attempt an emergency landing or pilot can choose to eject.
[5] Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body will shut the aircraft down completely, rendering it useless and causing it to crash if in flight.

Driving on Ground (Taxiing): Only possible for take offs and landings as well as for parking and storage. Speed is 40 mph (64 kph) when traveling and not on take off or landing. Has a tail hook for carrier landings and designed to be catapult launched.
Flying: The “Block Three” Growler can reach a top speed of Mach 1.9 (1,223.4 knots /1,408.8 mph/ 2,267.2 kph) on full afterburner (the fighter can only last a few minutes at that speed and consumes most of the fuel.) Top speed is reduced by about 10% when fully loaded (Including Jamming Pods.) The fighter’s normal cruise speed is about 400 knots (460.6 mph / 741.3 kph) but varies on situation. The fighter has a maximum altitude of 50,000 feet (15,240 m)
Range: 1,326 nautical miles (1527 miles / 2,457.4 kilometers) with no external ordnance load on internal fuel only. Conformal fuel tanks increase range by 140 nautical miles (161.2 miles / 259.5 kilometers) each for 280 nautical miles (322.4 miles / 518.9 kilometers.) total for both. Can carry up to five external 480 gallon tanks in place of ordnance (Centerline and Wing hard points.) Each extends range by 130 nautical miles (149.7 miles / 240.9 kilometers.) Normally a maximum of three are carried unless in the refueling role. Reduce aircraft's range by 15% if partially loaded (two long range missiles, four medium range missile or eight short range missiles, or more - carry missile pod or a single jamming pod counts as partially loaded and carrying three or more jamming pods counts as fully loaded) and by 25% if fully loaded. The EA-18G Growler can be refueled in the air.

Statistical Data:
Height: 16 feet (4.88 meters)
Wingspan: 44 feet 8.5 inches (13.62 meters) including wingtip-mounted pods.
Length: 60 feet 1.25 inches (18.31 meters)
Weight: 33,094 pounds (15,011 kilograms) empty and 69,000 pounds (31,280 kilograms) fully loaded including conformal tanks.
Power System: Conventional, Two General Electric F414-EPE enhanced performance turbofan engines (16,800 lb dry thrust and 26,400 lbs thrust each on afterburner), uses aviation fuel
Cargo: Minimal (Storage for small equipment) in cockpit, does not include hard points.
Black Market Cost: 10.25 million credits (Can sometimes sell for double that price.)

Weapon Systems:

  1. Nine (9) Hard Points: The Growler has a total of nine hard points to carry ordinance, reduce from eleven on the Super Hornet. The aircraft has one hard point on the wing tips, three on each of the wings, one hard point on either side of the fuselage, and one centerline. Below is a list of hard points and the loads that they can carry. Missiles, rocket packs, and bombs can be mixed or matched but all ordnance on a hard point must be the same type. The missile pod is only carried on the central hard point.
    Centerline Hard Point: Fuel tanks, ALQ-99 jamming pod, missile pod, missiles/bombs (one long range /heavy, two medium range/medium, or four short range/light each.) Originally designed to carry ALQ-99 jamming pod missile pod, heavy bombs, or fuel tanks.
    Outer Fuselage Hard Points (2): Missiles only (one medium range missile or two short range missiles each.) Originally designed to carry the Sparrow and AMRAAM missiles.
    Inner Wing Hard Points (2): Fuel tanks, ALQ-99 jamming pod, towed decoy, rocket packs, or missiles/bombs (one long range/heavy, two medium range/medium, or four short range/light each.) Originally designed to carry fuel tanks, heavy bombs, JSOW`s, Harpoons, HARMs, Mavericks, Sparrows, AMRAAMs, and Sidewinder missiles.
    Middle Wing Hard Points (2): Fuel tanks, ALQ-99 jamming pod, towed decoy, rocket packs, or missiles/bombs (one long range /heavy, two medium range/medium, or four short range/light each.) Originally designed to carry fuel tanks, heavy bombs, Harpoons, HARMs, Mavericks, Sparrows, AMRAAMs, and Sidewinder missiles.
    Outer Wing Hard Points (2): Towed decoy, rocket packs, or missiles/bombs (one medium range/medium, or two short range/light each.) Originally designed to carry HARMs, Mavericks, Sparrows, AMRAAMs, and Sidewinder missiles.
    1. Centerline Missile Pod: Special pod designed to be carried on the centerline of the fighter. It is designed to carry ordnance while keeping the fighter with a low radar cross signature. It is designed to carry either four medium range missiles or eight short range missiles. Usually medium range missiles are carried in the centerline pod. In two pilot versions, missiles are controlled by either the pilot or the weapons officer.
      Maximum Effective Range: Varies by short or medium range missile type for missile (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
      Mega Damage: Varies by short or medium range missile type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
      Rate of Fire: Missiles can be fired one at a time or in volleys of two (2) or four (4) but must be the same size (light or medium).
      Payload: Eight (8) short range missile or four (4) medium range missiles in pod.
    2. Bombs and Missiles: The only restriction is that a hard point must carry all the same type of missiles or bombs. Both unguided and guided bombs can be carried. In two pilot versions, missiles are controlled by either the pilot or the weapons officer.
      Maximum Effective Range: Varies by missile type for missile and varies by altitude bombs are dropped at (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
      Mega Damage: Varies by missile or bomb type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
      Rate of Fire: Missiles can be fired and bombs can be dropped one at a time per hard point. Multiple hard points can be linked as one attack but must be the same size (light, medium, or heavy) and style of ordnance (all missiles or bombs in a volley.)
      Payload: Varies by hard point (see above - all ordnance on a hard point must be the same size and type of ordnance).
    3. Mini-Missile Pod: Large capacity mini-missile pod. The mini missile pods are normally carried for ground strafing, anti-troop, and anti-emplacement attacks. Normal missile used are armor piercing, plasma, or fragmentation mini-missiles. In two pilot versions, mini missile pods are controlled by the pilot.
      Maximum Effective Range: Varies with missile types, mini-missiles only (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
      Damage: Varies with mini-missile types (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)
      Rate of Fire: Each pod can fire missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), eight (8), or sixteen (16 - all.) and can be linked with other mini missile pods for greater number of missiles (Counts as one attack no matter how many missiles in volley.)
      Payload: Each pod carries sixteen (16) mini-missiles.
    4. ALQ-99 Airborne Integrated Jamming System: Up to five pods are carried for full effectiveness although three is normally carried. The system is designed to intercepting, automatically processing and jamming received radio frequency signals (Radio and radar.) Aircraft's radar is designed to be able to hop frequencies so that it is not jammed by the jamming pods.
      Maximum Effective Range: One pod has a effective radius of 20 nautical miles (23.0 miles / 37.1 kilometers) with each additional pod increasing range by 5 nautical mile (5.8 miles / 9.3 kilometers) radius per additional jamming pod.
      Effects: When activated, radio communications, radars, and electromagnetic sensors are reduced in range by 35% for one pod and 10% for each additional pod to a maximum of 75% (55% normal) when within jamming area. In addition, radar systems will have a -25% penalty to detect all targets within their reduced range. Laser communications and light-based sensors are unaffected by the jamming pods. Jamming also creates a penalty of -4 for one pod and -1 for each additional pod for a maximum penalty of -8 (-6 normally) to all radar guided weapons within the jamming area. Some missile will home on jamming and will go after aircraft carrying them.
    5. Towed Decoys (4): The pod takes place of all ordnance on the hard point. The aircraft can carry a special pod that carries four advanced towed decoy drones. These drones are dragged about 328 feet (100 meters) behind the aircraft on a thin cable. Each is a specially designed radar lure that creates a radar image to mimic the aircraft. If decoys are not destroyed, they can be recovered and repaired. Rifts Earth decoy systems are assumed to not operate against Phase World weapons due to technological difference.
      M.D.C.: 5 each
      Effects: The decoy has an 65% chance of fooling ordinary non military radars and non smart guided missiles, the decoy has a 35% chance of fooling military level radars (like those of the Coalition), and the decoy has a 10% chance of fooling advanced military radars (Like those of the New Navy and Triax) and smart missiles.
      Range: Not Applicable although the decoy is deployed 328 feet (100 meters) from the aircraft
      Rate of fire: One can be deployed at a time and requires 15 seconds to deploy (Reel Out) another decoy
      Payload: Four (4) Decoys each pod.
  2. One (1) Anti-Missile Chaff/Flare Dispenser: Use the same effects as the TRIAX model. However, each time the system is engaged, the system fires off one chaff and 1D4 flares. Rifts Earth decoy systems are assumed to not operate against Phase World missiles due to technological difference. Reduce effects by 20% against smart missiles (Add +20% to rolls for smart missiles.)
      01-50 Enemy missile or missile volley detonates in chaff cloud - Missiles are all destroyed.
      51-75 Enemy missile or missile volley loses track of real target and veers away in wrong direction (May lock onto another target.)
      76-00 No effect, enemy missile or missile volley is still on target.
    Also note that the chaff cloud will also blind flying monsters that fly through cloud. They will suffer the following penalties: reduce melee attacks/actions, combat bonuses, and speed by half. Duration: 1D4 melee rounds.
    Payload: 25 chaff, 50 flares. Each time the system is engaged, the system fires off one chaff and 1D4 flares.

Special Equipment:
The equipment of the fighter has been upgraded but many of the original systems are still on the fighter. Consider the fighter to carry all standard equipment that robot vehicles carry (not including loudspeaker and microphone) plus the following extra systems:

Combat Bonuses:

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Original writup of the F/A-18E/F by Mischa (E-Mail Mischa)

E/A-18G writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2011, Mischa & Kitsune. All rights reserved.