The Navy temporarily grounded its fleet of F/A-18 E/F/ Super Hornets and E/A-18G Growlers following what officials call an “on-deck emergency” Friday morning in western Washington.
A Navy Growler assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 132 — the “Scorpions” — was damaged and both of its aircrew suffered unspecified injuries during the incident that occurred at the Whidbey Island air station on Puget Sound around 11 a.m. Friday, according to a Navy statement released before dawn on Saturday.
A Whidbey Island search and rescue helicopter raced them to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle for evaluation. Because the advanced Boeing Super Hornets and Growlers rely on common aircraft systems, Vice Adm. Mike Shoemaker — commander of Naval Air Forces on North Island — temporarily suspended flight operations for both types of jets.
Exceptions, however, will be made “on a case-by-case basis dependent upon operational requirements,” according to the statement.
Boeing engineers and Naval Air Systems Command are probing the cause of the incident.
A two-seat version of the Super Hornet, the carrier-based Growler is an electronic warfare aircraft that began replacing Northrop Grumman’s EA-6B Prowlers in 2009.
Flying alongside Super Hornet multirole fighters, it can jam enemy signals, fool radar systems and detect incoming missiles.
The temporary pause on Growler and Super Hornet operations will not affect squadrons in the San Diego area.