The US Navy has deployed six EA-18G Growler aircraft to Germany, where they will enhance NATO’s collective defense posture in the region following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
The aircraft deployed from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, and arrived at Spangdahlem Air Base in Germany on Monday.
These Growlers, assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 134 (VAQ-134) – also known as the “Garudas,” are equipped for a variety of missions but they specialize in flying electronic warfare missions, using a suite of jamming sensors to confuse enemy radars, greatly aiding in the ability to conduct suppression of enemy air defense operations.
They will be accompanied by about 240 air crew, aircraft maintainers, and pilots.
Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby noted that the aircraft are not being deployed to be used against Russian forces in Ukraine.
“They are being deployed completely in keeping with our efforts to bolster NATO’s deterrence and defense capabilities along that eastern flank. The deployment is not in response to a perceived threat or incident,” Kirby said.
“As we have said all along, the Secretary wants to keep options open. He is in constant consultations with General Wolters, and as a result of discussions with General Wolters, as well as the German government, this was deemed to be an additional move that could continue to bolster our deterrence and reinforce our defenses on the eastern flank. This deployment is a prudent decision to continue to reevaluate our force posture on NATO’s eastern flank.”
Navy Capt. Christopher M. Bahner, who serves as commander of Electronic Attack Wing Pacific, said the team from VAQ-134 is prepared to carry out whatever mission is asked of them while in Germany.
“I am extremely proud of the men and women in VAQ-134,” Bahner said. “The Garuda’s have performed exceptionally well during their planned work-up cycle and stand ready to support U.S. expeditionary and allied task forces in Europe. Expeditionary EA-18G squadrons integrate with joint and coalition forces to provide our commanders capabilities to defend our forces in all potential phases of operation, while allowing our Carrier Air Wing EA-18G squadrons to remain at sea, defending freedom of navigation with our carrier strike group teams.”
The Growlers are joining US Air Force F-35A fighters already deployed to the Spangdahlem Air Base. USAF personnel from the active duty 388th and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing arrived in Germany on February 16, from where they are conducting operations in the Baltic and Black Sea regions.