An EA-18G Growler taxis down the airstrip on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island during the squadron’s welcome home ceremony in August 2017. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Wood/U.S. Navy)

An EA-18G Growler taxis down the airstrip on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island during the squadron’s welcome home ceremony in August 2017. (Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Scott Wood/U.S. Navy)

Whidbey Growlers fly to Germany to ‘bolster’ NATO against Russia

Six EA-18G Growler jets and 240 Navy personnel from NAS Whidbey headed to Europe on Monday.

Navy personnel from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island are taking part in military actions to help defend NATO’s eastern flank as Russia continues its attack on Ukraine.

Six EA-18G Growler jets and 240 Navy personnel from NAS Whidbey headed to Germany on Monday.

In coordination with the German government, the radar-ramming aircraft assigned to Electronic Attack Squadron 134 headed to Spangdahlem Air Base “to bolster readiness, enhance NATO’s collective defense posture and further increase air integration capabilities with Allied and Partner nations,” a base spokesman said in an email Monday.

The Oak Harbor Navy League pointed out how the Navy squadron was able to be ready almost overnight to help protect allies on the other side of the world.

“Whidbey Growlers are high demand and low density. Their highly specialized capability and aircrew expertise are essential to any deterrence and defense operations,” a statement from the Navy League said. “This is very short notice, and for the EA-18Gs in the Mediterranean, very long distance. Oak Harbor Navy League applauds the service and skill of NAS Whidbey Island squadrons, plus the sacrifice of their families.”

In addition, Growlers with VAQ-137 are part of the USS Harry Truman carrier strike group that has stayed in the Mediterranean to conduct enhanced air policing over Europe and to serve as a warning to Russia, the Navy News reported.

“NATO has nearly doubled the number of military combat aircraft on alert across Europe following Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine,” the National Interest reported. “One fear is that Russian aircraft flying in international airspace could escalate the conflict.”

Growlers are modified versions of F/A-18 Hornets and specialize in electronic warfare, using sensors to confuse enemy radars and air defense systems.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby discussed the Growlers Monday, saying the aircraft was “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,” he said.

This story originally appeared in the Whidbey News-Times, a sister publication to The Herald.

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