Piczookery: F-4G Wild Weasels

A pair of 35th Tactical Fighter Wing F-4G Phantom II aircraft pass over the Saudi desert while on a training flight during Operation Desert Shield. The aircraft are carrying external fuel tanks on their outboard wing pylons and AGM-88 HARM high-speed anti-radiation missiles on their inboard wing pylons. Date Shot: 11 Jan 1991

Wild Weasels bait you into turning on your radars. Then they blow you to hell. F-16CJ aircraft have taken over the Wild Weasel role from the F-4Gs.

Question: Will the EA-18G “Growler” be a Wild Weasel? I realize that its primary mission is Airborne Electronic Attack (AEA), but it seems to me that the HARM missiles teamed with the electronic warfare sensor suite would make it an ideal Suppression of Enemy Air Defenses (SEAD) platform, as well. Plus, it’s a ‘G’ model.

Secondary (and related) question: Will the EA-18G carry the AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System (HTS)? It seems like it probably should be able to, but I can’t find anything on it. Or is this capability built in (or surpassed by) the Growler’s other systems?


  1. Will the EA-18G ‘Growler’ be a Wild Weasel? I’m talking out of my hat but since you asked … no? Only that EAA birds are expensive and they don’t make many of them. But hey – I’m just a grunt and don’t know nuthin’.

  2. Brian: I think you’re probably right. But it also seems that the Growler has all the tools to be a top-notch Wild Weasel if they’d want it to be. I’m just wondering about how they’ll actually use it and how well it could do the job if called on. The Growler will have speed and maneuverability that the Prowler doesn’t. Since it appears that most of the Navy’s airpower missions are going to be against land targets, usually in support of troops on the ground, having their own Wild Weasel would make sense.

  3. Perhaps the USAF Wild Weasel Community may want to comment on the passing of the hat (as it were….) to the Squids! When it comes to airmanship, collectively the missions of these dudes in WW Vietnam were and still are astonishing. Think about ‘First In, Last Out.’

  4. The Wild Weasel role is best taken by a UCAV. It would be a waste to put a Growler in that role. Personally I’m not sold on the Growler, that is lot to put on two men. Will the Growler carry the AN/ASQ-213 HARM Targeting System, I doubt it. The Growler can carry HARMS and the AESA radar is being used for ground attack. In any event the HTS is being replaced by the Sniper system. So it really would not make that much sense for the Navy to take on yesterday’s pods (though you could make a good cost argument.)

  5. FA-18s already carry and have carried HARM. Standard SEAD mix for USN is EA6B with pair of FA-18 loaded with HARM. Why would they take the HARM capability away when they add the jammers?

  6. They’ll have a hard time replacing the F-4 as a wild weasel airplane. The F-16 might fill the slot, but it doesn’t fill the shoes. It certainly won’t go low like an F-4 will. It would seem to me like the F-14 would have made a good wild weasel airplane. It has a 2 place cockpit so you’ve got one guy to find the launch site and another to do that pilot stuff. I’d think this job would be a good opportunity for a manned craft to team up with a UAV. The UAV could take the point while the human on site does the locating and targeting, and even some of the controlling of the unmanned vehicle. UAVs are great for high risk operations, but the remote UAV operators have a much diminished awareness of the environment the UAV is in, so use the best of both worlds.

  7. The Growler won’t need the HTS. It will have a far greater ability to detect, localize, classify, and target emitters using its built in tactical jamming system. Right now, the Prowler has the best ability to attack SAM sites, despite being a rather pokey airframe. If the mission is to escort a strike in, the Growler will likely work in conjunction with other HARM Shooters, using a combination of jamming, handing off targets to the other ‘Iron Hand’ aircraft, and engaging with it’s own HARMs and other weapons like JSOWs. If it is providing area SEAD for a period of time, it will probably concentrate on the localization of threats in the area and only engage when a package is in the area. It would tend to be mostly a standoff role.

  8. The HTS (R7) & Sniper pods basically represent two programs that are being subsequently merged into the STING program. (Name now ‘unoffical’ to avoid confusion). The air force is transforming the mission from SEAD to DEAD. (got to love these names [ Suppression to Destruction.) Currently the two pods are being used as a short term solution to the targeting needs. Generations R8 & R9 are to combine the functions of the two pods into a single pod. Airframes not with the DEAD mission, are only getting the Sniper pod. (You get all the visual goodies + GPS, but you do not get the R7’s radar ranging capability.) Such as the A-10C & F-15E. For random reference http://www.dtic.mil/descriptivesum/Y2007/AirForce/0207136F.pdf

  9. I’ve read somewhere that as the Mud Hens (F-15E) are replaced by F-35’s that they will be relegated to the Wild Weasel mission.

  10. 2CAVTrooper: That would make sense, as the F-15E has two crewmen, of course. Seems to me that Wild Weaselin’ in a single seater would keep a fellow pretty busy…