Growlers Over Libya — An Update

Defense Tech attended a roundtable interview with Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughhead this morning and he dropped an interesting tidbit we thought our readers would enjoy.

There’s been some speculation that the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft now flying over Libya came from a carrier wing. We’re here to report they did not…

Roughead was proud of the fact that the Growlers now banging trons over Tripoli are from VAQ-132, which was supposed to deploy aboard the Vinson, but was stationed instead at al Asad air base in Iraq. When the balloon was about to go up over Libya, the Scorpions were tasked out to assist.

Roughead said that the entire squadron and its support team were pulled out of Iraq and flown to Aviano in Italy.

“Within 48 hours they were flying missions over Libya,” Roughead said.

Pretty impressive…

— Christian

  • PTS

    This is one of the primary reasons that the Navy decided to keep the expeditionary EA squadrons. This is not the first time they have shown this level of flexability. Remember in Kosovo, a squadron was retasked from Iraq to support operations from Aviano. Funny how history repeats itself.

  • Oblat

    2 days to libya how fast if you fly commercial ?

    EW aircraft are easy to redeploy - no expendables, especially when you’ve been sailing around in front of the country for a month.

    The real question is why weren’t they there already ?

    • Guest

      Start at the top of the article, read all the way down to where it says comments, let it sink in. Next time this will save you from posting comments that make you look ignorant.

    • Guest

      It’s also abundantly clear to see that you have no concept of military logistics moves on this scale, from one operational theater to another in that short of a timeframe.

      • STemplar

        This is pretty dim even for you Oblat in regards to the deployment speed.

        In regards to why they weren’t there already, that’s because of the people calling the shots in the White House, not the military’s fault. I actually agree on that point, why is the whole thing being run as such a cluster. Forces should have been moved into place ahead of time to match capability to the rhetoric our good Prez was throwing around.

    • Oblat

      You gotta love the fan-boys who think that the whole logistical tail was redeployed in 2 days.

  • Guest

    It sounds to me like it has nothing to do with the WH, and everything to do with our GWOT. It doesn’t say how long they were in Iraq. They may have been there for months by the time this situation popped off and the sqdrn redeployed to support it…

    • STemplar

      I’m speaking in general terms, not this squadron specifically and yes it does have everything to do with the White House. The F15s were from Lakenheath and flew their first mission from there, there was no reason they couldn’t have been moved to Aviano prior. The Bush is now in the western Atlantic, no clue if it is headed to the area but one would presume. Would’ve been nice if it was there 2 weeks ago. This whole effort was a last second hail mary precisely because the national security team in the White House is atrocious.

      • STemplar

        Aww did I hurt someone’s feelings by calling the WH for the cluster it is in this mess? Allow me to expand. Almost 2 weeks ago the intel czar Clapper threw it out there that without change on the ground Qaddafi was going to win and what did the WH do? Demonized their own intel czar and threw him under the bus. then we rushed off the Geneva to kick those darn ol Libyans off the UN Human Rights council. Then we froze some assets, boy we sure showed them! Then we ran to the UNSC for a week of pointless blathering, and what did Qaddafi do? He marched on Benghazi after crushing everything in between and gave the WH the finger.

        So the question becomes had the WH maybe listened to its intel czar and moved a carrier group off the coast of Libya would we have even had to drop any bombs to keep them away from Benghazi? We’ll never know because we didn’t. Bottom line is when the POTUS makes pronouncements they need to back that up with capability. They botched this so instead we had tactical strike missions being launched from England and Missouri because we had nothing else besides a few Harriers within reach. Boondoggle, period.

  • Guest

    Ok, but 2 wks ago didn’t the SecDef say the US had no plans at the time for a NFZ unless the Prez told him, or something to that effect? I wasn’t talking about this particular unit either, just that at that time I think Libya wasn’t as high on the DoDs list of priorites seeing we still have things to do in Iraq and the ‘stan. Units are always tasked to change directions all the time and seemingly at the last minute, so I don’t see what all the heartache is about here. It’s not like they missed anything there, they’re putting rounds on targets.

    • STemplar

      No the Sec of Defense said there was a lot more to a NFZ than just cruising around lookin cool at altitude. Clearly 120 odd cruise missiles, give or take, later I’m sure the Libyan military agrees. That’s another clear illustration of the point, the Sec of Def was counseling a NFZ was difficult, the Sec of State was running around talking about them, the intel czar was saying Qaddafi was going to win as things stood, and the WH issued zero orders to move real assets into place, with the exception of the Kearsage. Even that had to have marines flown to it as its people were in Stan. It’s all been half hearted and half (word that won’t get by filter) from go.

  • Eric Palmer

    When the next gen jammer program didn’t pan out at the time, the Navy went with legacy jamming equipment to put on this aircraft. That is after they made up briefs stating that the equipment on it today (mostly from the EA-6) was too hard to maintain and wouldn’t stand up to emerging threats. Well, they had to put something on deck. The fact that this aircraft is out there vs. a very poorly maintained legacy Soviet era SAM system isn’t a big deal.
    “Not much Grrrrrr! for the Growler”

  • Hunter78


    Your criticisms against the WH show no consideration of the realpolitikal aspects of the situation. Following the difficult but relatively bloodless recent revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, and parallel disturbances in other Arab lands, it looked like Libya was the next domino to fall. The rebels were victorious in the East, and demonstrations were spreading in Tripoli. The ideal outcome was that the rebels triumph without show of American might. That didn’t happen, and we were faced with the bloodbath Gaddafi was promising, and the blueprint for other undemocratic regimes to protect themselves. The Arab world has been politically backward for too long. The current wave of revolutions there is the greatest change in centuries. A backward Arabia is the breeding ground for terrorism. Our interest has to be to push it. But it can be good to be discrete.

    • STemplar

      My criticisms are that they didn’t move assets to back rhetoric, because they didn’t move assets to back rhetoric. This isn’t about being subtle versus using gun boat diplomacy. Obamas language was not subtle. He said Qaddafi had lost legitimacy. He was going to be held accountable. There was no where he could hide. The whole world was watching. We supported the intent of the rebels. That’s isn’t subtle language at all. I think you’re ignoring the fact that he used gun boat diplomacy language but forgot to send any gun boats. Then his bluff was called and he was about to be made to look like an inept fool, so we launched strategic bombers to hit a runway, so a few Harriers could bomb some tanks without getting shot down, and used $100+ million worth of cruise missiles because we didn’t have a carrier wing or USAF expeditionary wing in place to conduct SEADs. I say again, boondoggle.

      • Rick

        Correct me if I’m wrong but didn’t we have 4 carriers in place “last time” before we started shooting/bombing/flying. Your right STemplar, this whole thing was been handled in a ‘fubar’ way by the WH.
        What I really want to know is where is the budget coming from the replace all of those cruise missiles we expended, someone is going to have to re-fill those ships and subs?

        • pts

          Yes a US carrier would have been nice to a to the mix but……
          1. One is supporting Japan HADR operations
          2. One is sitting off the coast another boiling point location that might be just as bad as Libya without the benifit of close proximity to landbased airpower
          3. The other boats are in various stages of their workup cycle and might not be ready to deploy yet. Yes you can rush the cycle but it does not happen overnight. You need to Cert the Airwing (cause a Carrier without planes is useless in this case).
          4. Carriers cost a lot of money to get underway. In this period of “fiscal austerity”…. you just dont sortie the fleet if you dont actually need to and listening to the WH/DOD/Congressional statements in the past two weeks…… well you get the point.

          • STemplar

            The Bush is in WESTLANT right now, it left port 3 days ago. It got done with exercises 3rd week of FEB and has been in port since. The Truman is sitting in port now. The surge strategy is in place, and I believe it was to be able to surge one carrier within a week anywhere. They had several weeks of lead time things were falling apart in Libya.

          • Curt

            Not to mention that you could have moved any number of land based assets to places like NAS Sigonella where they would have been in better position from the beginning.

          • STemplar

            Aside from the carriers, there is firepower aplenty sitting on runways here in the US in the form of the USAF that could have been sent to Europe. The F15 Strike Eagles in Europe weren’t even moved closer to the area until the decision was made to take action. Last minute and half arsed no matter how you slice it.

  • jamesb101

    There will little to no cuts in the overall Defense budget…

    Congress knows that…..
    We ARE predominate military in the world…..
    The bill comes with that….

  • William C.

    The EA-18G makes me wish the USAF had some sort of EF-15 they could use in a similar role.

    • Praetorian

      I forgot weather you dis like the F-35 or not, but it will have a limited EW capability.
      I also see the point it being a F-15 as well, more speed, range, & weapons load.

    • Jeff K

      Not too long ago the USAF *did* have the EF-111 Ardvark with an advanced version of the ALQ-99 on the EA-6B Prowler but…

  • alex

    So, how many of you guys have actually ejaculated to pictures of the AWESOME US military in action this week?

  • Max

    “Banging trons”? Whatever…

  • Stesdolly