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USS HARRY S. TRUMAN, At sea -- Airborne Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 130, the Zappers, landed its squadron's first operational EA-18G Growler on the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), July 18.
The Growler, a variant of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, replaced the EA-6B Prowler as the primary electronic warfare strike aircraft for Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 3.
Getting Growlers aboard Truman is a huge achievement for the squadron, said Cmdr. Jeff Chism, the Zappers' executive officer.
"This is the first time our squadron has landed a Growler aboard a ship," said Chism. "Truman is only the second carrier on the East Coast with a VAQ squadron embarked, and we are thrilled to be here."
Zappers' Commanding Officer Cmdr. Rich Vaccaro landed the Growler on Truman.
"The Prowler is an older aircraft," said Lt. Nathan Gingery, a VAQ-130 pilot. "The Growler will extend the electronic attack mission into the distant future."
The Growler has implemented and improved upon much of the old EA-6B equipment, said Gingery.
"The advanced radar jammers, while similar to the Prowler's, have been integrated in a totally different way into the Super Hornet's frame allowing for new additions like a better communication system," said Gingery. "The new system allows data transfer and communication between various aircraft and ships in the air wing and carrier strike group."
Pilots in VAQ-130 had no trouble adapting from the EA-6Bs to the Growler's Super Hornet air frame, said Gingery.
"We went from crews of four in the Prowlers to only needing two pilots in the Growlers," said Chism. "The pilots' transition from the EA-6B to the EA-18G's cockpit was almost seamless. It was streamlined by the Super Hornet's user-friendly controls."
Due to its Super Hornet air frame, the Growler allows for better integration with other squadrons embarked aboard Truman.
"Maintenance of the Growler's frame is much easier as we can now share parts with other squadrons," said Chism. "We never saw this type of squadron integration with the old EA-6Bs."
VAQ-130 is scheduled to train aboard Truman throughout flight deck certifications and carrier qualifications.