|#2987 2008-08-09 GMT-5 hours|
Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 129 received a ësatisfactory with an outstandingí rating in 12 of the 13 points during
the first Conventional Weapons Technical Proficiency Inspection (CWTPI) for a fleet EA-18G Growler, July 30.
The inspection was conducted at Hangar 12 on board Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island and was the culmination of
six weeks of preparation since the arrival of the first Growler, dubbed G-4, to NAS Whidbey Island, June 3.
Inspectors from the Electronic Attack Weapons School (EAWS) and Commander, Electronic Attack Wing, U.S. Pacific Fleet,
(CVWP) judged the proficiency of both aviation electronics technicians (AT) and aviation ordnancemen (AO) through the
process of prepping an aircraft for, and loading, ordnance. Three members of Strike Fighter Weapons School Pacific, in
NAS Lemoore, Calif., who are familiar with the inspection for F-18 E/F Super Hornet variants, observed the event for a
comparison between the processes for the different variants.
“We train the AOs and ATs in release control checks and aircraft weapons loading,” said Chief Aviation Ordnanceman (AW)
Eddie Fry, of EAWS. “Once they come through our course, whenever they’re ready to work through their tech assist and
CWTPI to make sure they’re qualified and safe to load ordnance and properly perform their release control checks, we come
over and make sure of just that. Once we’re satisfied they can do that safely and get the ordnance on the aircraft without
damaging the equipment or hurting anybody, we take our report and send it to the Wing (CVWP) and EAWS does a debrief.
If they’re successful at that point they are safe for flight.”
The aircraft was prepped and loaded with two AN/ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming Systems, two Captive Air Training Missile (CATM)
88 high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARMs), a CATM 120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missile (AMRAAM), and
ALE-47 countermeasure dispenser systems which is a typical combat load, minus the fuel tanks, for the aircraft. Another
benchmark set is being the first NAS Whidbey Island aircraft to facilitate an AMRAAM with its LAU-116 cheek station launchers.
This allows for defensive air-to-air capability which the EA-6B Prowler, the aircraft the EA-18G is replacing, never had without
being escorted by other aircraft.
“For the ATs, we’re making sure we know the jetís weapons system is acting as it’s supposed to and when the pilots release the
weapons they’ll do as they’re supposed to and everything works properly,” said Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW) Aaron
Dickerson, of VAQ-129. “The AOs are going through weapons inspections and they’re actual load procedures. Then, the aircrew
will come out and we’ll go through the arm/dearm procedures while making sure the whole evolution is a safe process.”
The CWTPI is the first of two phases making the aircraft safe for flight. Next is a maintenance program assist conducted by CVWP
checking the administrative and operational proficiency of VAQ-129’s maintenance programs to ensure safety and proper procedures
with their aircraft.
“If you were here about two months ago you’d be amazed, because the crew did outstanding, they showed vast improvement from
when we started,” said Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW/SW) Gerald Jackson, of VAQ-129, the positional authority for the AO
portion of the inspection. “I’m very proud of this crew. It’s the first time for everybody, it’s a new experience, but I think it went well.
My crew are solid performers.”
“I can’t tell you guys how proud I am, because we are doing something that is really transformational,” said Capt. Brad Russell,
commodore of CVWP. “We are doing a transition in this squadron while we are continuing to provide electronic attack to combatant and
fleet commanders. VAQ-129 is leading the way on that, and this is pretty much a group of EA-6B rock stars, who we took and said that
we were going to make EA-18G folks. I’m really astounded by our success with EAWS, VAQ-129, and the Wing to pull this together in the
amount of time we had to do it and to come out with the results that we did.”