The Navy’s plan to add 36 EA-18G Growlers to the 82 electronic warfare aircraft now based at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Wash., could begin next year, after it released the final environmental impact statement for the move last week. The plan, which would establish two new expeditionary squadrons and add two aircraft to each of the installation’s existing carrier air wing Growler squadrons, has sparked local opposition as it would increase the number of training operations at both Ault Field at Oak Harbor and Outlying Landing Field (OLF) Coupeville, reported the Peninsula Daily News. The Sound Defense Alliance, a coalition of environmental and community groups from Whidbey Island, is calling for the Navy to find an alternate site to host the new aircraft. The alliance is particularly concerned about the planned increase in field carrier landing practice at OLF Coupeville, where annual operations would jump from 6,510 to 24,100.
Some relief to residents could come from $2 million allocated in the fiscal 2019 defense spending bill for the Navy to research technologies that could reduce the noise produced by those aircraft. “The reality is the Navy has important work to do with training airmen, training those who keep us safe,” Washington Rep. Derek Kilmer (D) told the Kitsap Sun in August. “At the same time, the Navy needs to be a good neighbor. Part of the reason we’ve focused on efforts to reduce jet noise is to ensure the Navy upholds that obligation,” said Kilmer, who pushed for the funding.
Navy Photo by Mass Communications Specialist 1st Class Jimmie Crockett