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Guest Column: Navy Electronic Warfare Training in Pacific Northwest


11/29/16 12:00 AM

NAVAL AIR STATION WHIDBEY ISLAND, Wash. – For several decades the Navy has sought to enhance its airborne Electronic Warfare (EW) training capabilities in the Pacific Northwest in order to keep ahead of our adversaries in this increasing important field of modern warfare.


Recognition of this importance was the driving reason the Department of Defense requested that the Navy add more EA-18G Growlers to it aircraft fleet, as well as the Navy's need to improve local training capabilities.


Electronic warfare may sound ominous, but it is really about controlling the electromagnetic spectrum, by denying an advisory the ability to shoot down aircraft with missile defense systems or blocking signals to prevent activation of improvised explosive devices. 


The Navy studied the potential impacts of its proposed training improvements through an Environmental Assessment, which included a request to access remote National Forest roads to drive electronic transmission vehicles on.  The long time use of existing airspace by Navy aircraft is not proposed to change substantially with the use of the transmitter vehicles.  Navy aircraft training requirements were addressed in a more comprehensive analysis, the Northwest Training and Testing Environmental Impact Statement that was released in October 2016.


The transmitter vehicles the Navy intends to use on the Olympic peninsula are similar in size and power to a television communications van, and like other commonly used electronic equipment, pose no threat to people, wildlife or the environment.   The vehicles provide a vast improvement in the training by adding more realistic scenarios representative of today's threat to our aircrew while flying in the airspace.   Through the operation of these vehicles to create realistic training opportunities in NAS Whidbey Island's local training area, the Navy will be able to save approximately $5 million a year through reduced fuel consumption and wear and tear on airframes.


Earlier this week, the US Forest Service, released their draft decision notice initiating a public objection period for the Navy's Special Use Permit available here:


  The Navy has flown and carried out airborne training activities here since World War II, and is committed to transparency regarding EW and other training activities that are ultimately designed to protect the citizens and interests of this country. We have posted considerable information about this and other training activities in the Pacific Northwest available at:


If you have questions about the Navy's plan to improve EW training or other aviation activities in the region, please contact the NAS Whidbey Island Public Affairs Office at 360-257-2286 or email us at



Capt. Geoff Moore,

Commanding Officer

NAS Whidbey Island