ABOARD THE USS RONALD REAGAN – As more E/A-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft make their way in the fleet, U.S. Navy aviators are starting to extol the capability they see in the jets now – and the potential missions they envision in the fleet’s future.

"I finally feel like I have overwhelming advantage in the tactical arena, in the combination of the air wing now," says Capt. Jeffrey "Caesar" Czerewko, the air group commander aboard the aircraft carrier CVN 76 USS Ronald Reagan.

"All of the little things I used to want in Bosnia, during Southern Watch, in OEF [Operation Enduring Freedom], OIF [Operation Iraqi Freedom], now I’m seeing it," he told Aviation Week during a break in training operations aboard the Reagan in while the ship was participating in the recent Rim of Pacific (Rimpac) exercises off the coast of Hawaii.

A veteran pilot who has flown missions for those operations in F/A-18s, he notes the Growlers have the capability he and other pilots wanted when they were flying as far back as the F/A-18Cs. "It has all the things I wish we had in the Charlie back in the day," he says.

Flying the aircraft, he says, is like handling a heavy Super Hornet.

He touts "the way it ‘talks’ with other airplanes. It’s incredible how much better we are with airborne electronic attack."

And pilots are only now starting to tap that capability, he predicts. "I don’t think we’ve even cracked the nut yet on how much Growler can do. In a classified discussion, it’s eye-watering. The bumper sticker here is that the Navy does evolutionary stuff very well – and the Growler is evolutionary."

Still, he says, "I wish we had more. I wish everybody agreed we should have more."