AP NEWS

Navy finalizes plan to add jets to NAS Whidbey

March 16, 2019
An E/A-18 Growler pulls up after a touch-and-go while performing carrier landing simulations at the Outlying Field near Coupeville in August.

The Navy has made final its decision to bring 36 more EA-18G Growler jets to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.

The record of decision issued Wednesday comes on the heels of the Navy’s agreement to provide money for historic preservation on Whidbey Island in an effort to mitigate the additional flight operations that will come with new jets.

The record of decision marks the final step in the yearslong process to prepare a required environmental impact statement, or EIS.

The Navy has said the addition of 36 Growlers is necessary to maintain the Navy’s overall electronic attack capabilities, for which NAS Whidbey is the home base.

The addition of those jets will also bring to the area personnel to maintain and operate them, the families of those personnel and additional flights at area airfields.

Ted Brown, environmental public affairs officer with the U.S. Fleet Force Command, said the Navy expects the additional jets and personnel to gradually arrive at NAS Whidbey between now and 2022.

The Navy will make improvements to facilities at its Ault Field and will increase aircraft operations both there and at Outlying Landing Field Coupeville.

The Navy will also take various steps to reduce jet noise, including using new technologies to quiet the engines and improve the precision of landing.

Of 15 alternatives considered — which included various numbers of jets, numbers of field carrier landing practices and how much activity would occur at each airfield — the Navy found the chosen plan had the least impact.

It will put the majority of field carrier landing practices at OLF Coupeville — 80 percent there and 20 percent at Ault Field — because the layout of the field best replicates the experience of landing on the deck of an aircraft carrier.