The US Navy has announced it will ground its entire fleet of F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters and EA-18 Growler electronic warfare jets after an incident at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, in Washington State, left several ground crew hospitalized.
The "on-deck emergency" early Friday morning damaged an EA-18 Growler and saw the plane's two-man ground crew medi-evaced by one of the base's search-and-rescue choppers to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle to treat unspecified injuries, The San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The Growler and her crew belong to Electronic Attack Squadron 132.
Since the EA-18 is a broadly similar variant of the Hornet, the Navy decided to park its entire fleet of both jets, although it will make exceptions "on a case-by-case basis dependent upon operational requirements." That could likely point to the importance of the Growler's role in anti-ISIS operations in the Middle East.
At this point, it's too early to say how long the Navy will keep the Hornet/Growler grounded. Currently, engineers from Boeing and the Navy are inspecting jets at NAS North Island, The Union-Tribune reports.