EAST FARMINGDALE, NY--June 10, 2010--Navy pilot Commander Scott Bunnay climbs...

EAST FARMINGDALE, NY--June 10, 2010--Navy pilot Commander Scott Bunnay climbs out of the EA-18G Growler center, as Northrop-Grumman's Chris Solter (blue shirt) and Deputy Wing Commander Captain Chris Shay, look on at Republic Airport on Thursday June 10, 2010. The EA-18G combines the combat-proven two-seat, twin engine F/A-18F Super Hornet with the EA-6B improved capability system to provide next-generation electronic attack capability. Many of the electronic components were designed and built by Northrop-Grumman in Bethpage.(photo by Kevin P. Coughlin) Credit: Photo by KEVIN P. COUGHLIN

Coalition air strikes against forces loyal to Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi were led by a Navy airplane whose electronics were built on Long Island.

Navy spokeswoman Marcia Hart-Wise confirmed Friday the Navy's EA-18G Growler, an electronic-jamming aircraft, took part in the first air raids against Gadhafi ground forces going after rebel strongholds.

Online trade publications that follow the defense industry said the raids marked the first time the Growler has been used in combat.

The Growler is built by Chicago-based Boeing Co. But its electronic-jamming equipment -- known as ICAP III, for improved capability, and used to suppress enemy air defenses and to detect surface-to-air threats -- is designed by Northrop Grumman Corp.'s unit in Bethpage.

The Growler replaces the Navy's EA-6B Prowler, which was built by the former Grumman company in the 1970s.

Hart-Wise said as of March 17, 45 Growlers have been delivered to the Navy, and 43 are in operational service. The Navy hopes to buy as many as 114 Growlers.

A Navy team flew a Growler into Republic Airport in East Farmingdale last summer so the media and Northrop Grumman employees could get an up-close look.

Much of the future of Northrop Grumman's Long Island operations are tied to projects like the Growler, which emphasizes high-tech electronics over old-fashioned metal bending.