The Royal Australian Air Force received its first EA-18G Growler today as prime contractor Boeing and the US Navy formally presented the aircraft to the RAAF at a ceremony in St Louis in the United States.
Former Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Geoff Brown, who represented the RAAF at the ceremony, confirmed that Australia would be the first nation outside the United States to fly the airborne electronic attack platform.
“The Growlers will complement our existing and future air combat capability, and ours will be a much more lethal force with this advanced technology,” Air Marshal Brown said.
“In many respects, it’s the final piece of the air power jigsaw puzzle for the RAAF, and my prediction is it will have one of the biggest strategic effects for the Australian Defence Force since the introduction of the F-111 in the 1970s.”
A derivative of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, the EA-18G Growler is the only aircraft in production providing tactical jamming and electronic protection.
The Growler will enhance Air Force’s current fleet of 24 Super Hornets and future fleet of F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, and advances ‘Plan Jericho’, the initiative to transform the Air Force into an integrated, networked force able to deliver air power in all operating environments. Growler will also be a key enabler for both maritime and land forces.
The first aircraft to be delivered, A46-301, made its first flight on July 13 but was formally presented in front of RAAF and US Navy representatives, Boeing employees and the Governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon.
“The aircraft will now fly to Naval Air Station China Lake, California, for flight testing and then Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington State, where RAAF operators will continue training with U.S. Navy aircrew to gain expertise in the highly technical electronic warfare mission,” Air Marshal Brown said.
The second RAAF Growler has also made its first flight, while the following 10 aircraft are in various stages of assembly at Boeing’s St Louis plant. On current plans, all 12 aircraft will arrive in Australia by the end of 2017.