The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF)’s EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft fleet achieved Initial Operating Capability (IOC), RAAF announced on April 30.
The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies said IOC for the Growler was a significant achievement in Defence’s efforts to improve joint electronic warfare capability.
“Over time, this aircraft will work with Army and Navy platforms to enhance our ability to control the electronic environment, and where necessary, deny or degrade the electronic systems of adversaries,” Air Marshal Davies said. “This will provide a capability edge by enhancing tactical options to reduce risks to Australian and partner maritime, land and air forces in more complex and high-tech conflicts of the future.”
Flight training devices and support facilities for the aircraft have been built and delivered to RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland.
The Australian government announced the AUD1.5-billion (USD1.14 billion) procurement effort for Growler in May 2013 and the contract was placed the following year. The first flight of an Australian Growler has taken place in July 2015. Compared to the U.S. Navy aircraft, Australian Growlers will be equipped with the ASQ-228 ATFLIR targeting pod and will also have additional air-to-air weapons in the form of the AIM-9X Sidewinder missile.
The Growler capability includes new electronic attack aircraft fitted with purpose-built jamming pods as well as a suite of advanced weapons. The Growler, operated by RAAF Base Amberley-based 6 Squadron, is capable of providing force-level electronic warfare support by disrupting, deceiving or denying a broad range of electronic systems, including radar and communications systems.
The Growler is based on the F/A-18F Super Hornet airframe and fitted with additional avionics, enhanced radio frequency receivers, an improved communications suite and radio-frequency jamming pods that enable it to jam enemy systems. It will provide a complementary capability to RAAF’s F/A-18F Super Hornet and the F-35A Lightning II aircraft.
Australia accepted the first two Growlers in February 2017 becoming the first country other than United States to operate the aircraft. The service received its final/12th aircraft on July 5, 2017. RAAF’s Growler fleet is expected to achieve full operating capability (FOC) in 2022.
These platforms will be supplemented by modified Gulfstream G550s – designated the MC-55A Peregrine – that will provide a long-range EA support capability. A $1 billion contract for four of these aircraft was awarded to L3 Technologies earlier this year.