The first of the RAAF’s new EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft landed in Australian today ready to take part in the Australian International Airshow at Avalon this weekend.
The former Gillard government announced plans to spend $1.5 billion on 12 Growlers four years ago, upgrading initial plans to retrofit 12 of the RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornets with the electronic disruption capability as an interim measure alongside the 24 Super Hornets amid continued delays to the controversial JSF F-35 project.
Australia is the only nation outside of the US with the Growler jamming electronics, which can block radar systems to protect other forces. Today at their arrival at Avalon, RAAF chief air marshal Leo Davies said he expects the Growlers will spend more time flying with the army and navy than the air force.
“The EA-18G Growler will operate as part of our networked and integrated force, capable of sharing electronic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data with other aircraft, as well as with the Army and Navy,” he said.
“The Growler is powerful and flexible. It can undertake a range of non-kinetic tasks, ranging from jamming, to blocking radar displays, and suppressing an adversary’s air defence system.
The first two planes landed from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in the United States on Tuesday, with the remainder expected at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland by the middle of 2017.
Defence minister senator Marise Payne got to check out the handiwork of RAAF pilots “Snake Eye” and “Beefcake” at airshow today as she announced the Turnbull government will spend an additional $250 million to “future proof the Growler’s capability” with next-generation radar and radio jammers in a partnership with the US Navy.
“Australia is the only country outside the United States flying the EA-18G Growler and its arrival is a significant leap forward in Australia’s joint electronic warfare capability and introduces a dedicated electronic attack option,” the minister said.
— Marise Payne (@MarisePayne) February 28, 2017
Australia’s first F-35s are due to land at Avalon on Friday and will be part of the show this weekend. Military aviation buffs also get a chance catch the C27J Spartan battlefield air lifter in action for the first time.
The C-27J complements the current C-130J Hercules and C-17A Globemaster aircraft to move people, equipment and supplies and can land on airstrips unsuitable for Hercules. The RAAF has ordered 10 Spartans and this is the first one to reach operational mode.
But for now the star of the show is the Growler and its cousin, the F/A-18F Super Hornet. Here are some photos from today, courtesy of the Department of Defence.
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