Boeing and the U.S. Navy presented the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) with its first EA-18G Growler today, according to a Boeing news release.
“The Growlers will complement our existing and future air combat capability, and we will be much more lethal with this AEA protection,” said Air Marshal Geoff Brown, former chief of the RAAF, in the release. “In many respects, it’s the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle for the RAAF.”
“As the U.S. Navy and RAAF continue to train and operate together we welcome Australia’s strategic step to advance the capabilities of our joint partners for years of future success.”
Australia is currently the only other operator of the F/A-18F Super Hornet, and will also be the first foreign operator of the Growler. The Growler is a derivative of the Super Hornet, which replaced the aging EA-6B Prowler in U.S. Navy service to provide tactical jamming and electronic attack capability. While the Prowler flew with four crewmembers, the Growler seats two crew in tandem. Boeing says advanced 21st century technology obviates the need for the other two crew required in the Prowler. The U.S. Navy has procured more than 100 Growlers from Boeing.
“Today, we celebrate enduring partnerships with the RAAF, U.S. Navy and our industry team,” said Chris Chadwick, Defense, Space & Security president and CEO. “The U.S. Navy, RAAF and Boeing’s continued investment and innovation mean the Growler is not only the world’s premier electronic attack platform today, but will remain so for many decades to come.”
The first RAAF Growler will fly to Naval Air Station China Lake, California for further flight testing and then on to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, where RAAF operators will train with U.S. Navy pilots to gain further expertise in the electronic warfare mission. The first Growlers are expected in Australia in 2017.
“Growlers are the cutting edge of electronic warfare,” said Rear Adm. Donald Gaddis, U.S. Navy Program Executive Officer for Tactical Aircraft Programs. “As the U.S. Navy and RAAF continue to train and operate together we welcome Australia’s strategic step to advance the capabilities of our joint partners for years of future success.”
Australia currently operates 24 Super Hornets as well as 71 F/A-18A/B “Classic” Hornets. The Hornets are to be replaced with 72 Lockheed Martin F-35As beginning in 2018. The RAAF plans to buy 12 Growlers as a key component of “Plan Jericho,” an initiative to transform the RAAF into an integrated, networked force able to deliver air power in all operating environments.