The RAAF has taken delivery of a single Boeing EA-18G Growler to replace an aircraft lost in a 2018 accident.
“Defence formally accepted the replacement EA-18G Growler in February 2023,” says Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD). “Acceptance of this aircraft restores Australia’s Growler fleet to 12 aircraft.”
As already reported, on Sep. 30, 2021 the US State Department made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of EA-18G Growler Aircraft, Related Defense Services, and related equipment for an estimated cost of $125 million.
This aircraft allows Australia to effectively maintain its current force projection capability that enhances interoperability with US forces well into the future and maintain their original primary level of aircraft authorized. This aircraft would replace Australia’s EA-18G A46-311 aircraft lost in an accident at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) on Jan. 27, 2018 during Exercise Red Flag 18-1.
On that day, the aircraft, assigned to 6 Squadron, experienced an uncontained F414 engine failure during the latter stages of its take-off roll at Nellis. At ~140 knots indicated air speed (KIAS), the ballistic material failure of the right hand engine caused the almost simultaneous failure of the left hand engine, a cascading set of malfunctions and emergencies and a fierce fuel / airframe fire.
The hulk was then placed in storage at 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group (AMARG) at Davis Monthan AFB, Ariz.
RAAF EA-18G Growlers are operated by No. 6 Squadron based at RAAF Base Amberley and operate in conjunction with Australian air, land and sea forces.
As already reported, the RAAF EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft will be upgraded to the most current US capabilities by Australian Defence Force’s standout radar-systems developer CEA Technologies as part of the $6 billion Project AIR 5349 Phase 6 project.
The list of upgrades coming to Australia’s Growlers includes the AN/ALQ-249 Next Generation Jammer Mid-Band (NGJ-MB) to replace the AN/ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System; sensor upgrades; anti-radiation missile war stock; and new longer-range and more advanced anti-radiation missiles.
Upgrades to the electronic warfare training ranges and facility upgrades at Queensland’s Amberley base and the Delamere Air Training Area near Katherine in the Northern Territory are also part of the deal.
Moreover, according to Flight Global, qt the recent Avalon Airshow, Boeing confirmed that it is in discussions with Canberra about upgrading the RAAF’s fleet of 24 F/A-18Fs to the new Block III configuration.
“That’s still in discussion with [the] RAAF about how we continue to support Super Hornet and at what point we incorporate Block III upgrades for Super Hornet, and Block II upgrades for the Growler,” said Dale McDowall, Boeing’s director of business development for Australia and New Zealand.
Block III upgrades, which are being applied to the US Navy’s Super Hornet fleet, significantly enhance the aircraft, particularly its ability to handle large amounts of data as part of a larger “kill web” that includes multiple other assets.
Photo credit: William R. Lewis / U.S. Air Force and Royal Australian Air Force