Boeing has unveiled the first EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft built for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), offering advanced airborne electronic attack (AEA) capability to the country.
Australia will receive 12 Growler aircraft under the US Government’s foreign military sales programme at a cost of around $1.5bn.
US Navy tactical aircraft programmes program executive officer rear admiral Donald Gaddis said: "Growlers are the cutting edge of electronic warfare.
"As the US 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."
The deliveries under this programme are expected to start in 2017.
Based on the F/A-18 Hornet, the EA-18G Growler is designed for electronic attack missions, and suppression of enemy air defences using both reactive and pre-emptive jamming techniques.
Based at RAAF Base Amberley, the aircraft are expected to support the full spectrum of Australian Defence Force tasks, from peacetime evacuations to major conflicts.
RAAF former chief Air Marshal Geoff Brown said: "The Growlers will complement our existing and future air combat capability, and we will be much more lethal with this AEA protection.
"In many respects, it’s the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle for the RAAF."
The first Growler will now fly to Naval Air Station China Lake, California, for flight testing and later move to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, where RAAF personnel have been receiving training to operate the aircraft.
RAAF’s current Boeing fleet includes the Hornet and Super Hornet, E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control, C-17 Globemaster III and CH-47F Chinook.
Image: Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. Photo: courtesy of Boeing photo.