Australia’s Department of Defence (DoD) has announced that the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft has achieved initial operating capability (IOC).
Built by Boeing, the EA-18G Growler aircraft is in service with the RAAF and the US Navy.
RAAF operates a fleet of 11 Growlers from Base Amberley in Queensland. The aircraft is designed to disrupt, deceive or deny military electronic systems, including radars and communications.
According to RAAF Chief of Air Force air marshal Leo Davies, the IOC marks a significant achievement in DoD’s efforts to enhance joint electronic warfare capability.
Davies said: “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.
“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.”
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The Growler is an electronic attack aircraft equipped with purpose-built ALQ radio-frequency jamming pods and advanced weapons.
Based on the F/A-18F Super Hornet airframe, the Growler features multiple enhancements, including additional avionics, enhanced radio frequency receivers and an improved communications suite.
The aircraft can offer increased protection to forces while also improving their situational awareness.
RAAF can use the Growlers in support of a range of defence tasks, from peacekeeping evacuations to major conflicts.
In June 2014, Boeing received a contract to deliver 12 EA-18G Growler aircraft to Australia under a foreign military sales agreement with the US Navy. The deal also included delivery of necessary mission and support systems, training, and ongoing support.
A RAAF Growler caught fire in January last year due to engine failure during the last stages of its take-off roll at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) in the US. The accident left RAAF with 11 Growlers.