Electronic attack aircraft
The EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft, a derivative of the F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter, is manufactured by Boeing. The aircraft is intended to provide tactical jamming capabilities and protection to Australian ground, air and sea forces against enemy electronic warfare systems.
The Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) received the first of 12 EA-18G Growler aircraft in July 2015. Deliveries of all 12 aircraft will be concluded by 2017 and initial operational capability (IOC) is expected in 2018. All the 12 EA-18G electronic attack aircraft are planned to be based at RAAF Base Amberley, complementing the Air Force’s existing 24 F/A-18F Super Hornet and the future F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.
The EA-18G Growler aircraft entered service with the US Navy in 2009 and as of July 2015, a total of 115 Growlers have been built for the Navy.
In July 2013, the RAAF signed a foreign military sales agreement for the acquisition of EA-18G electronic attack aircraft from the US. The $1.5bn acquisition includes 12 new-build Growlers, mission and support systems, training and ongoing support services. Australia is the first nation to acquire EA-18G aircraft from the US.
Boeing received a contract for the manufacture of 12 Growlers in June 2014. The aircraft are being manufactured at the company’s St Louis plant.
Northrop Grumman, the airframe subcontractor for 12 RAAF EA-18Gs, completed major sub-assembly or ship-set for the first aircraft in March 2015. The subassembly involves the aircraft’s twin vertical tails, centre / aft fuselage section, and associated subsystems.
The EA-18G Growler measures 18.3m-long and 4.9m-high and features large wings with a span of 13.7m. Its empennage consists of a horizontal stabiliser and two vertical tailfins that are canted outward. The aircraft accommodates two crew members in tandem seat configuration with pilot in front and electronic warfare officer at rear.
The under-fuselage is attached with a retractable tricycle landing gear with two single-wheeled main landing gear units and a twin-wheel nose gear unit. A catapult launch towbar is fitted to the nose and an arrester hook is provided under the rear section of the fuselage.
The cockpit is equipped with advanced crew station (ACS), Joint Helmet-Mounted Cueing System (JHMCS), Multifunctional Information Distribution System (MIDS) / Link 16, and Digital Memory Device (DMD). The JHMCS facilitates head-up control of targeting systems and sensors. The avionics pallet comprises ALQ-218(V)2 system, CCS receiver and an electronic attack unit (EAU).
The EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft is armed with two AGM-88 high-speed anti-radiation missiles (HARMs) and two AIM-120C AMRAAM air-to-air missiles.
The military aircraft is fitted with two Northrop Grumman ALQ-218(V)2 wingtip pods with a wideband receiver and selective reactive jamming capability.
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Two ALQ-99 low-band and high-band jammer pods manufactured by EDO Corporation are fitted under the wings. The tactical jamming system can intercept, process and jam signals received from enemy radar and communications systems.
Antennae onboard the aircraft include a satellite communications (SATCOM) antenna and a communication countermeasures set (CCS) antenna, which transmits signals through the low-band ALQ-99 jammer pod.
The aircraft also features APG-79 active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar, SATCOM terminal, INterference CANcellation System (INCANS), antenna interface unit (AIU), and a long-baseline interferometer. The INCANS is used to improve situational awareness and communication capability and offers UHF communications capability during ALQ-99 jamming.
The EA-18G Growler is powered by two F414-GE-400 engines, which generate a maximum thrust of 22,000lb each. The aircraft has a maximum speed of 1,960km/h and can fly at an altitude of 50,000ft. It can reach a range of 1,570km when fitted with external fuel tanks.
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