The aircraft flew in for their appearance at the airshow having recently been ferried to Australia from Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in the US.
“This is a beast; it was built to be a war aircraft and that is exactly what we plan to use it for,” said Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies, welcoming the arrival of Australia’s first electronic warfare aircraft on Tuesday.
“This is a precision instrument; it is something we can use to fit into the rest of the Australian [order of battle]; it is something that we need to learn how to use.”
Meanwhile, Minister for Defence Senator Marise Payne announced that Australia is set to partner with the US in the development of a next-generation radar and radio jammer for the Growler with an investment of $250 million.
“Electronic warfare is a rapidly evolving area and we want to ensure that these aircraft remain at the technological forefront throughout their service life, so we will work in partnership with the United States Navy to develop that next-generation jamming capability,” Minister Payne said.
The Growler is capable of providing force-level electronic warfare support by disrupting, deceiving or denying access to an adversary’s electronic systems, including radars and communications systems.
“Integration is the key; it is not just about aeroplanes,” Air Marshal Davies said.
“I expect this aeroplane to spend more time flying with the Army and the Navy than it actually does with the Air Force.”
By the middle of this year, all 12 aircraft are expected to have arrived at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland to be operated by 6 Squadron.
Australia is the only country besides the US to fly the Growler.