A new Boeing EA-18G Growler has been delivered to RAAF Amberley, boosting availability and returning the RAAF’s electronic attack aircraft fleet to a full complement.
The aircraft was acquired as an attrition aircraft to replace one extensively damaged and subsequently written off in a take-off accident at Nellis AFB in January 2018. The planned acquisition of a replacement aircraft was announced in September 2021.
The EA-18G Growler project has been an extraordinary success for the RAAF and Defence more broadly given the sophistication of the system and challenges associated with its speedy integration into the force structure. The first RAAF Growler, A46-301, was rolled out at Boeing’s St Louis facility in July 2015. The RAAF’s first two EA-18G aircraft made their public debut at the 2017 Avalon Airshow, and all 12 had been delivered by mid-2017.
The Growler achieved an initial operational capability (IOC) with the RAAF in April 2019, and a fully operational capability (FOC) is expected to be achieved with the delivery of a new electronic training range being developed as part of the Project AIR 5439 Phase 6 Advanced Growler program.
Phase 6 will also include the cooperative development of the AN/ALQ-249(V)1/2/3 Next-Generation Jammer (NGJ) system with the US Navy, enhancements to the aircraft’s core computer, cockpit displays, and other upgrades in parallel with the US Navy’s Growler Block II program, and the acquisition of the Northrop Grumman AGM-88E2 Advanced Anti-Radiation Guided Missile (AARGM) and the new AGM-88G AARGM-ER.
Australia was approved to acquire the advanced AARGM-ER by the US State Department on 27 February 2023. The AARGM-ER features a new lifting body airframe and new motor to almost double the range of the AGM-88E.