The US State Department has approved the sale of a single Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft for Australia.
A September 30 Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) notification says the aircraft will be drawn from US Navy stocks and will be modified to a configuration the same as the RAAF’s 11 current EA-18Gs. The new aircraft will replace an RAAF Growler that was lost after an engine failure on takeoff at Nellis AFB in January 2018.
Following an extensive investigation, the loss of the aircraft – which had flown fewer than 120 hours – was attributed to a fault in one of the engines’ high pressure turbines. But neither the US Navy, Boeing, nor engine manufacturer General Electric offered any compensation for the loss.
The notification says the US$125m (A$160m) sale will include a Lot 38 or later build EA-18G Growler, as well as engineering and modification, verification and validation flight test efforts, US Govt and contractor engineering/technical assistance, related studies and analysis support, and programmatic, technical, and logistics support.
Australia acquired 12 EA-18Gs under Project Air 5349 Phase 3, with the first being rolled out in July 2015. The fleet achieved an initial operational capability in April 2019, and a full operational capability is planned for 2022/23 in parallel with the RAAF’s F-35A fleet.