Above: A Royal Australian Air Force F/A-18 Growler takes off from RAAF Base Williamtown during Exercise Diamond Shield on March 20, 2019. Commonwealth of Australia/Sgt Shane Gidall
INITIAL OPERATING Capability (IOC) has been achieved for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft. The milestone was announced by the RAAF on April 30.
The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies said IOC for the Growler was a significant achievement in Defence’s efforts to improve joint electronic warfare capability. He 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.”
The Growler capability includes new electronic attack aircraft fitted with purpose-built jamming pods as well as a suite of advanced weapons.Flight training devices and support facilities have been built and delivered to RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland, where the type is flown by 6 Squadron. Final Operating Capability is anticipated in 2022.
The RAAF has taken delivery of 12 Growlers, but one, A46-311, was declared a write-off after an engine fire at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, on January 27, 2018, while participating in Red Flag. It is now in storage with the 309th Aerospace Maintenance and Regeneration Group at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona. Th RAAF plan to buy an attrition replacement for this aircraft to bring it up to its full strength of 12 EA-18Gs again.