Minister for Defence Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare today announced that the Government had decided to acquire the Growler electronic warfare system for the Super Hornet, at a cost of around $1.5 billion.
In acquiring this capability, Australia will be the only country in the world, other than the United States, operating Growler aircraft.
Growler is an electronic warfare system that gives the Super Hornet the ability to jam the electronics systems of aircraft and land-based radars and communications systems.
Electronic threats are an inherent part of modern combat and Growler will provide options for the Air Force to undertake electronic threat suppression operations in support of Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations, including land and sea forces.
The Growler capability can also undertake intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Australia has 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets. The Super Hornet is a highly capable, battle proven, multi role combat aircraft currently in service with the US Navy.
The Growler is a specialised version of the Super Hornet and is also currently in service with the United States Navy. The Growler electronic warfare aircraft was used very effectively by the United States Navy during air operations in Libya last year.
The 2009 Defence White Paper outlined the Government’s view that the ADF would require additional capabilities to maintain air superiority into the future, including acquiring an airborne electronic warfare capability.
In May 2009, the Government announced its decision to wire 12 of 24 Super Hornets for potential conversion to the Growler configuration. This occurred at a cost of $35 million.
In March this year, the Government announced that in addition to the decision to wire 12 Super Hornets for potential conversion to Growler, the Government would spend nearly $20 million to purchase long lead item electronic equipment for the Growler.
The decision to purchase this equipment was made to ensure that Australia continued to have access to the Growler technology should a decision be made to acquire it.
The May 2012 Budget included a capacity to acquire Growler, and it was included in the Public Defence Capability Plan released in July this year.
The Government has now made the decision to acquire the Growler electronic warfare system for the Super Hornet.
The Growlers will be available for operations from 2018.
The purchase of this equipment is being made through the United States Foreign Military Sales process.
The total capital cost estimate for this project is around $1.5 billion. This includes funding to acquire the Growler conversion kits, supporting equipment and systems, spares and training and initial training systems.
Source/Author: Australian Department of Defence
Photo: U.S. Navy