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RAAF A46 Boeing EA-18 Growler

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Growler A46 301 
Photo Boeing

 
 

Boeing EA-18G Growler Image Gallery

 
 

On 3 May 2007, the Australian Government signed a contract to acquire 24 F/A-18Fs for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), at a cost of A$2.9 billion, as an interim replacement for the F-111s of 1 and 6 Squadrons under Project Air 5349 Phase 1 (Bridging Air Combat Capability). The total cost with training and support over 10 years was announced as A$6 billion.

In 2008 the Australian Government requested export approval from the US government to purchase up to six EA-18Gs, which would be part of the order for 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets.

On 27 February 2009, Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon announced that 12 of the 24 Super Hornets on order would be wired on the production line for future fit-out as EA-18Gs. The additional wiring would cost A$35 million. A final decision on the conversion to EA-18Gs, at a cost of A$300 million, was planned at that stage to be announced in March 2012.

Meanwhile, the first RAAF Super Hornet was completed in 2009 and first flew from Boeing's factory in St. Louis, Missouri on 21 July 2009. RAAF pilots and air combat officers began training in the USA in 2009, with No. 1 Squadron planned to become fully operational with the F/A-18F in 2010. The RAAF's first five Super Hornets arrived at RAAF Base Amberley on 26 March 2010. These initial aircraft were joined by six more aircraft on 7 July 2010. With the arrival of another four aircraft in December 2010, the first RAAF F/A-18F squadron was declared operational on 9 December 2010.

On 23 August 2012, the Australian Government announced that 12 RAAF Super Hornets would be fitted with Growler capability at a cost of $1.5 billion; making the Royal Australian Air Force the only military other than the U.S. to operate the Growler's electronic jamming equipment.

In December 2012, the Australian government sought information from the United States government about the cost of acquiring a further 24 F/A-18Fs. These aircraft were being considered as purchasing option to avoid a potential capability gap developing due to delays to the F-35 program. In February 2013, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for up to 12 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and 12 EA-18G Growler aircraft with associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support. In May 2013, Australia announced they would keep the 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets they currently have instead of converting them, and will order 12 new-built EA-18G Growlers.

On 3 May 2013, the Australian Government announced that it will buy 12 new-build Growlers under Project Air 5349 Phase 3 - (Growler Airborne Electronic Attack Capability) for delivery by 2017 to supplement the existing Super Hornet fleet while remaining committed to the F-35 Lightning II acquisition.

The Growler fleet was allocated the A46 rather than the A44 prefix to designate these airframes as new build Growlers as distinct from the Growler pre-wired airframes in the F/A-18F Super Hornet fleet.

The first aircraft is due for factory roll out in mid 2015 followed by about 12 months of flight testing to achieve Australian airworthiness.

Deliveries of the first batch of around six aircraft to 6 SQN at RAAF Amberley are expected in early 2017 with the remainder to be delivered later in the year.

The achievement of Initial Operating Capability (IOC) is scheduled for mid 2018 with Full Operational Capability (FOC) set to follow in the early 2020's as a broader range of capabilities are worked up.

 
     
 

See also A44 Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornet

 
     
 
Aircraft Serial Const/No. USN.Serial Aircraft History
A46-301 AG-1 169148 100th Hornet airframe built for the RAAF (preceded by 75 F/A-18A&B Classics and 24 F/A-18F Supers),
116th EA-18G to be built.
13/07/2015 First flight at Boeing’s St Louis facility.
29/07/2015 Formal factory roll out and presentation in front of RAAF and US Navy representatives, Boeing employees and the Governor of Missouri, Jay Nixon.
The first two RAAF Growlers will operate with US Navy Squadron VX-9 "Vampires" for 6 months commencing 01/2017
 

Highlight for Album: EA-18G A46-301

A46-302 AG-2 TBA 24/07/2015 First flight.
The first two RAAF Growlers will operate with US Navy Squadron VX-9 "Vampires" for 6 months commencing 01/2017
A46-303 AG-3 TBA Reported as having been completed but held in storage at St Louis until enough qualified aircrew are trained to bring them home
Scheduled for delivery to RAAF Amberley in 2017.
A46-304 AG-4 TBA Reported as having been completed but held in storage at St Louis until enough qualified aircrew are trained to bring them home
Scheduled for delivery to RAAF Amberley in 2017.
A46-305 AG-5 169152 Arrived at RAAF Amberley 21/02/2017. First public appearance at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon 2017.

Highlight for Album: EA-18G A46-305

A46-306 AG-6 169153 Arrived at RAAF Amberley 21/02/2017. First public appearance at the Australian International Airshow at Avalon 2017.

Highlight for Album: EA-18G A46-306

A46-307 AG-7 TBA Arrived at RAAF Amberley 21/02/2017

Highlight for Album: EA-18G A46-307

A46-308 AG-8 TBA Arrived at RAAF Amberley 21/02/2017

Highlight for Album: EA-18G A46-308

A46-309 AG-9 TBA Reported as having been completed but held in storage at St Louis until enough qualified aircrew are trained to bring them home.
Scheduled for delivery to RAAF Amberley in 2017.
A46-310 AG-10 TBA Reported as having been completed but held in storage at St Louis until enough qualified aircrew are trained to bring them home.
Scheduled for delivery to RAAF Amberley in 2017.
A46-311 AG-11 TBA Reported as having been completed but held in storage at St Louis until enough qualified aircrew are trained to bring them home
Scheduled for delivery to RAAF Amberley in 2017.
A46-312 AG-12 TBA Reported as having been completed but held in storage at St Louis until enough qualified aircrew are trained to bring them home
Scheduled for delivery to RAAF Amberley in 2017.
N/A G-84 168770 This is a US Navy Growler that was used to train RAAF Aircrew
It had a 6 Squadron flash and an Australian flag painted on tail

Highlight for Album: United States Navy 
EA-18G Bu.168770

 
     
 
     

The authors of this page are Darren Crick and Colin Turner (Previously Martin Edwards and Brendan Cowan)

Heading photo; Boeing

Source: Defence Media Centre, RAAF News, www.joebaugher.com , www.defence.gov.au , http://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/australia39s-first-ea-18g-enters-production-400660/ , Australian Aviation,

Emails: Peter Bourke, Andrew McLaughlin, Phil Thompson, Nigel Pittaway

Updated 30th April 2017

 

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