An independent airpower think tank has called on the Australian government to begin converting at least six of the RAAF’s F/A-18 Super Hornets into ‘Growler’ electronic warfare aircraft.
The Canberra based Williams Foundation says a dedicated EW capability remains the “one missing component” of what will soon be the best air power system in Australian history.”
“As operations for the last 20 years have shown, most recently in Libya, the ability to conduct both active and passive EW operations, incorporating roles such as electronic attack, suppression of enemy air defences, force protection, enemy order of battle analysis, and kill chain analysis – is critical,” the foundation argued in a statement.
A dozen of the RAAF’s 24 Super Hornets – the last of which were delivered in October – were purchased pre-wired for Growler conversion, and Defence Minister Stephen Smith late last year confirmed that the federal government was considering converting some of the fighters. The cost of converting six of the Super Hornets into Growlers is believed to exceed $400 million.
Current ADF assets including the F/A-18, the Wedgetail AEW&C aircraft and the AP-3C Orion constitute an “ad hoc EW force,” the Williams Foundation said, “but a specialised system is needed.”