The US Congress has been notified of the possible sale of 12 EA-18G Growler conversion kits to Australia for $1.7 billion, another sign that the RAAF will move ahead with plans to convert half of its F/A-18 Super Hornets to the electronic warfare variant.
In a statement released today, the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency said the Australian Government had requested the possible sale of the kits, including 34 AN/ALQ-99F Tactical Jamming System Pods, 22 CN-1717/A Interference Cancellation Systems, 22 R-2674 Joint Tactical Terminal Receiver Systems, 30 LAU-118 Guided Missile Launchers and spare parts, training and support.
In late March, Australia ordered $19 million worth of electronic systems, antennas and other “long-lead” items for the potential Super Hornet-to-Growler conversion, though at the time Defence officials said no decision had been made on whether to move ahead with the conversions. The notification to Congress is a formal part of the US Foreign Military Sales process and doesn’t mean the deal is done, but the writing would increasingly seem to be on the wall.
Australia purchased 12 of its 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets pre-wired for Growler conversion.
The Growler, which is replacing the EA-6B Prowler in US Navy service, has seen action over Afghanistan and Libya. When fitted with ALQ-99 jammer pods, the EA-18G has the ability to either ‘close down’ an entire area over a wide electronic spectrum, or alternatively can target specific spectrums such as those used by mobile phone networks or radio bands. Even without the jammers pods, through its comprehensive receiver suite the Growler can impart additional electronic situational awareness via datalinks to other aircraft such as Super and classic Hornets, Wedgetail AEW&C, or even naval vessels.