The federal government will go ahead with the conversion of 12 of Australia’s 24 F/A-18F Super Hornets into EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion.
The decision, announced today, will see Australia become the only country besides the United States to operate Growlers, a specialised variant of the Super Hornet. The Growler capability includes advanced jamming systems aimed at aircraft and land-based radars as well as enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors.
The RAAF’s Growlers are expected to be available for operations from 2018, Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Defence Materiel Minister Jason Clare said in a joint statement today.
The government purchased 12 Super Hornets pre-wired for Growler conversion in 2009 at an additional cost of $35 million, and included the capacity to acquire the Growler kits in the May 2012 budget.
The estimated $1.5 billion purchase, which will be made through the US Foreign Military Sales program, will include conversion kits, supporting equipment and systems, spare parts, training and initial training systems.