Growlers and Hornets join US drills in Guam

written by Adam Thorn | July 24, 2020
A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport A39-005 aircraft conducts an air-to-air refuelling serial with two FA-18A Hornets during the Regional Presence Deployment.
A Royal Australian Air Force KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport A39-005 aircraft conducts an air-to-air refuelling serial with two FA-18A Hornets during the Regional Presence Deployment (RAAF)

An RAAF taskforce comprising of EA-18G Growlers, F/A-18A Hornets, an E-7A Wedgetail and a KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport will take part in drills in the US island territory of Guam, in the western Pacific.

The training, alongside the US military, is designed to improve integration with Royal Australian Navy warships such as HMA Ships Canberra, Hobart, Stuart, Arunta and Sirius.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said, “Exercising as a joint force across air and sea allows the Navy and Air Force to understand each other’s warfighting activities, to fight better in the maritime environment, make decisions quickly and fully employ their forces across multiple domains.

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“Some of our most advanced capabilities, including the EA-18G Growler and the guided missile destroyer, HMAS Hobart, will be able to integrate in a combined air and sea environment.”

The ‘Air Task Unit’ is set to return to Australia in late July 2020.

Australian Aviation first reported that the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft reached initial operating capability (IOC) in April 2019.

Getting to IOC comes five and a half years after the first RAAF EA-18G pilot commenced his training in October 2013 with the Electronic Attack Wing, US Pacific Fleet at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island near Seattle.

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Over the next three years, an initial cadre of six crews each comprising a pilot and an electronic warfare officer (EWO) learnt to fly and operate the jet with the US Navy’s VAQ-129.

The first RAAF Growler, A46-301, was rolled out at Boeing’s St Louis facility in July 2015.

The RAAF has said previously it was targeting final operational capability (FOC) for the Growler in 2022.

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