The EA-18G Growler’s range of abilities are so advanced – and, let’s be frank, achingly cool – that it should be on the receiving end of a call up to The Avengers. The boffins call it an “airborne electronic attack” but to you and me that means its role is to fly over enemy bases and jam their defences, paving the way for fighters behind. Naturally, it has air-to-air missiles if things get hairy, too.
The Growler is a variant of the Super Hornet, but it differs in several key areas. Gone is its nose-mounted gun, and in its place, it carries two ALQ-218 tactical jamming receivers (TJR) pods on its wingtips and up to five ALQ-99 jammers on centreline and wing stations. This technology allows it to both shutdown enemy defences if it senses they’re onto it or proactively jam them anyway using its radar. It’s so clever that it can even take out specific frequencies and comms devices only, locating their emitters.
Its true genius, however, is that its high-tech abilities come with low-tech running costs because the same staff who maintain the Super Hornet can also work on the Growler, saving on support and training. RAAF has a fleet of 11, operated by No. 6 Squadron and based at RAAF Base Amberley. The first only arrived in 2017.
The coolest bit? RAAF is the only Air Force outside of the US to own any – handing Australia an extraordinary super power for a smaller nation.