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Watch as RAAF Growler flies near Brisbane skyscrapers

written by Adam Thorn | September 4, 2023

Photos courtesy of Defence

A RAAF Growler and Globemaster flew close to Brisbane’s skyscrapers last weekend as part of its annual Riverfire festival.

The event, Queensland’s largest fireworks display, itself marked the beginning of the three-week Brisbane Festival featuring music, art, and culture.

You can view a selection of the best videos taken by spectators below.

This year, Riverfire shot off 11 tonnes of fireworks prepared by a crew of 25 personnel from 15 rooftops, barges, and bridges across the city.


Around 500,000 viewers watched the fireworks and a 400-drone light show from local hotspots, including Kangaroo Point Cliffs, Captain Burke Park and Wilson Outlook Reserve.

The event has previously featured flyovers from RAAF F/A-18F Super Hornet aircraft, Army MRH-90 Taipans and EC655 Eurocopter Tigers and Globemaster aircraft, some within 70 metres from Brisbane’s tallest buildings.

Australia currently has eight C-17 Globemaster airlifters, all operated by No. 36 Squadron and based at RAAF Base Amberley. The last was delivered in 2015.

The C-17A Globemaster is a high-wing, four-engine heavy transport aircraft fitted with a cargo bay ramp that allows it to airdrop in-flight. It can also operate from unsurfaced runways as short as 3,500 feet and carry up to 77 tonnes.

The Growler, meanwhile, is a variant of the Super Hornet but differs in several key areas. In place of the nose-mounted gun, it carries two ALQ-218 tactical jamming receivers (TJR) pods on its wingtips and up to five ALQ-99 jammers on centre-line and wing stations.

This technology allows it to both shut down enemy defences if it senses they’re tracking it or proactively jam them anyway using its radar.

It can even take out specific frequencies and comms devices, locating their emitters.

The fleet is operated by No. 6 Squadron and based at RAAF Base Amberley. The first only arrived in 2017, and the RAAF is the only air force outside of the US to own any.

Australian Aviation reported in March how the RAAF quietly replaced a Growler that caught fire in 2018.

Australia had an original fleet of 12, and it was only confirmed it would replace the written-off jet in 2021 at a reported cost of $170 million.

The original aircraft was damaged beyond repair while taking off over the Nellis Test and Training Range in Nevada in preparation for the start of Exercise Red Flag 18-1.

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