• An artist impression of the EA-18G Growler. [Photo:RAAF]
    An artist impression of the EA-18G Growler. [Photo:RAAF]

With the introduction into service of 12 EA-18G Growlers in 2018 or thereabouts, the RAAF will, for the first time, have an airborne electronic attack capability which will be able to disrupt or jam a range of military electronics systems, such as air defence systems.

Used in either a stand-off or escort jamming role, this EA capability will enable the penetration of hostile territory for strike and ground-support missions.

However, all of this assumes that counters to the venerable ALQ-99 tactical jamming pod, or other high powered tactical jammers capable of outmatching the ALQ-99, are somehow not to be found in the inventories of those whom we may somewhat euphemistically describe as 'relatively more advanced adversaries'.

It has been reported that a US Navy document soliciting sources for the next generation jammer (NGJ) dismisses the current system as out-classed indicating that the aging ALQ-99 tactical jamming system lacks the capability to match today’s complex integrated air defence, communication, data link and non-traditional radio frequency (RF) threats.

Reference has been made to a 'deluge of data that is overwhelming the warfighter'.

This being the case, one might wonder what steps are being taken to ensure that the EA-18G electronic attack capability, widely touted by senior RAAF luminaries as a state of the art system, but now also seen as a potential liability, will be reinstated big-time with the introduction into RAAF service of the ALQ-99's replacement—the NGJ.

Defence plans to achieve Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the EA-18G in 2018, not long before the NGJ is introduced into US Navy service. - TM/USN

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