Initial Operating Capability (IOC) has been achieved for the EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.
The Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies said IOC for the Growler was a significant achievement in Defence’s efforts to improve joint electronic warfare capability.
“Over time, this aircraft will work with Army and Navy platforms to enhance our ability to control the electronic environment, and where necessary, deny or degrade the electronic systems of adversaries,” Air Marshal Davies said. “This will provide a capability edge by enhancing tactical options to reduce risks to Australian and partner maritime, land and air forces in more complex and high-tech conflicts of the future.”
The Growler capability includes new electronic attack aircraft fitted with purpose-built jamming pods as well as a suite of advanced weapons. Although F-35As on ground attack missions can operate closer to a layered ground-based air defence system than legacy fighters, an EW expert speaking on condition of anonymity told ADM that the Growler could and should still be utilised to provide significant additional protection.
“Ultimately, the F-35A can influence only the electronic battle within the frequency of its own AN/APG-81. It’s unlikely to address a threat not in its database or outside its own radar band, whereas an EA-18G could discern the threat’s capabilities and suppress it if needed,” the EW expert said.
AIRMSHL Davies recently told ADM that RAAF intends to replace the Growler lost last year, when an uncontained engine failure led to a high speed rejected take off and the aircraft was damaged beyond repair by the subsequent fire.
"We said to government when we got Growler approval, that 12 was the number we needed to fill our Preparedness Directive. My recommendation to Defence would be to replace the Growler," AIRMSHL Davies said. "When that occurs though is really the nub of your question, and that will be around when we fit it in to the next IIP (Integrated Investment Plan)."
Flight training devices and support facilities have been built and delivered to RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland.