Wing Commander Paul Jarvis, Deputy Director Growler Transition, and Flight Lieutenant Sean Rutledge in front of a US Navy EA-18G Growler at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Oak Harbor, Washington. [Photo:Defence]
An important step in the
introduction of the Royal Australian Air Force’s electronic warfare capability
has commenced, with the first pilot instructor commencing flying on the EA-18G Growler in the US.
Flight Lieutenant Sean Rutledge has
commenced training with the Electronic Attack Wing, US Pacific Fleet (CVWP) at
Naval Air Station Whidbey Island.
Once he’s completed his
training, Flight Lieutenant Rutledge will be qualified to instruct other RAAF
aircrew for the 12 EA-18G Growlers the Australian Government is purchasing from
the United States Foreign Military Sales
Wing Commander Paul Jarvis,
Deputy Director EA-18G Growler Transition team, believes training with the US
Navy is essential.
"Training with CVWP is essential to our ability to establish a
credible airborne electronic attack capability," he said.
"We've started early as there is an awful lot to learn between now and
when we begin flying our own EA-18Gs in 2017. The support that we have had from
the US Navy, particularly from Captain
Springett and his team here at NAS Whidbey Island has been truly
magnificent. They have really made us feel welcome as new members of the
"Growler is a game changer for the Royal Australian Air Force. With its
unique mix of capabilities it provides multiple options to commanders, all of
which reduce the risk to supported Australian Defence Force or coalition forces
whilst increasing their lethality," Wing Commander Jarvis said.
Over the next three years, six crews (comprised one pilot and one electronic
warfare officer) from RAAF will learn to fly EA-18G Growler at the US Navy’s
Electronic Attack Squadron 129 (VAQ-129), with assistance from the US Program
Management Office (PMA-265) at Naval Air Systems Command in Patuxent River,
Flight Lieutenant Rutledge said his previous flying experience will support his
transition to the EA-18G Growler. He has several multi-national exercises
under his belt including Exercise Red Flag held at Nellis Air Force Base,
Nevada. He spent three years flying F-111s, and another three years flying
F/A-18F Super Hornets at RAAF Base Amberley, Queensland.