Australia buys 12 EA-18G Growlers

Officials say Australia has become the first country other than the United States to buy Boeing EA-18G Growler advanced electronic warfare technology.

Defense Minister Stephen Smith said Thursday the Australian air force will equip 12 of Australia’s F/A-18 Super Hornet jet fighters with Growler radar-jamming equipment and other gear to knock out a wide array of electronic devices. The upgrade starting in 2018 will cost $1.5 billion.

The sharing of rare U.S. military technology now in service with the U.S. Navy comes as the United States deepens its defense ties with Australia and juggles its might in the Asia-Pacific region in response to the rise of China.

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Michael Hoffman
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  • Johnny Ranger

    OK, according to Wikipedia (I know, not always a temple of factual information), The Aussies purchased 24 Super Hornets, half of which were “wired” to allow the possibility of conversion to Growler configuration at some point down the road. The article references an “upgrade”, which leads me to believe that they are not “buying 12 Growlers”, but rather completing the conversion of 12 existing SH’s to Growler configuration. Am I interpreting the article correctly, or are these 12 new aircraft, in addition to the original 24?

    • blight_

      Makes you wonder what the hardware tradeoffs are between operating in the E- mode and the F- mode…

    • JJMurray

      You are interpreting this correctly. They will add in the appropriate components to 12 aircraft they purchased so that they will be functioning Growlers, though from what I understand they will actually be sort of a Growler -lite and not quite as functional as our own G models.

  • eaglemmoomin

    Wow so on a simplistic level thats $125 million dollars per plane just to modify them then, ouch.

    • blight_

      For contrast, navy procurement.

      Growlers are on page N-3A.

      Not sure what the PY vs CY is supposed to mean…

      • Johnny Ranger

        Prior year vs. current year?

        • blight_

          That works.

    • Steve

      It appears they can afford it, and then some.
      They are among the worlds wealthiest nations now.

  • therock

    Makes sense. AUS has always been a reliable ally and with the emergence of power in Asia we would be shooting ourselves in the foot by hoarding effective capabilities. It’s pretty obvious to see where our projection lies. F-22s in Japan and Alaska. Marines being positioned into Australia. All part of the chess game.

  • Stan

    I’m glad we’re sharing our highest electronic tech with our close allies the Aussies. They have stood beside us in every war we’ve ever fought and to my knowledge have never compromised any of the tech we have sold them. Unlike some of our allies like S. Korea, Japan, Israel, ect.

  • BlackOwl18E

    Australia buying EA-18G’s at the cost of decreased F-35s? Sounds awesome. They are going to rely on jamming and SEAD to effectively kill SAMs.

    • William C.

      This is unrelated to the Australians arguing over F-35 numbers. When the RAAF bought the F/A-18Fs they had some of them wired with the capability to be modified to EA-18G standard. This seems to be them going ahead with that option, not buying new airframes.

      • BlackOwl18E

        They had them modified to be converted into the EA-18G only if they didn’t think the F-35 turning out well. The EA-18G was their back up plan to increase their capability. Also, the money they spent on upgrading those Super Hornets to the Growler is all money that would have been spent on buying F-35s:

  • RunningBeard

    Mutual benefits, the RAAF flying the Growler will add significant “front line” ISR data to the systems databases. With EW being a truly ‘daily” dynamic environment, upgrades of technology and tactics are constant. With limited basing in SW Asia, the USN can significantly benefit from the exposure of the RAAF Growlers in their AO. Having the Aussies honed to a “fine edge” in EW will bring to the table, resources unlikely available from other allies. This training and practice will be invaluable to the RAAF in transition to the F-35 and it’s EW suite.

  • Nick Hanlon

    Just as’s the Royal Australian Air grandfather who served with themwould absolutely insist upon that or just calling them the Raaf.

  • Dan d’Errico

    At least one ally will keep some of companies going if sequestration takes hold. EF-18Gs in the land down under, GREAT!

  • Nicky

    Why don’t AUS just cancel the F-35 and go with either the F-15SE or the Super Hornet program and the Growler program. They could save themselves a boat load of money in canceling the F-35 and going with the Super Hornet and Growler program.

    • tiger

      They could save even more with a Saab Gripen. Meanwhile The Kiwi’s have ditched fighters & attack planes entirely. Just sold the last of their A-4’s

      • Nicky

        For Australia, A SAAB Gripen is not appropriate for them. Australia is more of a Super Hornet and Growler. Now if it was the Kiwi’s, then Yes a SAAB Gripen is appropriate for them, because the cost to operate them is less and it is a multi role for them.

        • Tiger

          Not Appropriate?

          • The Gripen simply doesn’t have a long enough range to cover the vast distance the RAAF operates in.

          • Nicky

            It’s why if the Kiwis wanted to get back into the Fighter game, they can always go with a Gripen. A Gripen would not be good for Australia because vast distances of Australia. Where as the Gripen, distance would not be an issue and cost to run it would be cheaper than the Super hornet.

          • Steve B.

            Ummm… SH has a radius of 390nm, ferry range of 1800nm. Grippen has a radius of 500nm, radius of 2000nm.

            Now some of those figures are variable and dependent on payload, but neither aircraft could be considered “long range”, when compared to say a Strike Eagle, which has greater payload and range.

          • Yes, but the Super Hornets were acquired as a follow on to the RAAFs existing Classic Hornets & as a bridge to the F-35, so you shouldn’t compare the Gripen to the F/A-18E/F, but rather to the F-35 JSF which has a Combat radius of at least 584nmi, the JSF will replace the Classic Hornets & at least half of the Super Hornets, the Growlers however will probably be kept & work alongside the F-35 JSF.

          • tiger

            Wow, 84 miles and slower speed for what price?



    • Matt

      Tsk, tsk, using capital letters is no substitute for the facts…

      • blight_

        Almost thought there was room for Obamaspiel until I realized YOUNG is from Aus.

        I guess angry people are the same the world over…

    • Young (too)

      mate, you hit your head or something?? Our CAPITALIST standard of living is arguably better the yours (the US?).

      Also, go Obama. We think that dude rocks (mads given in 3…2..1…)

      • YOUNG


  • P.C. or die

    Can’t some people read? It clearly says EA-18G.

    • blight_


      “Australia buys 12 EA-18Gs…”

      Para 2:

      “…the Australian air force will equip 12 of Australia’s F/A-18 Super Hornet jet fighters with Growler radar-jamming equipment…”

    • Tom

      This made me lol, Mr Abbott.

  • Matrix_3692

    i was just wondering when my country, Malaysia is going to have enough budget to upgrade it’s small fleet of Hornet D to G variant. My country’s AF don’t even have a dedicated electronic plane to date.

    • FlightDreamz

      Unfortunately only F/A-18E and (preferably) F/A/-18F Super Hornets can be upgraded/rebuilt to an EA-18G Growler. Older F/A-18A (thru D) models are a smaller, different airframe and can’t be rebuilt to a “Growler” standard. And Malaysia is not alone in not having a dedicated electronic plane. Electronic attack is a neglected art in many air forces.

      • SJE

        Unlike Australia, Malaysia has a troubled diplomatic relationship with the US and Western nations, not least because it finds all sorts of reasons to cast the West as bogeymen. The USA would be unwise to share its top technology with Malaysia.

        • Matrix_3692

          so, i take this is the reason for why the U.S. is giving us a hard time on supplying some AMRAAMs for our hornet fleet.

  • blight_

    I wonder if an appropriately wired SH can be converted “in the field” (or whatever passes for in the field for the Marines) to the Growler config as needed. It could be interesting…

    • JJMurray

      Nope, not even close. The changes are pretty major. Even with the wiring in place you wouldn’t be able to do this in the field or even on the flight line back home.

      • blight_

        Which means they have to fly them back to the factory for the modifications/install?

  • PolicyWonk

    The US Navy thought it was a good idea to create another jamming platform – while the USAF did not – and are subsequently now far behind. Apparently the “chair-force” thought stealth was the only solution.


    The only planes the RAAF has got in the last 5 years is 2 C17,S, what a joke.

    • Steve

      Dude, the RAAF has bought A330 Tankers, 4 more C-17’s, 28 Super Hornets and A320 AWACS. You dream, sir. On which planet other than Earth do you live? They have spent something like $12 Billion in just the last two or three years. Big bucks for such a small AF.



    • dave

      You silly person! you wouldn’t know a communist if he was up you with an arm full of deck chairs. FYI the ALP has always out sent the conservatives on defence.

      • Perth

        The ALP have never outspent the Libs on defence. Look at the current mob under Gillard who have slashed billions from capability. The lowest level of GDP since 1938.

  • Anthony Burrows

    It would make more sense for the RAAF’s future combat forces to be F/A-18F Super Hornet, EA-18G Growler and F-22 Raptor. The F-35 Lightning is NOT suitable to Australia’s needs and it has become an exspensive farce.