Boeing has introduced the EA-18 Growler airborne electronic attack aircraft, which is the first of 12 for Australia under a US $2.2 billion acquisition program.
It is the 116th Growler that the company is delivering. The aircraft performed its first flight on July 13, the company announced Wednesday.
Further, the second Australian aircraft is due to be delivered in next month. The first two aircraft will initially be used to certify Australian-specific software with the US Navy at Patuxent River, Maryland, and China Lake, California.
Australia’s Growlers will carry Raytheon Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared (ATFLR) pods and AIM-9X Sidewinders. These capabilities were equipped because the US Growler’s operational experience in Libya as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn, Air Marshal Brown said.
“With the Growler capability we really have a full-spectrum force. In many respects it’s the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle for us.” Brown added.
The deliveries to Australia will start in 2017 and Initial Operational Capability will follow in 2018.
Boeing's F/A-18 and EA-18G program manager Dan Gillian said that the Super Hornet/Growler production line will close at the end of 2017 and is currently reducing the build rate from four aircraft to three aircraft per month.