Australia buys Growler systems for Hornets

Aug. 31, 2012 at 6:30 AM
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CANBERRA, Australia, Aug. 31 (UPI) -- Australia has confirmed it will acquire Growler electronic warfare systems for its Super Hornet aircraft through the United States Foreign Military Sales process.

The Growler upgrades and systems will allow the Australian air force to jam the electronics systems of enemy aircraft and land-based radar and communication systems, Australian Defense Materiel Organization said.

Australia has 24 Super Hornets, 12 of which were wired so one day they could carry the Growler system, made primarily by Northrop Grumman, at a cost of $35 million, a report by the Australian Broadcast Corp. news said.

The estimated cost of the project is $1.5 billion, which includes funding for the Growler conversion kits, supporting equipment, spares and training systems.

"We will become the only country other than the United States to have the Growler electronic warfare attack capability," Defense Minister Stephen Smith said.

Boeing's EA-18G Growler is a carrier-based version of the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet but with Northrop Grumman's Growler electronic warfare systems.

Boeing began production of the EA-18G in 2007 and the aircraft entered operational service in late 2009.

The Unites States used the Growler effectively for escort jamming during its air campaign in Libya last year, an Australian Defense Department statement said.

The Growler upgrades for the 12 Super Hornets is in line with the 2009 Australian Defense White Paper which specified a need for advanced airborne electronic warfare capabilities to maintain air superiority.

The Australian air force has received 24 Super Hornets from Boeing as a part of a $6 billion deal with the United States. The deal is to bridge the capability gap between the aging F-111 fighter bomber and the arrival of Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, a report by Air news Web site said.

Minister for Defense Materiel Jason Clare also unveiled the first Australian made part for the first Australian Joint Strike Fighter AU-1.

The precision component manufactured by Lovitt Technologies in Melbourne is part of the structure that attaches the aircraft's wings to its fuselage, the DMO said.

It will now be shipped to Lockheed Martin in Fort Worth, Texas, where it will be combined with parts from all over the world to assemble Australia's first F-35A Joint Strike Fighter.

After a detour to Arizona for training and testing, it will be transported back to Australia in 2018 as the first of a fleet of next generation fighter jets.

"It leaves as a part and comes back as a plane -- one of the most advanced fighter planes in the world," Clare said.

"Australian companies have been manufacturing parts for Joint Strike Fighters for 10 years, but these are the first major parts that have been made for an Australian Joint Strike Fighter. Australian companies have already won more than $300 million worth of work on the JSF Program," Clare said.

In May, Lovitt Technologies announced it had won a contract with Boeing worth nearly $1 million for wing parts for all F/A-18 Super Hornet fighters worldwide.

Lovitt Technologies was started in 1954 by George Lovitt as a supplier of machined parts for the automotive sector. It employs around 80 staff involved in machining, assembly and testing of aero structures.

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