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$600m contract to sustain, enhance RAAF Super Hornet, Growler EW capability

Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy has announced a $600 million contract to sustain and upgrade the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleets for the Royal Australian Air Force.

Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy has announced a $600 million contract to sustain and upgrade the F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleets for the Royal Australian Air Force.

The five-year contract extension, awarded to Boeing Defence Australia will support more than 350 Queensland jobs and will see support for the Super Hornet and Growler programs continue until 2030, ensuring the long-term retention of a highly skilled expert workforce at RAAF Base Amberley.

Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy welcomed the contract announcement and its impact on Australia’s defence industry workforce, saying, “The Albanese Government knows the most valuable Defence asset we have are our people. That’s why we’re investing in over 350 highly skilled local jobs and delivering on our commitment to ensure Australia has a robust Defence industry.”

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“I commend Boeing Defence Australia and all Defence industry partners involved with the maintenance and sustainment of the Super Hornet and Growler fleets,” Minister Conroy added.

The Air Combat and Electronic Attack Sustainment Contract with Boeing Defence Australia commenced on 1 July 2016 for an initial period of 5 years, this is the second contract extension, taking the overall contract value to $1.2 billion.

“In a time of escalating global tensions, maintaining top-tier aircraft and a highly skilled local workforce is paramount. This contract extension fortifies our preparedness for any potential challenges,” Minister Conroy said.

Scott Carpendale, Vice President and Managing Director of Boeing Defence Australia welcomed the signing of this new contract, saying, "This five-year contract extension is testament to the strength of our partnership with the Commonwealth of Australia, Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Australian industry in enhancing Australia’s air combat and electronic attack capability."

The F/A-18F Super Hornet is larger than the F/A-18A/B Hornet, with the aircraft's increased wing area allowing it to carry more stores (mounted devices) on its additional hardpoints, Australia's fleet of F/A-18F Super Hornets are based at No. 1 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley.

"Since commencing sustainment for Super Hornet in 2010 and Growler in 2017, we've developed a world-class team, enhanced local capability through increased Australian industry involvement, delivered to operational aircraft availability requirements, and provided fleet upgrades," Carpendale added.

The contract extension comes as the EA-18G Growler Airborne Electronic Attack capability reaches final operational capability.

Operated by No. 6 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley, the Airborne Electronic Attack capability is comprised of 12 EA-18G Growler aircraft, the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System and the AGM-88 series of anti-radiation missiles.

Based on F/A-18E/F Super Hornet variant of the wildly successful Boeing Hornet, the EA-18G Growler has proven itself to be an invaluable asset to the US when deployed overseas. The Growler incorporates a number of advancements over the traditional Super Hornet, including:

  • An additional avionics suite;
  • Enhanced radio frequency receivers;
  • An improved communications suite; and
  • ALQ radio-frequency jamming pods, which enable it to jam enemy systems.

Initially purchased alongside the more traditional Super Hornet variants to supplement Australia's ageing fleet of classic Hornets and the diminished strike capability following the retirement of the F-111s, prior to the full integration of the Air Force's 72 planned F-35s.

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