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New plans take off for Growler aircraft facility upgrades

An Air Force EA-18G Growler aircraft dumps its flares during a handling display at Nobby's Beach during the Newcastle Williamtown Air Show 2023. Photo: FSGT Ricky Fuller

The Australian federal government is investigating plans for the construction of new and upgraded facilities for EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.

The Australian federal government is investigating plans for the construction of new and upgraded facilities for EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.

Under the Public Works Committee Act 1969, the parliamentary standing committee on public works will consider a new referral from the Department of Defence into the Facilities to Support Advanced Growler Phase 6 at an estimated cost of $228.2 million.

The works will take place in both Amberley, Queensland, and Delamere, Northern Territory and are expected to deliver new and upgraded facilities for the operation of EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.

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“Public submissions and the public hearings will allow the committee to review the purpose, need and public value of the proposed works,” according to committee chair Graham Perrett.

The committee will travel to Amberley to conduct a public hearing in relation to the project and hear from all individuals or organisations interested in the project.

The deadline for public submissions is later this year on 8 March 2024, with more information available on the Public Works Committee website.

Earlier this year, Australian Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy 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 is expected to support more than 350 Queensland jobs and will see support for the Super Hornet and Growler programs t0 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.

“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.

“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.”

The air combat and electronic attack sustainment contract with Boeing Defence Australia commenced on 1 July 2016 for an initial period of five years. This is the second contract extension, taking the overall contract value to $1.2 billion.

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