The Royal Australian Air Force'could be the first non-U.S. military service to operate'EA-18 Growler electronic attack aircraft under a deal announced in Australia today.
The deal is also noteworthy for the fact that it indicates the U.S. is willing to share some of its'most advanced technology with close allies -- neither the EA-6B nor EF-111 jammers were exported. The EA-18G deal comes not long after the Pentagon agreed to let the U.K. buy RC-135 Rivet Joints, the highly sensitive signals intelligence system.
Australia is not buying'new Growlers; instead it'would modify 12'of the F/A-18E/Fs the country previously committed to buying under'a'A$6.6 billion program.'
‘Wiring twelve of the Super Hornets as Growlers will give us the opportunity to provide taxpayers with better value for money,’ defense minister Joel Fitzgibbon says. A final decision on buying Growlers, including the jamming kit,'is expected around 2012.
The electronic attack'modification'‘will also provide the Super Hornets with counter-terrorism capability through the ability to shut down the ground-based communications and bomb triggering devices of terrorists,’ Fitzgibbon notes.
At this point, the government is making''a A$35 million' downpayment so half of the 24 F/A-18E/Fs on order could be turned into Growlers. Making the wiring and other internal modifications now, while the fighters are in build,'is cheaper than a retrofit program, the Australian government says.'A'further A$300 million would be needed to complete the Growler effort.
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