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Boeing unveils first Growler attack aircraft for Australian Air Force


First Royal Australian Air Force EA-18G Growler rollout ceremony at St. Louis, US. An Australian MoD photo

ST. LOUIS, USA (BNS): US defence major Boeing has officially presented the first EA-18G Growler airborne electronic attack aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF), making Australia the only other nation outside the US to fly the jet.

The aircraft, designated A46-301, was presented by Boeing and the US Navy to the RAAF at a ceremony in St Louis, United States in the presence of former Chief of Australian Air Force, Air Marshal Geoff Brown (ret'd) on July 29.

"The Growlers will complement our existing and future air combat capability, and ours will be a much more lethal force with this advanced technology," Air Marshal Brown said.

A derivative of the F/A-18 Super Hornet, EA-18G is the only aircraft in production providing tactical jamming and electronic protection.

The Growlers enhance the RAAF's current fleet -- which includes 24 Super Hornets -- and advance 'Plan Jericho,' an initiative to transform the RAAF into an integrated, networked force able to deliver air power in all operating environments, Boeing said in a statement.

The first Growler will fly to Naval Air Station China Lake, California for flight testing and then Naval Air Station Whidbey Island, Washington, where RAAF operators will continue training with US Navy pilots to gain expertise in the highly technical electronic warfare mission.

The RAAF is expected to take delivery of the aircraft in 2017.

The second RAAF Growler has also made its first flight, while the following 10 aircraft are in various stages of assembly at Boeing's St Louis plant.

All the 12 aircraft are expected to arrive in Australia by the end of 2017.

Boeing had received the contract for the Growlers in June 2014.

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