Civilians got up close and personal with two RAAF Boeing EA-18Gs

The Royal Australian Air Force [RAAF] has invited civilians from the community of Port Hedland to come together and celebrate 100 years since Australia’s first round-the-world flight. The military displayed two Boeing EA-18G Growler fighter jets and a C-27J Spartan support aircraft, giving the public an opportunity for a closer look. 

Civilians got up close and personal with two RAAF Boeing EA-18Gs
Photo credit: RAAF

On May 3, children, families, community members, government officials, and others had the chance to view the state-of-the-art military air gear. Port Hedland is currently hosting Exercise Centenary Redimus, an event specially planned to commemorate the centenary of Australia’s inaugural circumnavigation flight. The exercise paused to allow pilots to escort guests around the runway and exhibit the displayed military equipment. 

The RAAF seized the day to demonstrate its capabilities. The C-27J Spartan and Boeing EA-18G Growler took to the skies for a short, yet maneuvers-packed joint operation display flight over the Australian coastline. 

Australia currently operates 12 Boeing EA-18G Growlers, all designed specifically for electronic warfare. Globally, only Australia and the United States have these combat aircraft in their arsenal. Out of the 172 units produced, a significant number operate from US Air Force bases domestically and internationally.

Electronic warfare package in the EA-18G

The main electronic warfare package component in the Australian EA-18Gs is the AN/ALQ-99 tactical jamming system, designed to disrupt enemy radar and communications systems. The AN/ALQ-99 system is complemented by the AN/ALQ-218 broadband receiver system. This system is capable of detecting, identifying, and localizing signals over a wide frequency range, providing the Growler with a comprehensive picture of the electromagnetic environment. 

Additionally, the Growler is equipped with the AN/ASQ-228 Advanced Targeting Forward-Looking Infrared [ATFLIR] system. This system offers long-range detection and target identification, as well as high-resolution infrared and visible imagery. Another key component of the Growler’s electronic warfare suite is the AN/AYK-14 mission computer. This computer coordinates the operation of the aircraft’s electronic warfare systems, ensuring that they work together effectively to detect and counter threats. 

Finally, the Growler is fitted with the AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Defensive Electronic Countermeasures [IDECM] system. This system equips the Growler with the ability to detect and counter advanced radar-targeted threats, enhancing the aircraft’s survivability in complex and hostile environments.

Extensive experience

The RAAF’s Boeing EA-18G Growlers have extensive experience not only in exercises but also in actual combat missions. One of the most significant was their deployment to the Middle East as part of Operation Okra, Australia’s contribution to the international effort against ISIS. This operation took place from 2014 to 2017 and the Growlers were used primarily for electronic warfare and surveillance, disrupting enemy communication and radar systems. 

Another key mission involving Australia’s EA-18G Growlers was Exercise Red Flag in Nevada, USA, in 2016 and 2018. Moreover, the Growlers participated in Exercise Pitch Black in Northern Australia, a biannual multinational military deployment exercise organized by the Royal Australian Air Force. 

In 2017 and 2019, Australian EA-18G Growlers participated in Exercise Talisman Saber, a biennial Australian-US military exercise. In 2018, the Growlers were deployed in Exercise Bersama Shield, a five-force defense exercise held in Southeast Asia.

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