Aerial Warfare

Boeing Defence Australia Awarded RAAF Contract to Sustain and Upgrade Super Hornet and Growler

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Boeing Defence Australia Awarded RAAF Contract to Sustain and Upgrade Super Hornet and Growler

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A formation from Air Force of three F/A-18A Hornets, and an EA-18G Growler from fly over a Navy task group of HMA Ships Canberra, Hobart, Stuart, Arunta and Sirius
A formation from RAAF of F/A-18A Hornets, and an EA-18G Growler from fly over a RAN task group.

More than 350 local Queensland jobs will be secured under a new $600 million contract to sustain and upgrade the F/A-18F Super Hornet fighter aircraft and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft fleets for the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF). The five-year contract extension, awarded to Boeing Defence Australia, 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. Australians working in the Defence industry will oversee the engineering, maintenance and project management for the sustainment and upgrade of the fleets. The Australian Government is firmly committed to supporting Australia’s Defence industry and workforce.

The Minister for Defence Industry, Pat Conroy said: “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. 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. A strong Defence industry is also crucial to protecting Australians and their interests, as well as contributing to regional stability. I commend Boeing Defence Australia and all Defence industry partners involved with the maintenance and sustainment of the Super Hornet and Growler fleets.”

Royal Australian Air Force Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet  fighter aircraft. (Photo by RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft. (Photo by RAAF)

Importantly, more than 90 per cent of the contract value will be spent in Australia, and primarily in south-east Queensland. 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. 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.

On 3 May 2007, the Australian Government signed a $2.9 billion contract to acquire 24 F/A-18Fs as an interim replacement for the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) aging F-111s. It was reported that the order would also address any difficulties that might be caused by a need to quickly replace the RAAF’s existing fleet of classic F/A-18A/B Hornets in the event of delays to the F-35 program. The total cost of the purchase, with training and support over 10 years, was expected to be A$6 billion (US$4.6 billion). In February 2013, the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for up to 12 F/A-18E/Fs and 12 EA-18Gs with associated equipment, training and logistical support. In May 2013, Australia announced the order of 12 new EA-18Gs instead of converting any F/A-18Fs.

Royal Australian Air Force Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft. (Photo by RAAF)
Royal Australian Air Force Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft. (Photo by RAAF)

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