Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Australia May Buy 12 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and 12 E/A-18G Growler Aircraft

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) has notified the United States Congress of a possible sale of 12 multi-role F/A-18E/F Super Hornet fighter aircraft and 12 E/A-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft to Australia.

The total value of the US Foreign Military Sales contract, including associated equipment, parts, training, and logistical support would amount to roughly $3.7 billion.

If the aircraft are indeed acquired, they would join 24 two-seat F/A-18F already in service and another 71 of the older F/A-18, which are now in the process of being upgraded.

Those Super Hornet aircraft were originally acquired as a gap filler between the retirement of the F-111 in 2010 and the arrival of the F-35 in 2014. Delays and other F-35 problems have now postponed this schedule by several years.

Australia had been expected to acquire 100 F-35, but that number is now in doubt and may be reduced substantially. This has already happened in other countries such as Italy, which has already cut the number of F-35 it plans to acquire.

Australia is also one of the eight partner countries of the US in the F-35 program. By helping fund development of the F-35, it is entitled to a share of the work worth billions.

The Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet is an enlarged version of the F/A-18 and has:
  • a length of 18.31 m
  • a wingspan of 13.62 m
  • a height of 4.88 m
  • an empty weight of 14550 kg
  • a maximum takeoff weight of 29940 kg
The aircraft is powered by 2 General Electric F414-GE-400 turbofans with 98 kN thrust  each in afterburner.

The EA-18G Growler is a specialized electronic warfare version of the two-seat F/A-18F, which can be fitted with:
  • AN/APG-79 Active Electronically Scanned Array radar
  • AN/ALQ-218 wideband receivers on the wingtips
  • ALQ-99 high and low-band jamming pods
  • AIM-120 AMRAAM missiles
  • AGM-88 HARM missiles
The EA-18G Growler will succeed the EA-6B Prowler and would make Australia the first export customer.

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