De­fence goes ahead in leaps and bounds

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - IAN McPHEDRAN

AUS­TRALIA’S re­gional air power dom­i­nance is as­sured with the de­liv­ery on Wed­nes­day of the first of 12 RAAF EA- 18G “Growler” elec­tronic war­fare jets.

The Boe­ing- built air­craft was un­veiled dur­ing a lav­ish cer­e­mony at the com­pany’s St Louis pro­duc­tion plant.

As a brass band belted out pa­tri­otic tunes hun­dreds of guests in­clud­ing re­cently re­tired RAAF chief Air Mar­shal Ge­off Brown, Mis­souri Gover­nor Jay Nixon, Boe­ing staff and a large con­tin­gent of RAAF of­fi­cers in­clud­ing Air Com­bat com­man­der Air Com­modore Steve Rober­ton ad­mired the most ex­pen­sive Aus­tralian fighter jet ever to carry the kan­ga­roo mark­ings.

“It will have the big­gest strate­gic ef­fect on the ADF since the F- 111 in the 1970s,” Air Mar­shal Brown said.

Taxpayers will fork out about $ 3.7 bil­lion for the dozen planes, weapons, train­ing, life sup­port and the con­struc­tion of spe­cial elec­tronic ranges near Am­ber­ley and at Brad­shaw south of Dar­win.

The US Navy, with 153 of the jets, and the RAAF, will op­er­ate what is billed as the world’s most pow­er­ful elec­tronic at­tack fighter jet. The RAAF’s Am­ber­ley- based Num­ber 6 Squadron will op­er­ate the hi- tech fight­ers.

The Growler’s elec­tronic weapons can knock out sys­tems from mis­sile radars to mo­bile phone net­works.

DOM­I­NANCE: Air Com­modore Steve Rober­ton with the first Aus­tralian EA- 18G

‘ Growler’ jet in St Louis.

ELEC­TRONIC WAR­FARE: A new Aus­tralian

‘ Growler’ jet.

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