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Australia signs contract extension for Super Hornets, Growlers

Australia's extension of a sustainment contract for its Boeing F/A-18F Super Hornets and EA-18G Growlers (pictured) is expected to support further upgrades for both variants. Australia will potentially operate the Super Hornets until at least 2030. (Commonwealth of Australia)

The Australian government has signed a AUD600 million (USD402.6 million) contract extension with Boeing Defence Australia to sustain and upgrade the Royal Australian Air Force's (RAAF's) F/A-18F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler fleet.

The five-year contract will ensure that support for the Super Hornet and Growler fleet is continued until 2030, the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) said on 6 January. The contract is an extension of the ‘Air Combat and Electronic Attack Sustainment Contract', which originally commenced with Boeing Defence Australia on 1 July 2016. That initial contract covered a period of five years.

“This is the second contract extension, taking the overall contract value to AUD1.2 billion,” the DoD said.

“The contract extension comes as the EA-18G Growler Airborne Electronic Attack capability reaches final operational capability,” the DoD added.

According to the DoD, the contract will help maintain “top-tier aircraft and a highly skilled local workforce” in a time of “escalating” global tensions. “This contract extension fortifies our preparedness for any potential challenges,” the DoD said.

The RAAF's Growler fleet is operated by No 6 Squadron at RAAF Base Amberley. The fleet's Airborne Electronic Attack capability comprises 12 EA-18G Growler aircraft with the ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System and the AGM-88 series of anti-radiation missiles. The renewed contract will ensure that Australia can also proceed with its planned upgrade of the EA-18Gs under Project AIR 5349 Phase 6 – Advanced Growler, Janes assesses. This upgrade includes modifications to the EA-18G's sensors.

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