Australia – F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler Aircraft
WASHINGTON, February 28, 2013 – The Defense Security Cooperation Agency notified Congress Feb. 27 of a possible Foreign Military Sale to Australia for up to 12 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft and 12 EA-18 GGrowler aircraft and associated equipment, parts, training and logistical support for an estimated cost of $3.7 billion.
The Government of Australia has requested a possible sale of up to 12 F/A-18E/F Super Hornet aircraft, 12 EA-18G Growler aircraft, 54 F414-GE-402 engines(48 installed and 6 spares) 2 engine inlet devices, 35 AN/APG-79 Radar Systems, 70 AN/USQ-140 Multifunctional Informational Distribution System Low Volume Terminals (MIDS-LVT) or RT-1957(C)/USQ-190(V) Joint Tactical Radio Systems, 40 AN/ALQ-214 Integrated Countermeasures Systems, 24 AN/ALR-67(V)3 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Receiving Sets, 72 LAU-127 Guided Missile Launchers, 15 M61A2 Vulcan Cannons, 32 AN/AVS-9 Night Vision Goggles or Night Vision Cueing Device System, 40 AN/APX-111 Combined Interrogator Transponders, 80 AN/ARC-210/RT-1990A(C)Communication Systems, 100 Digital Management Devices with KG-60’s, 36 Accurate Navigation Systems, 30 AN/AYK-29(V) Distributed Targeting Systems(DTS), 4 AN/PYQ-21 DTS Mission Planning Transit Cases, 24 AN/ASQ-228 Advance Targeting Forward Looking Infrared (ATFLIR) Pods, 40 AN/PYQ-10 Simple Key Loaders (SKL), 80 KIV-78 Mode 4/5 Module, 48COMSEC Management Workstations (CMWS), 24 AN/ALE-47 Electronic Warfare Countermeasures Systems, 80 Joint Helmet Mounted Cueing Systems (JHMCS), and 400 AN/ALE-55 Fiber Optic Towed Decoys. Also included are system integration and testing, tools and test equipment, support equipment, spare and repair parts, publications and technical documents, personnel training and training equipment, aircraft ferry and refueling support, U.S. Government and contractor technical assistance, and other related elements of logistics and program support. The estimated cost is $3.7 billion.
Analysis? It could be that the 12 Growlers mentioned will be F models that have the special wiring in them should Australia decide to set up those aircraft to the G configuration. Much like how the previous 24 aircraft have be done.
We will know more if Australia decides to take the option of purchasing more Super Hornets. The above announcement lays the ground work. A real order could have a very different mix of E and F models. If Australia decides to keep the fighter organisation status-quo this could cause some problems. There are significant plans at RAAF Williamtown for facilities layout for direct and dedicated F-35 support. So, if more Super Hornets are added, do you abandon this and stand up a Super Hornet operational training unit there or somewhere else?
A lot of questions to be answered. But, the implied threat to LM and the F-35 program is there in-place with this new request. Will this solve Australia's long-term air supremacy needs? Well, the Super is useful, but limited for high end threats. But the F-35 is not capable of taking on high end threats threats either. For everything else, the Super brings so much more value. Not a hard task when compared to the Just So Failed.
For this whole thing to look like anything more than a knee-jerk reaction and lazy analysis by Defence of long term needs will be difficult.