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US clears single Growler for Australia to replace one lost in Nellis AFB fire

Australian Growler
Royal Australian Air Force file photo of a Growler electronic warfare aircraft

The US State Department has approved the sale of a single EA-18G Growler aircraft to the Royal Australian Air Force as a replacement for a jet fighter it lost in an engine blowout in 2018.

Australia lost the Growler during the Red Flag exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, on January 28, 2018.

A subsequent investigation revealed a fault with a high-pressure compressor in the Growler’s engine during an attempted take-off. More specifically, the compressor broke into pieces, piercing through the jet in several places.

The Growler’s crew managed to control the aircraft on the strip and no one was killed in the incident, but the airframe was a write-off. What is more, two of three ALQ-99 electronic jammer pods the jet was carrying for a mission were severely damaged.

The US State Department has now given its green light for Australia to acquire a replacement Growler for an estimated cost of $125 million.

According to the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA), the jet will be provided out of US Navy stocks and modified into a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) EA-18G aircraft configuration.

“This proposed sale will allow Australia to effectively maintain its current force projection capability that enhances interoperability with US forces well into the future and maintain their original primary level of aircraft authorized,” a DSCA statement said.