Next-generation EW pods for Australian Growlers under contract


Efforts to upgrade the Royal Australia Air Force (RAAF)’s Boeing EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft have advanced with a US$650.4 million sole-source contract for the production and delivery of 15 low rate initial production (LRIP) Lot III Next Generation Jammer (NGJ) Mid-Band (MB) ship sets – 11 for the US Navy and four for the RAAF – awarded on 30 March.

Most of the work will be performed in Forest, Mississippi and Dallas, Texas and expected to be completed in April 2024, according to the US Department of Defense (DoD). The contract award includes an Australian obligation of US$182.4 million.

In February the Australian Department of Defence (DoD) announced a programme to boost the capabilities of the RAAF’s Growler fleet under Project Air 5349 Phase 6-Advanced Growler. It earlier disclosed that planned enhancements include modifications to sensor systems, long-range anti-radiation missiles, as well as airframe upgrades.

According to US Naval Air Systems Command (NAVAIR), the Australian DoD is collaborating with the US Navy on the development of two NGJ systems. This includes the AN/ALQ-249 NGJ-MB, which addresses the middle frequency bands of the electromagnetic spectrum.

This system comprises two pods per shipset, as well as minor hardware and software modifications to the EA-18G to enable carriage and operation.

The second system being developed is the NGJ Low Band (NGJ-LB), which is designed to address advanced and emerging threats in the lower frequency bands of the electromagnetic spectrum, according to NAVAIR.

The NGJ-MB and NGJ-LB will collectively replace the current AN/ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming System on the Australian EA-18Gs. The type can carry up to five AN/ALQ-99 tactical jamming pods, two under each wing and one under the fuselage. A typical mission package comprises three pods, with two wing-mounted pods configured for high-frequency electronic attack, while a centreline pod is configured for low-frequency operation.

Under the Advanced Growler programme, Australian company CEA Technologies, has also been awarded a US$190 million contract to provide advanced capabilities for the RAAF’s electronic warfare ranges.

The service operates 11 EA-18Gs with the aircraft assigned to the Amberley based No 6 Squadron.

by Jr Ng