To date, the service that has invested the most in EW platforms seems to be the RAAF. This is the pattern in many other countries because of the need for aircraft to penetrate heavily defended air space, often saturated with hostile ground based and airborne radars, and to protect themselves from missiles that also use this technology for guidance, homing and proximity fusing.
All combat aircraft carry at least a radar warning receiver – and the ability to jam enemy radar sites and communications are essential capabilities for modern operations. These functions are often carried out by separate aircraft such as Growlers with onboard and podded jammers designed to disrupt various radar frequencies. Given the flexibility of electronically scanned radars, several platforms not specifically designed for EW nevertheless have powerful jamming and spoofing capabilities, with F-35 and E-7A Wedgetail on top of the list.
Looking at specialised EW aircraft, as outlined in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan, Defence will deliver a mix of air platforms and ground support systems that will contribute to Australia’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), electronic warfare, and strike capabilities.
Defence will invest in key related capabilities including AIR 555 (MC-55 Peregrine), and the EA-18G Growler.
Royal Australian Air Force No. 6 Squadron EA-18G Growlers recently participated in Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021.
EA-18G Growler aircraft, along with their F/A-18F Super Hornets, are regularly upgraded throughout their service life to ensure ongoing operational relevance, and to maintain commonality and interoperability with the US Navy fleet.
Defence says this is achieved via the Air Combat and Airborne Electronic Attack (ACEA) spiral upgrade program managed by the Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group. As the US Navy develops capability upgrades, they are considered for implementation within the Australian fleet under the ACEA spiral upgrade program.