U.S. Clears Australia To Buy One EA-18G Growler To Replace Aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair At Nellis in 2018

RAAF EA-18G Nellis
6 Squadron EA-18G A46-311 after the incident at Nellis AFB (Image credit: RAAF)

The total for the new EA-18G Growler for the Royal Australian Air Force is estimated at 125 million USD.

“The State Department has made a determination approving a possible Foreign Military Sale to the Government of Australia of EA-18G Growler Aircraft, Related Defense Services, and related equipment for an estimated cost of $125 million. The Defense Security Cooperation Agency delivered the required certification notifying Congress of this possible sale today.”

On Sept. 30, 2021, the U.S. State Department approved the sale of an EA-18G destined to replace the RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) Growler involved in an incident on Jan. 27, 2018, at Nellis AFB, outside Las Vegas, Nevada.

On that day, aircraft serialled A46-311, belonging to the contingent of four EA-18G Growlers deployed with the RAAF No. 6 Squadron to the U.S. to take part in exercise Red Flag 18-1 suffered an uncontained engine failure on take off: according to the Australian accident board, one of the aircraft’s General Electric F414 turbofan engines broke into three major pieces with one segment piercing through the airframe, another one going through the second engine and a third one destroying the right hand side tail.

Immediately after the investigation report was released, the Australian Defense Department tried to claim compensation, but the request was rejected in the very early stages. In 2019, Air Vice Marshal Greg Hoffman, the head of the Defence Department’s Aerospace Systems Division, told Senate Estimates that Australian taxpayers would have to foot the bill: “The US Navy has formally written to us and advised that unfortunately, and it is very unfortunate that we can’t get compensated for this, but the position is there is no compensation,” he said. According to Hoffman, the United States Navy would also receive no compensation from the contractor if it experienced a similar mishap: “The owner and operator holds the liability for the aeroplanes. And what we found out is in this case, the United States’ Navy, should they have lost this aeroplane, they similarly would not have been compensated for it (by) the contractor.”

In order to bring the RAAF Electronic Attack fleet back to the original size (12 jets) a new aircraft (along with follow-on support) should be procured by Australia. The sale, according to the U.S. DSCA (Defense Security Cooperation Agency) “will allow Australia to effectively maintain its current force projection capability that enhances interoperability with U.S. forces well into the future and maintain their original primary level of aircraft authorized”

The aircraft will be provided from U.S. Navy stock. Australian Defence hasn’t announced nor confirmed the proposed sale yet.

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David Cenciotti is a freelance journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written four books.

Source: U.S. Clears Australia To Buy One EA-18G Growler To Replace Aircraft Damaged Beyond Repair At Nellis in 2018

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