By Rod Mcguirk<I> </I>Associated Press
CANBERRA, Australia — Australia intends to buy 12 Boeing EA-18G Growler advanced electronic warfare technology aircraft.
The government announced last year that its air force will equip 12 of Australia’s F/A-18 Super Hornet jet fighters with Growler radar-jamming equipment and other gear to knock out a wide array of electronic devices from 2018.
But the reviewed defense strategy released Friday said the government now plans to buy 12 new Growlers and to keep Australia’s existing 24 Super Hornets as they are. Australia will be the only country other than the United States to operate Growlers, which are to be replaced eventually by Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighters.
“This important decision will assure a first class air combat capability for Australia through the transition period to the Joint Strike Fighter, which will proceed on its current schedule,” the government said in a statement.
The government has not said when the new Growlers will be delivered or how much they will cost.
Australia plans to buy 14 JSFs for $3.2 billion and is contracted to buy two which will be delivered in 2014 and 2015.
The government announced last year that it was pushing back delivery of most of the JSFs by two years to 2019 as a cost-cutting measure.
The JSFs are to replace the Growlers and Super Hornets which are expected to be retired around 2030.
Defense Minister Stephen Smith said a defense spending increase will be announced on May 14 with the government’s budget for the next fiscal year beginning July 1.