Boeing is pre-wiring 12 of the Royal Australian Air Force’s (RAAF) Super Hornet for potential conversion of the aircraft for Electronic Attack role. At present the Australians have not decided whether to equip the aircraft with such capabilities. According to RAAF Group Capt. Steve Roberton, Officer Commanding 82 Wing currently operating these fighters, the ability to introduce an electronic attack capability on part of the Australian Super Hornets provides maximum flexibility for future missions. “Ultimately, if a decision to incorporate an electronic attack option is pursued, it will further expand the broad capability of an already formidable Super Hornet weapon system.” Robertson said.
Pre-wiring prepares the infrastructure on aircraft to feed RF signals, power, and cool the unique payloads associated with electronic surveillance and attack. Pre-wiring will enable a standard Super-Hornet Block II to carry Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) payloads (ALQ-218 radar band and ALQ-227 communications scanners) as well as the ALQ-99 Electronic Attack jammer. Both are currently employed with the U.S. Navy’s F-18G Growler. Australia is the first Super Hornet customer to follow the ‘pre wiring’ track. Boeing completed the production of the first batch of 12 Australian F/A-18E/Fs and is on schedule to deliver the last of the 24h Super Hornets in 2011. According to Boeing’s Australian Super Hornet program manager, Carolyn Nichols, the pre-wired configuration reduces the cost associated with future retrofit at a later date”
The 24 F/A-18E/F Block II Super Hornets ordered by Australia in 2007 are multirole aircraft, able to perform virtually every mission in the tactical spectrum, including air superiority, day/night strike with precision-guided weapons, fighter escort, close air support, suppression of enemy air defenses, maritime strike, reconnaissance, forward air control and tanker missions. Adding an Electronic surveillance and Attack capabilities will dramatically enhance the nation’s cyber-warfare potential to engage future adversaries with non lethal but highly effective, means.