Tag Archives: Royal Australian Air Force

Australian EA-18G Growler Jet Damaged in Incident at Nellis Air Force Base

Aircraft Photographed with Smoke from End of Runway. Crew Reported as Uninjured.

A Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft is being reported as damaged in an incident that occurred at 10:45 AM local time on Jan. 27 at Nellis AFB, outside Las Vegas, Nevada, according to a statement issued by Nellis AFB and quoted in the Sydney Morning Herald.

The aircraft, one of a contingent of four Australian EF-18G Growlers at Nellis AFB for the Red Flag 18-1 air combat exercise, is part of the 340-person contingent of the Royal Australian Air Force participating in this year’s first Red Flag Exercise.

Red Flag is a large-scale, highly realistic air combat exercise originating from Nellis AFB and taking place over the large air combat training ranges that surround the area.

Early reports in both Australian and U.S. media say the aircraft is from the RAAF No. 6 Squadron who are participating in Red Flag now. There are also reports that the Australian EF-18Gs are “operating alongside US Navy EA-18Gs” at Nellis as indicated in a January 2018 article on Combat Aircraft magazine’s website.

Australian journalist Elena McIntyre of Ten News Sydney reported in a tweet that an “RAAF Growler apparently experienced a critical engine failure during takeoff at Nellis AFB, before skidding off the runway. Pilot and ground crew are safe.”

According to an article in Australia’s Air Force magazine, the first RAAF EA-18G Growler instructor pilot began flying the electronic warfare aircraft in the U.S. at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island in the United States in November 2013. Production of the first of 12 RAAF EA-18G Growlers began in 2015. Before that, RAAF flight crews trained on the U.S. EA-18Gs with the U.S. Navy’s Electronic Attack Squadron 129, “The Vikings”, permanently stationed at NAS Whidbey Island, in Washington state.

Photos from the accident that appeared on Twitter show the aircraft sitting upright, intact, with the canopy open and the leading-edge slats and arrestor hook down. There appears to be discoloration on the left vertical stabilizer from dark smoke also seen in photos that appeared on Twitter.

RAAF photos distributed prior to the incident show the four aircraft at Nellis AFB, with one of them painted in a special color scheme with a bright blue and yellow tail and upper fuselage. Based on the photos shown on Twitter the aircraft involved in the incident appears to be one of the other three aircraft without the special color scheme.

EA-18G Growlers from Number 6 Squadron arrive at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, for Exercise Red Flag 18-1. *** Local Caption *** The Royal Australian Air Force has deployed a contingent of approximately 340 personnel to Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada for Exercise Red Flag 18-1, taking place from 29 January to 16 February 2018.
Established in 1980 by the United States Air Force, Exercise Red Flag centres on the world’s most complex reconstruction of a modern battlespace and is recognised as one of the world’s premier air combat exercises. The exercise involves participants from the United States Navy as well as the United Kingdom.
For 2018, an AP-3C Orion, E-7A Wedgetail and a Control and Reporting Centre have been deployed on the complex, multi-nation exercise. Four EA-18G Growler aircraft from Number 6 Squadron have also been deployed for the first time on an international exercise, since being transferred to the Royal Australian Air Force in January 2017.
Training alongside allied nations is critical to the success of Air Force units on real world operations; helping develop further familiarity with foreign terminology, methods and platforms.

The RAAF received their first EA-18G Growlers in 2017. The aircraft are to be operated from the Australian RAAF Base Amberley about 50 km (31 miles) southwest of Brisbane.

So far there has been no official report about the status of the Red Flag 18-1 flight operations following the incident, even though no much disruption is expected.

For the first time in 10 years a B-1 bomber conducted CAS training “in the vicinity of Australia”

A “Bone” deployed to Guam has taken part in Close Air Support training with Royal Australian Air Force near Australia for the first time in at least a decade.

On Oct. 25, a U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer assigned to the 34th Expeditionary Bomb Squadron and deployed to Guam from its homebase at Ellsworth AFB, S.D., conducted integration training with Royal Australian Air Force JTACs (joint terminal air controllers.)

Role of the JTACs, previously known as FACs (Forward Air Controllers), is to provide precision terminal attack guidance of CAS (close air support) assets from a forward position.

Indeed, their role is to act as a sort of “broker” between the commander of the troops on the ground and the pilot, working embedded on a patrol, in the vicinity of the enemy, in an armored vehicle, or from the Tactical Operations Center of a Forward Operating Base.

Through the  ROVER (Remote Operations Video Enhanced Receiver) system made available by the pods carried by several aircraft (such as the Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infrared – ATFLIR – pod that the F-18s carry on the left side of the fuselage or the Sniper pod in case of the B-1), the JTACs are able to receive realtime footage from above on a portable terminal similar to a Playstation. Such live video streaming is used to determine whether the pilot is cueing the weapons to the correct ground target (and avoid friendly fire or collateral damage).

B-1s have already proved to be able to support ROVER Internet Protocol Network, or RIPN, project, in September 2013 when they were able to form a network through the Lancer’s Sniper pod to several ROVERs on the ground, effectively allowing them to pass digital close air support targeting coordinates or sensor points of interest to the B-1 crew.

According to the U.S. Air Force, this was the first time in at least 10 years that B-1s have conducted close air support training in the vicinity of Australia.

The B-1B is part of Pacific Air Force’s CBP (Continuous Bomber Presence) mission to Guam, where the aircraft, belonging to the 28th Bomb Wing deployed on Aug. 6, 2016 to replace the B-52 (and deter North Korea and China.)

CAS are among the most frequent missions flown by the “Bones” against ISIS during their 6-month deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve last year: when they returned stateside in January 2016, the B-1s had flown 490 sorties dropping 3,800 munitions on 3,700 targets.

Epic selfie catches moment EA-18G Growler pilot fires an AGM-88 HARM missile

Flight Lieutenant Todd ‘Woody’ Woodford, an Australian officer assigned to VAQ-135, launches an AGM-88 HARM All-Up-Round from a Growler.

The above selfie was taken by a Royal Australian Air Force pilot, FLTLT Todd Woodford, assigned to VAQ-135, a U.S. Navy Squadron that operates the EA-18G Growler, during a live fire exercise off the coast of Pt. Mugu, CA.

The Boeing EA-18G Growler is an Electronic Warfare/Attack variant of the two-seat F/A-18F Super Hornet that replaced the EA-6B Prowlers in U.S. Navy service.

Along with actively jamming enemy communications, the Growler, operating in a networked environment along with other two aircraft of the same type can use its EW pods to geo-locate a signal source and target it from stand-off distance with air-to-surface missiles.

According to the Tailhook Association, Woody, leading a division of three EA-18G aircraft during the live-fire portion of the US Navy’s graduate electronic warfare tactics course, HAVOC, became the first Aussie pilot to launch a HARM missile.

The RAAF officer is one of six Australian aircrew serving in US Navy expeditionary EA-18G squadrons as part of a bilateral Personnel Exchange Program, and is the first international partner to complete the HAVOC course. Woody will rejoin the VAQ-135 Black Ravens following HAVOC for his second deployment to the U.S. Pacific Command area in the EA-18G this fall.

In 2013, Australia committed to purchasing 12 EA-18G, 30+ ALQ-99 Tactical Jamming Pods, associated AEA equipment, and AGM-88 HARM and AARGM weapons. The integration of RAAF aircrew into US Navy operational squadrons has been on-going since the fall of 2014. Integrating, training and developing deployed experience in the EA-18G is a critical component to the Australia-US strategy for partnership in Airborne Electronic Attack.

Australia will take delivery of their first EA-18G at NAS Whidbey Island, WA in January 2017.

Photo credit: FLTLT Tood Woodford, VAQ-135. A big thank you to the Tailhook Association for allowing us to post this fantastic shot along with the caption.

Curious video shows a DHC-4 Caribou doing the “wheelbarrow” landing

Watch this unusual air display performed by a Royal Australian Air Force DHC-4 Caribou.

Taken in 1988, at RAAF Base Richmond, the following clip shows the RAAF De Havilland Canada DHC-4 solo display flown during the Australian Bicentennial Air Show.

What it makes this video interesting is the “wheelbarrow” done by the Australian pilot at 0:43.

As it can be seen in the footage, a skilled pilot is required to perform such a spectacular maneuver: in fact, the Caribou driver maintains a very low rate of descent in order to avoid a nose landing gear breakage caused by a harsh touchdown on the runway.

First Australian F-35 has arrived for training at Luke Air Force Base

The first Royal Australian Air Force F-35A Lightning II jet landed at Luke Air Force Base marking the first international partner F-35 to arrive for training at the airbase in Arizona.

On Dec. 18, the first Australian F-35A Lightning jet arrived at Luke Air Force Base where it will be used for pilot training beginning in 2015.

The aircraft, known as AU-2, was flown on its 90-minute transit from Lockheed Martin’s plant in Fort Worth, Texas, to Luke by U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Todd “Torch” LaFortune. It was then assigned to the 56th Fighter Wing, that already operated a fleet of 17 F-35s.

The arrival of AU-2 at Luke AFB marks the first of 10 international partners starting training in the US. The second F-35A for Australia, designated AU-1, is scheduled to arrive at Luke Air Force Base in the next few days.

The RAAF is expected to operate 72 such multi-role planes from two airfields, Williamtown, in New South Wales, and Tindal, in the Northern Territory, along with the current fleet of Australian F/A-18F Super Hornet (some of those are deployed in the UAE to support U.S. led campaign against ISIS) and EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft.

As a side note, Luke AFB is the base where fuel trucks have been given a two layer coating of “solar polyurethane enamel” (whose outer color is white) to prevent fuel stored in the tanks from over-heating with consequent F-35 engine issues.

RAAF F-35 Luke taxi

Image credit: U.S. Air Force