Three state-of-the-art aircraft from the United States were officially welcomed to Australia this morning by Australian defence personnel.

The planes are in at RAAF Amberley air base for a bi-lateral training program to help Australian pilots get ready for the new planes.

Jonathan Ayre reports.


All the ‘top guns’ were at Amberley this morning.

Defence Minister Stephen Smith, Air Force Chief Geoff Brown and US Ambassador Jeffrey Bleich, welcoming the three US FA-18 Growlers to Australia.

Stephen Smith, Minister of Defence: “This is the first occasion we’ve seen US Navy Growlers come to Australia to start the training and exchange of expertise required to have a growler capability.”

Mr Smith said that this was an important first step towards Australia having its own Growler fleet.

We’ll be the first country outside the US to have the aircraft possible because of the two nations’ close relationship.

Jeffrey Bleich, US Ambassador to Australia: “The Growler is our most sensitive and sophisticated and some of our most important equipment and it would only be in a case where we tusted another nation the way we trust Australia that we would be prepared to share it.”

The Growler’s technology enables pilots to control enemy electronic devices on the ground.

Geoff Brown, Australian Air Force Chief: “If you need to do any operation in the future, one of the things you’ve actually got to be able to do is dominate the electromagnetic spectrum with your operations.”

For the next two weeks RAAF and US pilots in both the Growlers and Australia’s Super Hornets will take to the skies in a bi-lateral training exercise.

Australia announced earlier this year it would upgrade 12 of its 24 FA-18 Super Hornets to the Growler variant.

It expects to have the Growlers operational by 2018.

Jonathan Ayre, QUT News.