THE BIG STING: The first EA-18G Growler destined for 6 Squadron takes off from the Boeing Aircraft Delivery Centre.
THE BIG STING: The first EA-18G Growler destined for 6 Squadron takes off from the Boeing Aircraft Delivery Centre. Richard Rau

Squadron gets bigger sting

AMBERLEY'S 6 Squadron might be officially farewelling its Super Hornet fighter bombers in a formation flypast today, but they will soon be packing an even tougher 'sting'.

Australia will be the only nation equipped to fly the formidable EA-18G Growler electronics warfare aircraft, outside of the USA.

The Growler, using the same F/A18 airframe and engines as the RAAF's current Super Hornets, is designed to attack and neutralise communication and electronic warfare capabilities of hostile forces, flying alongside the bomb- and missile-equipped Super Hornets.

The Growler is currently used only by the United States Navy, often operating from aircraft carriers in support of conventional bomber attacks.

Rather than being sold off, the 12 Super Hornets currently flown by 6 Squadron will remain inuse at Amberley, joining the strength of the adjoining 1 Squadron.

The new Growlers will continue a long tradition of 6 Squadron in an aggressive combat role, including bombing operations in New Guinea during World War Two flying Hudsons and Beauforts.

Later, 6 Squadron Lincoln bombers played an integral role in the Malayan emergency, disrupting Communist Terrorist operations.

To mark the end of the Super Hornet's career with 6 Squadron, five aircraft will today undertake a farewell flight, with a scheduled take off time of 10am.

The five aircraft will fly southeast to Evans Head, in northern New South Wales, before flying up the coast line from Coolangatta to the Sunshine Coast.

The flight will then head southwest to land at Amberley after completing a 'fan pitch' manoeuvre.

The aircraft are scheduled to depart Amberley at 10am, arriving over the Evan's Head weapon range at 10.45am, then flying over Coolangatta at 10.55am.

From there, the jets will pass over Stradbroke Island at 11am, Double Island Point at 11.20am, Gympie at 11.25am, Kilcoy at 11.35am and finally landing at Amberley at 11.40am.

A Defence spokesman said the flight has been cleared for 'low level', meaning the jets will be travelling at around 1000 metres above the ground, with all times 'plus or minus five minutes'.