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TAE Aerospace to Revamp Engine Test System for Australia’s Super Hornets, Growlers

TAE Aerospace has received a contract to modernize the F414 engine test system of the Royal Australian Air Force’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and EA-18G Growler aircraft.

The upgrade will replace the control and data acquisition system (CDAS) hardware and software of the testing platform, operational for over 10 years and reaching obsolescence.

CDAS enables aircrew to gather engine metrics and determine their impact on an aircraft’s performance.

The solutions being provided under the contract will be integrated into the F414 test cell at RAAF Base Amberley in Queensland and the backup test cell at RAAF Base Williamtown in New South Wales.

Work on the contract will be completed by 2025.

“TAE is extremely proud and excited to be engaged by Defence to deliver this test system upgrade project over the next two years, and in doing so will assure the future of the F414 engine testing capability in Australia,” TAE CEO Andrew Sanderson said.

A46-305 EA-18G Growler from No. 6 Squadron conducts air-to-air formation flying off the coast of South East Queensland. *** Local Caption *** On 07 December 2021, No. 6, No. 1 and No. 36 Squadrons from RAAF Base Amberley conducted a formation flying activity with EA-18G Growlers, F/A-18F Super Hornets and a C-17A Globemaster III Aircraft off the coast of South East Queensland.
A46-305 EA-18G Growler from No. 6 Squadron conducts air-to-air formation flying off the coast of South East Queensland. Photo: CPL Jesse Kane/Australian Department of Defence

Maintaining Reliable Engine Support

The F414 CDAS initiative comes after the reconstruction of the Amberley engine test facility completed in 2021.

The depot modification allowed the air force and its partners to sustain F135 engines for the international F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program and conduct associated tests in Australia.

“TAE’s comprehensive system upgrades will now ensure that these critical engine test facilities remain reliable and sustainable to support our air combat capabilities well into the next decade,” Australian Air Combat and Electronic Attack Systems Director Val Lawson stated.

AU-1 First Flight at Fort Worth, Texas. Pilot Al Norman, the F-35 Chief Test Pilot, flying Australia's first F-35. *** Local Caption *** FORT WORTH, Texas, September 30, 2014 – Australia’s first Lockheed Martin, F-35A Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter, made its inaugural flight on Sept. 29, marking another significant milestone for the Royal Australian Air Force’s F-35 program. Lockheed Martin F-35 Chief Test Pilot Alan Norman, piloted the aircraft through a series of functional checks for the sortie that lasted two hours. The aircraft, known as AU-1, is scheduled for delivery to the Royal Australian Air Force later this year and will be assigned to Luke Air Force Base, Arizona. Australia and partner countries will use the jet for F-35A pilot training. The F-35 Lightning II aircraft provides the Royal Australian Air Force with a transformational 5th generation fighter capability and significant benefits for the Australian aerospace industry. Australian industry already has more than $412 million (USD) contracted.

Recent Super Hornet and Growler Modernization

The Australian Department of Defence and Raytheon signed a $76.68-million agreement in 2022 to deliver training services for the nation’s Super Hornet and Growler Fleet.

The same year, the US Navy awarded Lockheed Martin a $49.3-million contract to equip Australian Super Hornets with long-range anti-ship missiles.

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