AVALON, Australia — Australian Defence Minister Marise Payne announced Tuesday that Australia has entered into an agreement with the U.S. Navy to develop the Next Generation Jammer for the Boeing EA-18G Growler, an airborne electronic attack aircraft.

Payne announced the AUD $250 million (U.S. $192 million) investment during the opening day of the 2017 Australian International Airshow at Avalon, south of Melbourne.

"This is a $250 million investment by the Turnbull government that will [serve as] future proof [of[ the Growler's capability," she said. "As this is a rapidly evolving area, we will work in partnership with the United States Navy to develop the next-generation jamming capability, which will ensure that these aircraft remain at the technological forefront throughout their service life."

The Next Generation Jammer will form a key component of Project Air 5439 Phase 6, a future phase of Australia's Growler acquisition program, which will upgrade the EA-18G to what is known as the Advanced Growler configuration. The program will ensure commonality with U.S. Navy aircraft is maintained into the future and will develop a replacement for the Growler's current ALQ-99 jamming pods.

Payne, who is also a senator for New South Wales, was speaking in front of a Royal Australian Air Force EA-18G, one of two that had flown into the show earlier, landing on the tarmac at Avalon. 

Australia is acquiring 12 Growlers; the first batch of four had been delivered to RAAF Base Amberley, southwest of Brisbane, a few days earlier. The aircraft at Avalon represented the first public display of the aircraft in Australia.

"The EA-18G Growler will operate as part of our networked and integrated force, capable of sharing electronic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data with other aircraft, as well as with the Army and Navy," said Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies. "The Growler is powerful and flexible. It can undertake a range of non-kinetic tasks, ranging from jamming to blocking radar displays and suppressing an adversary's air defense system."

The Growler will provide the Australian Defence Force with a tactical jamming capability, which is only matched by the U.S. Navy.

All 12 aircraft will have been delivered to Australia by the middle of 2017, and initial operational capability is due to be achieved in mid-2018. Final operational capability is set to follow in mid-2022.