CANBERRA, Australia (AP) -- Australia wants to become the first country to win U.S. export approval to buy the Boeing EA-18G Growler advanced electronic-warfare fighter jet, an official said Friday.
Senior Australian defense officials recently traveled to Washington to discuss purchases of the fighter jet, said Christian Taubenschlag, spokesman for Defense Minister Joel Fitzgibbon.
The United States has never allowed exports of the jet, an advanced version of the Boeing F/A-18 Super Hornet.
Australia's previous government announced last year that it had signed a 6 billion Australian dollar (US$4.6 billion) contract to buy 24 Super Hornets as a transitional aircraft, to be phased out by the Lockheed F-35 Lightning Joint Strike Fighter over the next decade.
The new government, which came to power in November, wants to add advanced weapons systems to several of those jets.
"We're looking at upgrading a number to Growlers," Taubenschlag said. The number is yet to be decided, he said.
Unlike the Super Hornet, which carries missiles or cannons, the Growler is equipped with radar-jamming equipment and other gear to knock out a wide array of electronic devices.
Boeing Co. delivered its first Growler last year to the U.S. Navy, which plans to buy 85 by 2013.