New US Navy E-2D Aircraft Goes Operational

Advanced Hawkeye will deploy next year


 WASHINGTON — The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye has been declared to be operational, meaning that deployment training for the US Navy’s newest airborne warning and control aircraft can begin in earnest.

Initial Operational Capability (IOC) for the Advanced Hawkeye was achieved Oct. 10 when Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 (VAW-125) was certified to have five operational aircraft, five trained air crews and a fully-certified maintenance team.

With IOC declared, the VAW-125 Tigertails now will train with Carrier Air Wing 1, scheduled to deploy next year aboard the carrier Theodore Roosevelt.

Developed by Northrop Grumman, the E-2D is a greatly modified version of the E-2C Hawkeye, a stalwart of deployed carrier air wings that oversees airborne battle management and fleet air defense operations.

The Advanced Hawkeye continues the line of E-2 Hawkeye aircraft that have provided airborne early warning and command and control since the early 1960s. The plane was first developed by Grumman — subsequently Northrop Grumman — and entered service in 1964.

Advanced Hawkeye development began in 2003, and the E-2D first flew in 2007.

Some of the more significant improvements featured in the E-2D, according to Northrop Grumman, are: a completely new radar featuring both mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities; a fully integrated “all glass” tactical cockpit; an advanced identification friend or foe (IFF) system; new mission computer and tactical workstations; enhanced electronic support measures; and a modernized communications and data link suite.

The radar upgrades replace the E-2C’s mechanically-scanned radar with a phased-array radar that combines mechanical and electronic scanning. The electronically-steered antenna features significant improvements in coastal and overland detection performance and theater anti-missile defense capabilities.

“The E-2D can detect smaller targets, at longer ranges, over water, in littoral areas, and over land in dense clutter environments, giving significant increases in flexibility and situational awareness to the warfighter beyond the capabilities of previous variants of the Hawkeye,” Capt. John Lemmon, E-2 Airborne Tactical Data System Program Office (PMA-231) program manager, said in a press release.

The E-2D also features upgraded engines providing increased electrical power and cooling and a strengthened fuselage to support increased aircraft weight.

According to Northrop Grumman, the Navy’s E-2D program of record is for 75 aircraft. Presently, 62 E-2Cs are in service with the US Navy, with an additional 28 E-2Cs operating in the militaries of Egypt, France, Japan and Taiwan.

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