The US Navy’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye with aerial refuelling (AR) capabilities has successfully completed its first flight.

Conducted by Northrop Grumman, the flight marks a major milestone in providing enhanced support to the warfighter.

Northrop Grumman E-2/C-2 programmes vice-president Jane Bishop said: “This takes the E-2D to another level, which will bring more combat persistence to the US and our allies.”

“This takes the E-2D to another level, which will bring more combat persistence to the US and our allies.”

In 2013, Northrop Grumman was awarded an engineering, manufacturing, and development (EMD) contract to design, develop, manufacture and test a wide range of sub-system upgrades required to accommodate AR capabilities.

The enhancements include electrical and lighting upgrades, probe and associated piping, as well as long-endurance seats to increase the field of view in the cockpit and reduce fatigue over longer missions.

E-2/C-2 Airborne Tactical Data System Programme Office (PMA-231) programme manager captain Keith Hash said: “The Northrop Grumman aerial refuelling team continues to put outstanding effort into bringing this much-needed capability to the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and our warfighters who rely on it.”

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The AR system will enable the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye to offer longer on-station times at greater ranges, enhancing its mission time to better support the warfighter.

Under the AR programme, Northrop will modify three E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes for testing that is scheduled to take place through 2018.

Production cut-in and retrofit plans are to start in 2018.

Image: The first US Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye equipped with aerial refuelling capability. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman.