The US Navy has awarded a $3.2bn multi-year procurement (MYP) contract modification to Northrop Grumman to supply an additional 24 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.

The fixed-price-incentive-firm contract is for the full-rate production of the aircraft for fiscal years 2019-2023.

According to Northrop, the contract includes an option to deliver nine more foreign military sales aircraft.

The company expects to complete the production of the 24 US Navy E-2D aircraft by 2026.

Northrop Grumman vice-president manned airborne surveillance programmes integrated product team leader Jane Bishop said: “This aircraft continues to demonstrate its strategic value to our warfighters with early warning, command and control.

“With this contract, we’ll continue production of these highly specialised aircraft while delivering innovative solutions that outpace advancing threats over the life of the fleet.”

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The carrier-based E-2D serves as the Navy’s airborne early warning and command and control aircraft system, providing expanded battlespace awareness for carrier strike groups and keeping them out of harm’s way.

“With this contract, we’ll continue production of these highly specialised aircraft while delivering innovative solutions that outpace advancing threats over the life of the fleet.”

The aircraft’s advanced radar technology enables it to work with ship-, air- and land-based combat systems to track and defeat air, ship and cruise missiles at extended range.

The navy can also deploy the aircraft in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capacity for civilian emergency coordination.

The company has so far delivered 37 E-2D to the US Navy, with the first successful flight test with aerial refuelling conducted in 2016.

Northrop also delivers a series of capability upgrades to the aircraft. Later this year, the firm will release the third upgrade, which includes an aerial refuelling capability to extend the aircraft’s endurance.

The latest contract is the second multi-year procurement contract awarded to Northrop. The first US Navy E-2D aircraft contract was awarded in 2014.

For the Navy, the latest MYP represents significant cost savings to the tune of $410.6m over the lifetime of the contract.

E-2/C-2 Airborne Tactical Data Systems Program Office (PMA-231) programme manager captain Keith Hash said: “This is a critical element in providing the next generation of world-class command and control aircraft to the fleet.

“The use of the MYP contract allows a substantial savings over the use of single-year contracts and helps us fulfil our mission to increase US Naval power at sea by providing our fleet the information they need to accurately plan and win the fight today and tomorrow.”