The E-2C Hawkeye aircraft supplied by Northrop Grumman is an all-weather airborne early warning aircraft to the naval task force.
Operating from an altitude more than 25,000ft high, the Hawkeye alerts the naval task force to approaching air threats, while also providing threat identification and positional data to fighter aircraft such as F-14 Tomcats. Secondary roles include strike command and control, surveillance, the guidance of search and rescue missions and as a relay to extend the range of communications.
The E-2C became operational in 1973. Featuring an improved engine and radar, the Block II aircraft entered service in 1992 and final delivery took place in 2001.
As well as the US Navy (USN), the E-2C aircraft is in service with the navies of Egypt, France, Israel, Japan, Singapore and Taiwan. Three ex-Israeli Air Force E-2C aircraft were sold to the Mexican Navy, with the first two delivered in June 2004 and the third in November later that year.
Deliveries totalled more than 180 for the USN and over 30 for other nations. Six E-2C Hawkeye aircraft are deployed by the US Naval Reserve for drug interdiction and homeland security operations.
The aircraft is operated by a crew of five, with the pilot and co-pilot on the flight deck and the combat information centre officer, air control officer and radar operator stations located in the rear fuselage directly beneath the rotodome.
E-2C Hawkeye carrier operations design
The fuselage is designed for carrier operations. It is fitted with a nose-tow catapult attachment for accelerated carrier take-off, an A-frame arrester hook for engagement of the arresting gear and a tail bumper to withstand impact or scraping on the runway.
For storage in the hangar, the wings fold hydraulically to lie flat to the fuselage. The fuselage is made of light metal and parts of the tailplane are of a composite structure to reduce radar signature.
Since May 2004, US Navy Hawkeye 2000 aircraft was fitted with two Hamilton Sundstrand NP2000 eight-bladed, digitally controlled propellers to replace mechanically controlled, four-bladed propellers.
The new propellers result in reduced vibration and make less noise. Initial carrier certification of the new propellers was carried out on USS John F Kennedy in November 2003.
Mission systems of E-2C
The large, 24ft diameter, circular antenna radome above the rear fuselage gives the E-2C its distinctive profile. The radome houses the AN/APA-171 antenna supplied by Randtron Systems, which rotates at 5rpm to 6rpm.
The Lockheed Martin AN/APS-145 radar can track more than 2,000 targets and control the interception of 40 hostile targets. One radar sweep covers six million cubic miles. The radar’s total radiation aperture control antenna reduces side lobes and is robust against electronic countermeasures.
It is capable of detecting aircraft at ranges greater than 550km. The Lockheed Martin AN/UYQ-70 advanced display system and computer peripherals provide operators with multicolour displays, map overlays, zoom facilities and auxiliary data displays.
In August 2005, Northrop Grumman completed the E-2C mission computer replacement programme with the provision of faster, more powerful and additionally reliable computers.
Navigation and communications
A global positioning system and a Northrop Grumman (formerly Litton) AN/ASN-92 CAINS (carrier aircraft inertial navigation system) are the main components of the aircraft’s navigation suite.
The aircraft is equipped with the AN/ASN-50 heading and attitude reference system, AN/ARA-50 UHF automatic direction finder from Rockwell Collins, AN/ASW-25B automatic carrier landing system and a Honeywell AN/APN-171(V) radar altimeter.
The communications suite includes AN/ARC-158 UHF data link, AN/ARQ-34 HF datalink and a joint tactical information distribution system, which provides secure voice and data communications.
T56-A-425 turboprop engines of E-2C
The E-2C was originally fitted with two Allison T56-A-425 turboprop engines, but since the introduction of E-2C Group I variants, T56A-427 engines with 3,800kW of output power were fitted.
With the new engines, the E-2C can cruise on station for more than four hours up to 200 miles away from its base.
The first of the Hawkeye 2000 standard aircraft was delivered in October 2001. A total of 21 aircraft were ordered by the USN and the final production aircraft was delivered in September 2009.
The Hawkeye 2000 made its first operational deployment in 2003 on USS Nimitz in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Northrop Grumman is also upgrading a number of USN aircraft to Hawkeye 2000 configuration.
One aircraft was delivered to the French Navy for operation on the Charles de Gaulle carrier, while two E-2Cs already delivered were upgraded to the 2000 standard. In April 2007, France requested the foreign military sale (FMS) of an additional aircraft.
The French government requested an FMS with the US Government in October 2011 for the upgrade of four E-2C Hawkeye at a cost of $180m. Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor in the upgrade programme.
The upgrade work includes the integration of weapon systems, sensors, Mode 5/S identification friend or foe, five APX-122 IFF Mode 5/S interrogator systems, five APX-123 IFF Mode 5/S transponder systems and five ALQ-217 electronic support measure systems.
Two Hawkeye 2000 aircraft were delivered to Taiwan in 2004 and 2005 respectively, joining a fleet of four E-2Cs. The designated E-2K aircraft entered service in April 2006.
Egypt upgraded its five E-2C Hawkeye aircraft to Hawkeye 2000 standard and has received one additional upgraded E-2C. The first improved aircraft was delivered in March 2003, with deliveries concluding in October 2008. Egypt requested two additional excess E-2C aircraft in October 2007.
The Japanese Air Self-Defence Force also upgraded its 13 Hawkeye aircraft, with the first delivered in early 2005. In December 2007, the UAE made a request to purchase three upgraded E-2C aircraft.
Hawkeye 2000 features a Raytheon mission computer upgrade (MCU), a Lockheed Martin advanced control indicator set, cooperative engagement capabilities (CEC), satellite communications, new navigation and flight control systems.
The MCU is based on open architecture commercial off-the-shelf technology with increased memory and faster processing.
The CEC consists of a processor, the data distribution system and antenna, enabling Hawkeye 2000 to perform real-time battle management, fusing and distributing information from sources such as satellite and shipborne radar.
E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
The next-generation E-2D Advanced Hawkeye has a new radar system, theatre missile defence capabilities, multi-sensor integration and a Northrop Grumman Navigation Systems tactical glass cockpit.
Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors developed the AN/APY-9 solid-state, electronically steered UHF radar under the E-2C radar modernisation programme.
Northrop Grumman supplies the transmitter, Raytheon the receiver, L-3 Communications Randtron the UHF antenna and BAE Systems CNIR the identification friend or foe system.
The Advanced Hawkeye will replace all 75 USN E-2C aircraft. The aircraft began full system development and demonstration in August 2003, and in July 2007, Northrop Grumman was awarded a pilot production contract for three aircraft for delivery in 2010. The E-2D was rolled out in May 2007, making its maiden flight in August that year.
Operational assessment was completed in November 2008, followed by transfer to US Navy Patuxent River, Maryland, for carrier testing and sea trials. The first E-2D was delivered to the US Navy in July 2010.
A successful inauguration of the E-2D using the electromagnetic aircraft launch system prototype took place in September 2011. Initial operational capability was achieved in October 2014.
E-2D Advanced Hawkeye orders and deliveries
The US Navy awarded a $432m low-rate production contract for four aircraft in June 2009. The first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye production aircraft was delivered to the US Navy in July 2010. The aircraft completed the first carrier landing on the USS Harry S Truman (CVN 75) in February 2011.
In April 2011, US Naval Air Systems Command placed a $94.6m modification contract for low-rate initial production of four E-2D aircraft.
The US Navy awarded a $795m contract to Northrop Grumman in August 2011 to design, manufacture and supply five LRIP E-2D Hawkeye aircraft, as well as long-lead materials.
The Indian Navy is in discussions with Northrop Grumman to acquire six aircraft, after receiving approval from the US Government in August 2009.
Northrop Grumman received a $617m contract from the US Navy in August 2013 to manufacture and deliver five E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft under Lot 1. The US Navy placed a $226.7m order for an in-flight refuelling system in January 2014.
The preliminary design review of the aerial refuelling system was conducted in September 2014. The in-flight refuelling capability will extend mission endurance by up to nine hours.
In June 2014, Northrop Grumman was awarded a $3.6bn multi-year contract to deliver 25 new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft for the US Navy.
The US Navy awarded a five-year contract worth £3.2bn for the delivery of 24 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft in April 2019.
The Defense Ministry of Japan ordered an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft under the FMS programme in January 2015, before requesting one additional aircraft in August the following year with a $163m order.
Japan awarded a $3.35bn contract to Northrop Grumman for the delivery of nine E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft in September 2018, with the first of is the fleet expected to be delivered by the end of 2019.