The US Navy's Northrop Grumman-built five E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft are set for their maiden deployment aboard the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) aircraft carrier.
Assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125, they will be part of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1 on a regularly scheduled deployment to the US fifth and sixth fleet areas of responsibility.
The squadron conducts maritime security operations, theatre security cooperation efforts and missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
VAW-125 commanding officer, commander Daryl Trent said: "This aircraft has been in development for almost 20 years.
"Now that we're set for our maiden deployment, and we get set to integrate with craft like the growler and the hornet, we're going to become the most efficient carrier strike group in the fleet."
An updated version of the E-2 aircraft platform, the new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye has been designed to replace the E-2C Hawkeye.
Equipped with improved AN/APY-9 radar and other latest aircraft systems, it includes a new communications suite and glass cockpit.
Trent added: "Suppose you're looking through a pair of goggles, with the E-2C you have 20/20 vision and with the E-2D you have 20/10.
"It has significantly advanced radar, its computer processing capabilities have been increased and the communication suites have been enhanced. This plane is a real game-changer."
In addition to providing airborne early warning and command and control capabilities for all aircraft carrier battle groups, the aircraft is capable of conducting airborne strikes, land force support, rescue operations and drug interdiction missions.
Image: Two E-2D Advanced Hawkeye in flight. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman.