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E-2D Hawkeye Aerial Refueling System Completes Preliminary Design Review

Northrop Grumman and U.S. Navy team progress to critical design review

Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy have successfully conducted the preliminary design review (PDR) for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Aerial Refueling system, according to a Northrop Grumman release.

The program will now move on to its critical design review, leading to manufacturing the system, making it a part of new production E-2Ds, and retrofitting it onto older E-2D Hawkeyes already operating in the Navy fleet.

“Adding an aerial refueling capability to the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will extend its critical mission of providing continuous information to the warfighter who depends on it.”

“I’m very pleased with the progress the team has made,” said Capt. John Lemmon, program manager, E-2/C-2 Airborne Tactical Data System Program Office (PMA-231). “Adding an aerial refueling capability to the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will extend its critical mission of providing continuous information to the warfighter who depends on it.”

Hawkeye aerial refueling system

Earlier testing of a Hawkeye aerial refueling system. The in-flight refueling probe extends straight out from the roof of the cockpit and far enough that the tip of the probe can be clearly seen by the Hawkeye pilots. U.S. Navy photo

Under a $226.7 million engineering, manufacturing and development contract awarded in 2013, Northrop Grumman is designing several system upgrades necessary to accommodate an aerial refueling capability. These include:

  • new seats to enhance pilot field-of-view and decrease crew fatigue;
  • formation lights for better visualization and air space orientation; and
  • enhanced software in the aircraft’s flight control system to assist the pilots with aircraft handling qualities when refueling.

“The greater endurance provided by aerial refueling provides the warfighter with enhanced surveillance and targeting capability and the persistence needed to accomplish this more effectively,” said Bart LaGrone, vice president, E-2/C-2 programs, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems. “This results in an advanced airborne early warning system that yields greater surveillance for a longer period of time at a greater distance than presently available.”

Hawkeye IFR

Testing IFR between a Super Hornet and E-2C. In-flight refueling could more than double the Hawkeye’s endurance. U.S. Navy photo

As the U.S. continues its shift to Asia-Pacific, extending the range of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will enlarge the AEW area of coverage extending out from a carrier battle group, and provide enhanced maritime security required by the vast geography of the Asia-Pacific region, for both the U.S. and its allies.

“The level of information provided to the warfighter will increase exponentially with the extended range and endurance of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye fleet with aerial refueling,” LaGrone said.

The Navy’s E-2D program of record is for 75 aircraft. There are currently 62 older E-2Cs operating in the Navy’s fleet, with an additional 28 E-2Cs operating in the militaries of Egypt, France, Japan and Taiwan.