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The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Stays On-Track

A decade into the effort to renew and enhance the U.S. Navy’s critical airborne battle management command and control platform, the E-2 Hawkeye, Northrop Grumman’s new E-2D is on track for IOC (initial operational capability) in 2015.

On the way to IOC, the Advanced Hawkeye will prove itself in IOT&E (initial operational test and evaluation). Six examples of what is essentially a new airplane are already in the Navy’s hands and will begin IOT&E in the first quarter of 2012. Seventy-five E-2Ds are to be procured at a cost of more than $17 billion, with full rate production slated to begin in early 2013.

Constructed around Northrop Grumman’s AN/APY-9 Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar, which the Navy and Northrop Grumman characterize as a “two-generation leap in capability,” the E-2D incorporates a much improved suite of sensors, avionics, communications equipment, processors, software and displays.

Constructed around Northrop Grumman’s AN/APY-9 Multi-role Electronically Scanned Array (MESA) radar, which the Navy and Northrop Grumman characterize as a “two-generation leap in capability,” the E-2D incorporates a much improved suite of sensors, avionics, communications equipment, processors, software and displays. COTS/open architecture networks and software enable the Advanced Hawkeye to process and disseminate information as never before, and allow for future technology insertion.

It adds up to an aircraft that can provide a broader, longer-range picture of the battlespace than ever, whether in the littoral or over land.

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

An E-2D Advanced Hawkeye assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 makes its first takeoff from an aircraft carrier, Feb. 1, 2011. U.S. Navy photo by Lt. j.g. Dusan Ilic

For an update on the Advanced Hawkeye, Capt. Shane Gahagan, Hawkeye and Greyhound Program manager at PMA-231, spoke with us about the new capabilities the aircraft will field, their impact on Hawkeye crews, and how the airplane dovetails with current and future Navy doctrine.

 

Jan Tegler: What is very the latest in terms of news or developments for the E-2D?

Capt. Gahagan: The U.S. Navy’s Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) test team successfully launched an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye on Sept. 27 at the full-size shipboard-representative test site, Lakehurst, N.J.

In late October, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Integrated Test team deployed from NAS Patuxent River, Md., to Naval Base Ventura County, Calif., for radar and mission systems testing. All data points were met during this deployment. Further, two of the test aircraft have surpassed their 300th and 500th flights.

 

Given that the E-2D has been referred to as “the cornerstone of the U.S. Navy’s theater air and missile defense architecture in the littoral,” how much of a departure is it from the E-2C? Is the blue water/sea control mission to be deemphasized to some extent?

The blue water/sea control mission will not be de-emphasized. To the contrary, The E-2D is a multi-mission aircraft and was designed for modern threats and increased visibility over blue water or in the littorals. Its radar provides advanced 360-degree coverage with enhanced sector scan coverage for continuous detection and tracking of targets, expanding maritime domain awareness operations and sorting the dense maritime picture.

 

The E-2D has been described as an important component of the Navy’s “Sea Power 21 Sea Shield” concept, which advocates for extending defenses against cruise missiles beyond naval forces to joint forces and allies, providing a defensive umbrella deep inland. How critical is the Advanced Hawkeye to this concept?

The platform provides advanced mission enhancement specifically supporting the Sea Shield concept by assisting in the protection of critical shipping ports and loading facilities; defending off-shore facilities and fisheries; patrolling the Economic Exclusion Zone; controlling other maritime surveillance aircraft; evaluating electronic support measures with detection, location and association; evaluating ships for identification, range, distance and location in sea lanes and fishing areas; vectors surveillance aircraft for the identification of unknown ships, as well as classifies ship tracks and reports to other defense elements in the maritime defense environment.

The E-2D not only provides the critical common picture and presence to maintain homeland defense, but expands the operational view to provide joint forces and allies with necessary coordination, presence, and networked intelligence to ensure international stability, security and rapid engagement when required.

 

With a buy of approximately 75 E-2Ds, when does the Navy plan to retire the E-2C?

The E-2C Reserve squadron is not funded for an E-2D replacement, therefore they will continue to operate the E-2C beyond 2025.

The E-2C is currently planned to be retired from active service in 2025, and all squadron transitions to E-2D aircraft will be completed that same year. The E-2C Reserve squadron is not funded for an E-2D replacement, therefore they will continue to operate the E-2C beyond 2025.

 

Given the leap in capability of Advanced Hawkeye, how much training will existing Hawkeye crews need to exploit its potential?

The amount of “basic” training for aircrew, referred to as “Level 100,” has not increased, with the exception of pilot training. Basic pilot training has increased some because of the tactical display in the cockpit that is not in the Hawkeye 2000.

The training system that is being developed for the E-2D is called the Hawkeye Integrated Training System for aircrew – HITS-A. An “integrated” training system means we are developing a syllabus that covers the basic (Level 100) through advanced (Level 300) training requirements. To support this syllabus we will deliver courseware and simulators. The Level 100 training will be conducted at Carrier Airborne Command and Control Squadron One Two Zero (VAW-120), Norfolk, Va. – the Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS). The Level 200 and 300, representing the tactical training, will be conducted by the Weapons Training Unit (WTU) and the Naval Strike and Air Warfare Center, Fallon, Nev.

The E-2D training differs from the Hawkeye 2000 training due to the fact that the legacy aircraft’s tactical training is a Personnel Qualification Standards (PQS) program, while the HITS-A tactical training will be an approved syllabus requiring aircrew to complete courses, simulators, and flights to achieve their qualifications. The simulator fidelity will allow aircrew to complete more training events in the simulator versus having to fly the actual aircraft.

 

Again, given the new capabilities of the E-2D, how much responsibility will be added to the roles of the Advanced Hawkeye’s Radar Officer (RO), Air Control Officer (ACO) and Combat Information Center Officer (CICO) in terms of battle management command and control? It would seem that their respective responsibilities would grow. Does this alter their importance in the kill chain? Will they be tasked with greater decision-making?

With the advanced upgrades and enhancements in terms of radar, flight navigation, and the tactical picture, the E-2D brings a fourth tactical operator to the mission. The addition of the co-pilot’s tactical data display will improve situational awareness, reduce pilot workload for monitoring flight instrumentation and provide the tactical picture to the pilot and co-pilot in the cockpit – adding great benefit to the roles of the RO, ACO and CICO.

The network-enabled architecture (both modular and open) allows for greater battle management and control and data link messaging, supporting the exchange of critical targets, benefitting the E-2D’s responsibility in the central architectural node on the wideband IP network.

Aircrews find new and innovative ways to employ advanced technology and capability with every mission. With these more advanced tools increasing sight and awareness, as well as reducing clutter, it will make the clarity, exchange, amount and accuracy of the mission information and awareness an ever-challenging but “smarter” and manageable responsibility.

 

The E-2D’s open architecture and robust airframe are said to provide room for growth as new mission systems/components are developed. Are enhancements to be incorporated in a continuous fashion (given budgetary and program support) or will the Advanced Hawkeye experience periodic updates as the E-2C has over the years?

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

An E-2D Hawkeye assigned to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 completes a “touch-and-go” exercise aboard the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75). Feb. 2, 2011. The “D” model was aboard the Harry S. Truman for carrier suitability testing before delivery to the fleet. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Donald R. White Jr.

The aircraft’s mission system will be updated as existing requirements are established by the Department of the Navy.

 

How will the E-2D complement the abilities of platforms like the F-35 and unmanned vehicles in data sharing and battlespace management?

The E-2D program office works closely with JSF and other DoD programs. The Navy plans to operate the E-2D and the F-35 together from our aircraft carriers in the future and the two aircraft are complimentary.

The E-2D program office works closely with JSF and other DoD programs. The Navy plans to operate the E-2D and the F-35 together from our aircraft carriers in the future and the two aircraft are complimentary.  The E-2D is transforming the way the Navy sees the battlespace mission and likewise, the portfolio of the future, including JSF, is designed for this as well.

The E-2D platform provides advanced mission enhancement by providing the critical common picture and presence to maintain homeland defense, but expands the operational view to provide joint forces and allies with necessary coordination, presence, and networked intelligence to ensure international stability, security and rapid engagement when required.

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Jan Tegler is a writer/broadcaster from Severna Park, Md. His work appears in a variety...