The Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye is an American all-weather, carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft. This twin-turboprop aircraft was designed and developed during the late 1950s and early 1960s by the Grumman Aircraft Company for the United States Navy as a replacement for the earlier, piston-engined E-1 Tracer, which was rapidly becoming obsolete. The aircraft’s performance has been upgraded with the E-2B, and E-2C versions, where most of the changes were made to the radar and radio communications due to advances in electronic integrated circuits and other electronics. The fourth major version of the Hawkeye is the E-2D, which first flew in 2007. The E-2 was the first aircraft designed specifically for its role, as opposed to a modification of an existing airframe, such as the Boeing E-3 Sentry. Variants of the Hawkeye have been in continuous production since 1960, giving it the longest production run of any carrier-based aircraft.
The E-2 also received the nickname “Super Fudd” because it replaced the E-1 Tracer “Willy Fudd”. In recent decades, the E-2 has been commonly referred to as the “Hummer” because of the distinctive sounds of its turboprop engines, quite unlike that of turbojet and turbofan jet engines. In addition to U.S. Navy service, smaller numbers of E-2s have been sold to the armed forces of Egypt, France, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and Taiwan.
Continual improvements in airborne radars through 1956 led to the construction of AEW airplanes by several different countries and several different armed forces. The functions of command and control and sea & air surveillance were also added. The first carrier-based aircraft to perform these missions for the U.S. Navy and its allies was the Douglas AD Skyraider, which was replaced in US Navy service by the Grumman E-1 Tracer, which was a modified version of the S-2 Tracker twin-engine anti-submarine warfare aircraft, where the radar was carried in an aerofoil-shaped radome carried above the aircraft’s fuselage.
In 1956, the U.S. Navy developed a requirement for an airborne early warning aircraft where its data could be integrated into the Naval Tactical Data System aboard the Navy’s ships, with a design from Grumman being selected to meet this requirement in March 1957. Its design, initially designated W2F-1, but later redesignated the E-2A Hawkeye, was the first carrier plane that had been designed from its wheels up as an AEW and command and control airplane. The problems facing the design engineers at Grumman were immense, and were compounded by having to constrain the design to enable the aircraft to operate from the older modified Essex-class aircraft carriers. These ‘smaller’ carriers were built during World War II and later modified to allow them to operate jet aircraft. Consequently, various height, weight and length restrictions had to be factored into the E-2A design, resulting in some handling characteristics which were less than ideal. The E-2A actually never operated from the modified Essex class carriers, and it is likely the design would have benefited considerably if this requirement had never been imposed.
The first prototype, acting as an aerodynamic testbed only, flew on 21st October 1960. The first fully equipped aircraft followed it on 19th April 1961, and entered service with the US Navy as the E-2A in January 1964. By 1965 the major development problems delaying the E-2A Hawkeye got so bad that the aircraft was actually cancelled after 59 aircraft had already been built. Particular difficulties were being experienced due to inadequate cooling in the closely packed avionics compartment. Early computer and complex avionics systems generated considerable heat; without proper ventilation this would lead to system failures. These failures continued long after the aircraft entered service and at one point reliability was so bad the entire fleet of aircraft was grounded. The airframe was also prone to corrosion, a serious problem in a carrier based aircraft.
After Navy officials had been forced to explain to Congress why four production contracts had been signed before avionics testing had been completed, action was taken; Grumman and the US Navy scrambled to improve the design. The unreliable rotary drum computer was replaced by a Litton L-304 digital computer and various avionics systems were replaced – the upgraded aircraft were designated E-2Bs. In total, 49 of the 59 E-2As were upgraded to E-2B standard. These aircraft replaced the E-1B Tracers in the various US Navy AEW squadrons and it was the E-2B that was to set a new standard for carrier based AEW aircraft.
Although the upgraded E-2B was a vast improvement on the unreliable E-2A, it was an interim measure. The US Navy knew the design had much greater capability and had yet to achieve the performance and reliability parameters set out in the original 1957 design. In April 1968 a reliability improvement program was instigated. In addition, now that the capabilities of the aircraft were starting to be realized, more were desired; 28 new E-2Cs were ordered to augment the 49 E-2Bs that would be upgraded. Improvements in the new and upgraded aircraft were concentrated in the radar and computer performance.
Two E-2A test machines were modified as E-2C prototypes, the first flying on 20th January 1971. Trials proved satisfactory and the E-2C was ordered into production, the first production machine performed its initial flight on 23rd September 1972. The original E-2C, known as Group 0, consisted of 55 aircraft; the first aircraft became operational in 1973 and serving on carriers in the 1980s and 1990s, until they were replaced in first-line service by Group II aircraft. US Navy Reserve used some aircraft for tracking drug smugglers. The type was commonly used in conjunction with Grumman F-14 Tomcat fighters; monitoring airspace and then vectoring Tomcats over the Link-4A datalink to destroy potential threats with long range AIM-54C Phoenix missiles.
The next production run, between 1988 and 1991, saw 18 aircraft built to the Group I standard. Group I aircraft replaced the E-2’s older APS-125 radar and T56-A-425 turboprops with their successors, the APS-139 radar system and T56-A-427 turboprops. The first Group I aircraft entered service on August 1981. Upgrading the Group 0 aircraft to Group 1 specifications was considered, but the cost was comparable to a new production aircraft, so upgrades were not conducted. Group 1 aircraft were only flown by the Atlantic fleet squadrons. This version was followed within a few years by the Group II, which had the improved APS-145 radar. A total of 50 Group II aircraft were delivered, 12 being upgraded Group I aircraft. This new version entered service in June 1992 and served with the Pacific and Atlantic Fleet squadrons.
By 1997 the US Navy intended that all front line squadrons would be equipped, for a total of 75 Group II aircraft. Grumman merged with Northrop in 1994 and plans began on the Group II Plus, also known as the Group II / NAV upgrade. This kept the same computer and radar as the Group II while upgrading the pilot avionics, such as replacing the mechanical Inertial Navigation System (INS) with a more reliable and accurate laser Ring Gyroscope-driven INS, installing dual Multifunction Display Units (MFCDUs) (vice one in the Group II), and the integration of GPS into the weapon system. A variant of the Group II with upgrades to the mission computer and CIC workstations is referred to as the MCU/ACIS, these were produced in small numbers due to production of the Hawkeye 2000 soon after its introduction.
All Group II aircraft had their 1960s vintage computer processors replaced by a mission computer with the same functionality via modern computer technology, referred to as the GrIIM RePr (Group II Mission Computer Replacement Program, pronounced “grim reaper”).
Another upgrade to the Group II was the Hawkeye 2000 which featured the same APS-145 radar but incorporated an upgraded mission computer and CIC (Combat Information Center) workstations (Advanced Control Indicator Set or ACIS), and carries the U.S. Navy’s new CEC (cooperative engagement capability) data-link system. It is also fitted with a larger capacity vapor cycle avionics cooling system. Starting in 2007 a hardware and software upgrade package began to be added to existing Hawkeye 2000 aircraft. This upgrade allows faster processing, double current trackfile capacity and access to satellite information networks. Hawkeye 2000 cockpits being upgraded include solid-state glass displays, and a GPS-approach capability. The remaining Hawkeye Group II NAV Upgrade aircraft received GPS approach capability, but did not get the solid-state glass displays.
In 2004, the E-2C’s propeller system was changed; a new eight-bladed propeller system named NP2000 was developed by the Hamilton-Sundstrand company to replace the old four-bladed design. Improvements included reduced vibrations and better maintainability as a result of the ability to remove prop blades individually instead of having to remove the entire prop and hub assembly.The propeller blades are of carbon fibre construction with steel leading edge inserts and de-icing boots at the root of the blade.
Once considered for replacement by the “Common Support Aircraft”, this concept was abandoned. The latest E-2 version is the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, which features an entirely new avionics suite including the new AN/APY-9 radar, radio suite, mission computer, integrated satellite communications, flight management system, improved T56-A-427A engines, a glass cockpit and later changes should enable aerial refueling by 2020. The APY-9 radar features an active electronically scanned array, which adds electronic scanning to the mechanical rotation of the radar in its radome. The E-2D will include provisions for the copilot to act as a “Tactical 4th Operator” (T4O), who can reconfigure his main cockpit display to show radar, IFF, and Link 16 (JTIDS)/CEC, and access all acquired data. The E-2D’s first flight occurred on 3rd August 2007. On 8th May 2009, an E-2D used its Cooperative Engagement Capability system to engage an overland cruise missile with a Standard Missile SM-6 fired from another platform in an integrated fire-control system test. These two systems will form the basis of the Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air (NIFC-CA) when fielded in 2015; the USN is investigating adding other systems to the NIFC-CA network in the future.
The APY-9 radar has been suspected of being capable of detecting fighter-sized stealth aircraft, which are typically optimized against high frequencies like Ka, Ku, X, C, and parts of the S-bands. Small aircraft lack the size or weight allowances for all-spectrum low-observable features, leaving a vulnerability to detection by the UHF-band APY-9 radar, potentially detecting fifth-generation fighters like the Russian Sukhoi PAK FA and the Chinese Chengdu J-20 and Shenyang J-31. Historically, UHF radars had resolution and detection issues that made them ineffective for accurate targeting and fire control; Northrop Grumman and Lockheed claim that the APY-9 has solved these shortcomings in the APY-9 using advanced electronic scanning and high digital computing power via space/time adaptive processing. According to the Navy’s NIFC-CA concept, the E-2D could guide fleet weapons, such as AIM-120 AMRAAM and SM-6 missiles, onto targets beyond a launch platform’s detection range or capabilities.
Deliveries of initial production E-2Ds began in 2010. On 4th February 2010, Delta One conducted the first E-2D carrier landing aboard USS Harry S. Truman as a part of carrier suitability testing. On 27th September 2011, an E-2D was successfully launched by the prototype Electromagnetic Aircraft Launch System (EMALS) at Naval Air Engineering Station Lakehurst. On 12th February 2013, the Office of the Secretary of Defense approved the E-2D to enter full-rate production. The Navy plans for an initial operational capability by 2015. In June 2013, the 10th E-2D was delivered to the Navy, with an additional 10 aircraft in various stages of manufacturing and predelivery flight testing. On 18th July 2013, Northrop Grumman was awarded a $113.7 million contract for five full-rate production Lot 2 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft. On 13th August 2013, Northrop Grumman was awarded a $617 million contract for five E-2Ds until full-rate production Lot 1. On 30th June 2014, Northrop Grumman was awarded a $3.6 billion contract to supply 25 more E-2D, for a total contracted number of 50 aircraft; 13 E-2D models had been delivered by that time.
The E-2 is a high-wing airplane, with one turboprop engine on each wing and retractable tricycle landing gear. As with most carrier-borne airplanes, the E-2 is equipped with a tail hook for recovery (landing), and the nose gear can attach to a shuttle of the aircraft carrier’s catapults for launch (takeoff). A distinguishing feature of the Hawkeye is its 24-foot (7.3 m) diameter rotating radar dome (rotodome) that is mounted above its fuselage and wings. This carries the E-2’s primary antennas for its long-range radar and IFF systems. No other carrier-borne aircraft possesses one of these, and among land-based aircraft, they are mostly seen atop the Boeing E-3 Sentry, a larger AWACS airplane operated by the U.S. Air Force and NATO air forces in large numbers.
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.
In U.S. service, the E-2 Hawkeye provides all-weather airborne early warning and command and control capabilities for all aircraft-carrier battle groups. In addition, its other purposes include sea and land surveillance, the control of the aircraft carrier’s fighter planes for air defense, the control of strike aircraft on offensive missions, the control of search and rescue missions for naval aviators and sailors lost at sea, and for the relay of radio communications, air-to-air and ship-to-air. It can also serve in an air traffic control capacity in emergency situations when land-based ATC is unavailable.
The E-2C and E-2D Hawkeyes use advanced electronic sensors combined with digital computer signal processing, especially its radars, for early warning of enemy aircraft attacks and anti-ship missile attacks, and the control of the carrier’s combat air patrol (CAP) fighters, and secondarily for surveillance of the surrounding sea and land for enemy warships and guided-missile launchers, and any other electronic surveillance missions as directed.
The E-2A entered U.S. Navy service on January 1964, and in April 1964 with VAW-11 at NAS North Island. The first deployment was aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CVA-63) during 1965.
Since entering combat during the Vietnam War, the E-2 has served the US Navy around the world, acting as the electronic “eyes of the fleet”. In August 1981, a Hawkeye from VAW-124 “Bear Aces” directed two F-14 Tomcats from VF-41 “Black Aces” in an intercept mission in the Gulf of Sidra that resulted in the downing of two Libyan Sukhoi Su-22s. Hawkeyes from VAW-123 aboard the aircraft carrier USS America (CV-66) directed a group of F-14 Tomcat fighters flying the Combat Air Patrol during Operation El Dorado Canyon, the joint strike of two Carrier Battle Groups in the Mediterranean Sea against Libyan terrorist targets during 1986. More recently, E-2Cs provided the command and control for both aerial warfare and land-attack missions during the Persian Gulf War. Hawkeyes have supported the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Customs Service, and American federal and state police forces during anti-drug operations.
In the mid-1980s, several E-2Cs were borrowed from the U.S. Navy and given to the U.S. Coast Guard and the U.S. Customs Service for counternarcotics (CN) and maritime interdiction operations (MIO). This also led to the Coast Guard building a small cadre of Naval Flight Officers (NFOs), starting with the recruitment and interservice transfer of Navy flight officers with E-2 flight experience and the flight training of other junior Coast Guard officers as NFOs. A fatal aircraft mishap on 24th August 1990 involving a Coast Guard E-2C at the former Naval Station Roosevelt Roads in Puerto Rico prompted the Coast Guard to discontinue flying E-2Cs and to return its E-2Cs to the Navy. The U.S Customs Service also returned its E-2Cs to the Navy and concentrated on the use of former U.S. Navy P-3 Orion aircraft in the CN role.
E-2C Hawkeye squadrons played a critical role in air operations during Operation Desert Storm. In one instance, a Hawkeye crew provided critical air control direction to two F/A-18 Hornet aircrew, resulting in the shootdown of two Iraqi MiG-21s. During Operations Southern Watch and Desert Fox, Hawkeye crews continued to provide thousands of hours of air coverage, while providing air-to-air and air-to-ground command and control in a number of combat missions.
The E-2 Hawkeye is a crucial component of all U.S. Navy carrier air wings; each carrier is equipped with four Hawkeyes (five in some situations), allowing for continuous 24-hour-a-day operation of at least one E-2 and for one or two to undergo maintenance in the aircraft carrier’s hangar deck at all times. Until 2005. the US Navy Hawkeye’s were organised into East and West coast wings, supporting the respective fleets. However, the East coast wing was disestablished, all aircraft were organised into a single wing based at Point Mugu, California. Six E-2C aircraft were deployed by the US Naval Reserve for drug interdiction and homeland security operations until 9th March 2013, when the sole Reserve squadron, VAW-77 ‘Nightwolves’, was decommissioned and its six aircraft sent to other squadrons.
During Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom all ten Regular Navy Hawkeye squadrons flew overland sorties. They provided battle management for attack of enemy ground targets, close-air-support coordination, combat search and rescue control, airspace management, as well as datalink and communication relay for both land and naval forces. During the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, three Hawkeye squadrons (two Regular Navy and one Navy Reserve) were deployed in support of civilian relief efforts including Air Traffic Control responsibilities spanning three states, and the control of U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Coast Guard, and Army National Guard and Air National Guard helicopter rescue units.
Hawkeye 2000s first deployed in 2003 aboard USS Nimitz (CVN-68) with VAW-117, the “Wallbangers”, and CVW-11. U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeyes have been upgraded with eight-bladed propellers as part of the NP2000 program; the first squadron to cruise with the new propellers was VAW-124 “Bear Aces”. The Hawkeye 2000 version can track more than 2,000 targets simultaneously (while at the same time, detecting 20,000 simultaneously) to a range greater than 400 mi (640 km) and simultaneously guide 40–100 air-to-air intercepts or air-to-surface engagements. In 2014, several E-2C Hawkeyes from the Bear Aces of VAW-124 were deployed from USS George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) as flying command posts and air traffic controllers over Iraq during Operation Inherent Resolve against the Islamic State.
VAW-120, the E-2C fleet replacement squadron began receiving E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes for training use in July 2010. On 27th March 2014, the first E-2Ds were delivered to the VAW-125. The E-2D achieved Initial Operational Capability (IOC) in October 2014 when VAW-125 was certified to have five operational aircraft. This began training on the aircraft for its first operational deployment, scheduled for 2015 aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71). The E-2D will play a larger role than that of the E-2C, with five E-2Ds aboard each carrier instead of the current four C-models, requiring the acquisition of 75 total E-2Ds. On 11th March 2015, the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group departed Naval Station Norfolk and returned to port on 23rd November 2015, concluding the first operational use of the E-2D.
The French Naval Aviation (Aeronavale) operates three E-2C Hawkeyes and has been the only operator of the E-2 Hawkeye from an aircraft carrier besides the U.S. Navy. The French nuclear-powered carrier, Charles De Gaulle (R 91), currently carries two E-2C Hawkeyes on her combat patrols offshore. The third French E-2C Hawkeye has been upgraded with eight-bladed propellers as part of the NP2000 program. In April 2007, France requested the foreign military sale (FMS) of an additional aircraft.
The Flottille 4F of the French Navy’s Aeronavale was stood up on 2nd July 2000 and flies its E-2C Hawkeyes from its naval air station at Lann-Bihoue or aboard Charles de Gaulle. They took part in operations in Afghanistan and Libya
On 6th September 1976, Soviet Air Force pilot Viktor Belenko successfully defected, landing his MiG-25 ‘Foxbat’ at Hakodate Airport, Japan. During this incident, the Japan Self-Defense Forces’ radar lost track of the aircraft when Belenko flew his MiG-25 at a low altitude, prompting the JASDF to consider procurement of airborne early warning aircraft.
Initially, the E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control system aircraft was considered to be the prime candidate for the airborne early warning mission by the JASDF. However, the Japanese Defense Agency realized that the E-3 would not be readily available due to USAF needs and opted to procure E-2 Hawkeye aircraft. The Japan Air Self-Defense Force bought thirteen E-2C aircraft to improve its early warning capabilities. The E-2C was put into service with the Airborne Early Warning Group (AEWG) at Misawa Air Base in January 1987.
On 21st November 2014, the Japanese Ministry of Defense officially decided to procure four of the E-2D version of the Hawkeye, instead of the Boeing 737 AEW&C AEW&C design. In June 2015, the Japanese government requested to buy four E-2Ds through a Foreign Military Sale.
In 2004, three former Israel Air Force E-2C aircraft were sold to the Mexican Navy to perform maritime and shore surveillance missions. These aircraft were upgraded locally by IAI. The first Mexican E-2C was rolled out in January 2004.
The Republic of Singapore Air Force acquired four Grumman E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft in 1987, which are assigned to the 111 Squadron “Jaeger” based at Tengah Air Base.
In April 2007, it was announced that the four E-2C Hawkeyes were to be replaced with four Gulfstream G550s which would become the primary early warning aircraft of the Singapore Air Force. On 13th April 2012, the newer G550 AEWs officially took over duty from the former.
Israel was the first export customer, its four Hawkeyes were delivered during 1981, complete with the folding wings characteristic of carrier-borne aircraft. The four examples were soon put into active service before and during the 1982 Lebanon War during which they won a resounding victory over Syrian air defenses and fighter control. They were central to the Israeli victory in the air battles over the Bekaa Valley during which more than 90 Syrian fighters were downed. The Hawkeyes were also the linchpins of the operation in which the IAF destroyed the SAM array in the Bekaa, coordinating the various stages of the operation, vectoring planes into bombing runs and directing intercepts. Under the constant defense of F-15 Eagles, there were always two Hawkeyes on station off the Lebanese coast, controlling the various assets in the air and detecting any Syrian aircraft upon their takeoff, eliminating any chance of surprise.
The Israeli Air Force (IAF) operated four E-2s for its homeland AEW protection through 1994. The IAF was the first user of the E-2 to install air-to-air refueling equipment.
Three of the four Israeli-owned Hawkeyes were sold to Mexico in 2002 after they had been upgraded with new systems; the remaining example was sent to be displayed in the Israeli Air Force Museum. In 2010, Singapore began retiring its E-2Cs as well. Both Israel and Singapore now employ the IAI Eitam, a Gulfstream G550-based platform utilizing Elta’s EL/W-2085 sensor package (a newer derivative of the airborne Phalcon system) for their national AEW programmes.
Taiwan acquired four E-2T aircraft from the US on 22nd November 1995. On 15th April 2006 Taiwan commissioned two new E-2K Hawkeyes at an official ceremony at the Republic of China Air Force (ROCAF) base in Pingtung Airport in southern Taiwan.
The four E-2Ts were approved for upgrade to Hawkeye 2000 configuration in a 2008 arms deal. The four E-2T aircraft were upgraded to what became known as E-2K standard in two batches, the first batch of two aircraft were sent to the United States in June 2010, arriving home in late 2011; on their return the second batch of two aircraft were sent for upgrade, returning to Taiwan in March 2013.
Egypt purchased five E-2C Hawkeyes, that entered service in 1987 and were upgraded to Hawkeye 2000 standard. One additional upgraded E-2C was purchased. The first upgraded aircraft was delivered in March 2003 and deliveries were concluded in late 2008. Egypt requested two additional excess E-2C aircraft in October 2007; deliveries began in 2010. They all operate in 601 AEW Brigade, Cairo-West.
Egypt used the E-2C Hawkeye in a bombing operation in 2015 against ISIL in Libya.
Hobbymaster E-2C Hawkeyes available to buy from Flying Tigers.
Flying Tigers have some great models of the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye available to buy on “Deal of the Day” offer this weekend. Very Limited stocks on all of these so be quick to get one.Please click on the images or links below to go to the model of your choice or CLICK HERE to see them all.
Hobbymaster Updated Photos.
A couple of updated model photos this week. Please click on the images below which will take you through to the Gallery Photos on each model.
New InFlight 1/200th scale and Gemini 1/200th scale models available to pre-order !
I have added all the latest models on these ranges to the Flying Tigers website this week. There are both InFlight Military 1/200th scale and InFlight Civilian 1/200th scale aircraft, and also Gemini Jets Military 1/200th scale and Gemini Jets Civilian 1/200th scale.
Please click on the links above to go to the brand / type that you want. I have included a just a few models below to whet your appetite. Please click on the images and links below to go straight to the model of your choice.
Latest Arrivals this week at Flying Tigers.
All the following models have arrived at Flying Tigers today ! Thank you for all those of you that have pre-ordered these models…they will be with you shortly. There are still a few available of each of these models if you need one for your collection. As usual please click on the images or links below to go straight to the model of your choice.
That’s all for this week.
Thank you for reading this week’s Newsletter.