Northrop Grumman’s long-serving E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platform is about to have a major update which will create a next-generation capability for any users in the region that want to increase the range and effectiveness of their airspace and sea lane control. This new configuration features an entirely new set of onboard systems and a rotating active electronically scanning array (AESA) radar.
“We have essentially emptied out the airplane and repopulated it with new technologies,” said Tom Trudell, Northrop Grumman’s manager for international business development on the E-2C program.
In the new configuration, the copilot in the right seat becomes a weapons controller, making him a fourth man addition to the three controllers in the rear of the aircraft. There are also plans to cross train one of the operators in the aft section to perform part of the copiloting functions.
Singapore, Japan and Taiwan all operate the E-2C, with India as a potential customer as well. Unlike the U.S. Navy, which uses the Hawkeye as part of its carrier air wing, all of these customers operate the aircraft from land, which allows it to carry more fuel and extends its range. According to Northrop Grumman representatives, India had considered trying to operate the aircraft from the Russian-built Gorshkov aircraft carrier that they acquired recently, but after exhaustive studies they have elected not to make their AEW&C function a carrier-borne asset.
The first prototype of the new-generation Hawkeye rolls off the production line in 2007 with new configuration production beginning in 2010.