Friday, February 11, 2011
Northrop Grumman Confirms RFIs Issued for Naval Airborne Early Warning Aircraft
While briefing media personnel in Bangalore on the eve of Aero India 2011, (Retired) Commodore Gyanendra Sharma, Managing Director of Northrop Grumman India announced that the Ministry of Defence has sent a Request for Information (RFI) for E-2D Naval Airborne Early Warning aircraft to Northrop Grumman.
As per details given by Mr. Sharma, Indian Navy has shown interest in procuring at least four such aircrafts. He also mentioned that first E-2D aircraft was successfully launched from USS Harry S. Truman signifying end of the testing phase. Northrop Grumman is positive that a Request for Proposal (RFP) for the same would be issued by year end.
It should be noted that E-2 (C&D) family of aircrafts are the only AEW&C aircraft capable of operating from aircraft carriers. Although carrier capable, only USA and France use them in thatrole. Rest of the operators deploy E-2C as shore-based AEW&C platforms. Currently US Navy is the only E-2D operator. India and UAE are the only countries to have expressed interest in E-2D. Even if E-2D enters service with Indian Navy in near future, Navy does not have aircraft carriers capable of operating E-2D. Hence E-2D will be used in shore-based role till the time right carrier is commissioned.
When asked about possibility of upgrading existing E-2C aircrafts to E-2D, Mr. David Parsley, Programmed Manager for Electronic Systems replied that externally E-2D might look similar to E-2C, but in terms of electronics and radar, it is a totally different beast. E-2D was designed from scratch and it is so advanced and powerful compared to E-2C that upgrading E-2C aircrafts to E-2D standards is not possible.
From Wikipedia E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
Though once considered for replacement by the "Common Support Aircraft", this conception never went into production, and the Hawkeye will continue in its role as the Navy's primary AEW aircraft for years into the future in the E-2D version.
The latest version of the E-2, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, is currently under development and the first two aircraft, "Delta One" and "Delta Two" are in flight testing. The E-2D features an entirely new avionics suite, including the new APY-9 radar, radio suite, mission computer, integrated satellite communications capability, flight management system, improved turboprop engines, a new "glass cockpit", and the added capability for air-to-air refueling.
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 either one of the pilots to act as a Tactical 4th Operator, who will have access to the full range of the mission's acquired data. The E-2D's first flight occurred on 3 August 2007. The E-2D will undergo Initial Operational Test and Evaluation in 2011.