catapult-trials-E2D-001Northrop Grumman announced Friday that the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye test aircraft (Delta ONE) successfully completed its first shore-based catapult launch.  This was conducted at NAS Pax River and is in preparation for Initial Operational Test & Evaluation and delivery to the Navy next year (2010).  Pax River is where the Navy conducts its shore -based trials of new aircraft in preparation for the all important carrier suitability tests where they launch and recover the aircraft under a wide range of conditions, looking for any issues in terms of aircraft controllability and structural endurance.  Both test aircfat were transferred from the production facility at St. Petersburg Augustine, FL earlier this year to Pax River for the shore based trials with the test and evaluation squadron, VX-20.

In the cockpit for the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye catapult test were Northrop Grumman Flight Test Pilot Les Ryan, and Dan Carrigg, Wyle flight test pilot. “There is nothing more exhilarating than being ‘shot’ off the deck of a carrier at more than 100 miles per hour,” said Ryan. “This phase of testing is critical to ensure that the aircraft can structurally handle the rigors of carrier operations. We completed multiple launches and, during each one, Delta One performed as expected – with no noted anomalies.”

An interesting and little known historical sidebar — the current nose-tow catapult system was first demonstrated at sea  19 Dec 1962 W2F-1_NAN2-61on USS Enterprise (CVN 65).  The first aircraft launched by the new system? the Yw2F-1 (E-2A prototype).