All posts in “E-2D”

Of Heritage and Advanced Hawkeyes

“Hawkeye, Ball…”

Since the E-2A went to sea in the early 1960’s, “Hawkeye” was the name used for the ball call to the LSOs. Later iterations of the E-2C continued that practice but distinguished the a/c type by markings on the nose (a white “II” for Group 2 E-2s, or a “+” for H2Ks today). The Advanced Hawkeye, however being heavier than the E-2C required something more than just “Hawkeye” but kept to a single word. In doing so, VAW heritage was called upon and just as “Steeljaw” has been used for special evolutions for the new Hawkeye, the E-2’s predecessor, the E-1B Tracer (or WF – ‘Willie Fudd’) was called upon. Now, with an E-2D on the ball, you’ll hear “Tracer, ball…”

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E-2D Advanced Hawkeye – Death By A Thousand Cuts?

Disclaimer: I am not nor have I ever been an employee of N-G.  Yes, I have over 3,000 hours in their E-2C and it is with that time, and the experiences it has brought across a wide playing field that the following is submitted. – SJS

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The final deliveries of supplies and materials for the venerable E-2C Hawkeye will take place this year,  thirty-six years after the baseline model reached IOC and seventeen years after the Group II’s IOC.  The replacement, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is a major advance in capabilities available to maritime forces that is unmatched anywhere by any other platform.  But it’s rationale isn’t found in posting bragging rights – there is a real and growing threat to maritime forces whether the water is blue, green or brown:

“Advanced cruise missiles don’t get much press today. They should, because several very capable types have been around quite a while. Land-attack cruise missiles like a French-built missile called the Scalp have been sold in Europe and the Persian Gulf under the name Black Shaheen. It’s big, stealthy, and flies about 500 mph. Then there
are the anti-ship cruise missiles. Just about every nation with a coastline has them. It takes constant vigilance with a big and high-powered radar search volume to pick out cruise missiles flying over land or water.”

(ed. …and don’t think the Russians have entered into a joint partnership with the Indians on development of the Brahmos supersonic cruise missile out of any altruistic leanings either – SJS)
“The US Navy has prepared to meet the threat with a little-known program with the far too bland name of Naval Integrated Fire Control – Counter Air (NIFC-CA). What that means is the Navy is pushing the technology to link fire control for the missiles mil_cec_concept_lgcarried by its ships and airplanes into a network that can pick out and shoot enemy cruise missiles when they are farther away. Cooperative engagement capability is part of the NIFC-CA, and that’s where E-2D comes in.

What the Navy says publicly is that the E-2D crew can keep track of many more targets at once in an area 300% greater than the older plane. Work stations inside have all the links needed to make NIFC-CA effective in its expanded mission: flat-screen glass displays, satellite communications and the latest secure networking.

Although the whole NIFC-CA piece is still maturing, the anti-cruise missile capabilities in E-2D work with systems ready today. None question the Navy’s need for E-2D – the threat is too compelling. Links to the Army’s ground-based Patriot air and missile defense batteries are designed in…More links to surface ships come later.”

The E-2D was approved for LRIP of 3/yr in 2008 and 2009, completed its 125th flight milestone this last July and is on track for Milestone C this spring.  Compared with the original E-2A and the E-2C developments, both of which encountered major developmental problems and ultimately failed their OPEVALS, the E-2D has successfully completed its Operational Assessment with over half the flight time involved with radar operations – and it was successfully tracking towards an IOC of 2011.  So what’s the problem?

‘$200m+ Congressional Cut to E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Puts 350 U.S. Jobs At Risk’

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., Feb. 6, 2009 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Calling a $200-plus million cut to production procurement for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye a “high risk” move that will put U.S. jobs and global security at risk, Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) and its 280-member supplier team is calling on Congressional leaders to restore the funding. The reduction in funding jeopardizes the building of production aircraft initially planned in fiscal years 2009 and 2010.

“We’ve just completed a very successful Operational Assessment with our two E-2D Advanced Hawkeye System Development & Demonstration (SD&D) aircraft and we are on schedule with our three pilot production aircraft. There is a great sense of urgency today to restore production procurement dollars into the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye budget-otherwise hundreds of U.S. jobs will be lost and taxpayers will not derive the benefit of economies of scale,” said Tom Vice, sector vice president for Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems sector. “We have the manufacturing capacity now to accommodate up to ten E-2D’s a year, which certainly supports the Navy’s plan to contract for 70 more aircraft. More importantly, these budget cuts may delay Initial Operating Capability beyond the Navy’s current program of record.”

This is how it starts – the death by a thousand cuts.  The ‘it’s only one airplane a year for two years’ mentality will only increase overall costs, delay IOC and virtually guarantee a period of spares shortages and cannibalization early in the aircraft’s life – just like it did with the E-2C in the late 70’s and early 90’s.  As a good friend and fellow VAW CO wrote me earlier today:

“Sigh, this is very similar to what happened when Group II’s first got fielded. We did not buy enough aircraft up front, and as an extra added bonus it meant the Navy did not have a lot of spares. The result was the Group II squadrons gave up engines and other things and sat with hulk when they got home-so the other squadron could make enough aircraft to go on cruise.
Of course in those days the buy was six per year.”

I remember those days.  I remember coming back from 7-9 month deployments and spending the post-cruise period frantically stripping boxes, engines, even outer wing panels to help a sister squadron get ready for deployment.  I remember going through workups with critical pieces of equipment tagged out because their replacements were unavailable.  When you finally got the replacements – a week before deployment if you were lucky, you just practiced as best you could on the trans-Lant and hoped to be ready when on the line in the Med or IO.

As we see billions thrown at saving banks from their own egregious behavior, as we throw millions down ratholes labeled for honey bee factories, parking garages in Utah, and “pig odor research” we see DoD hit with budget cuts across the board, for forces that require re-equipping and rearmament to face a growing multitude of threats on a variety of fronts.

Integrated air and missile defense is a must for operations in the littorals, especially for assets with limited self defense capabilities and which depend on an extended umbrella from surface- and air-assets operating in associated or direct support.  In a future marked by proliferation of cruise missiles of all sorts – land-attack, anti-ship, supersonic, stealth, sea-skimming and high-diving, the requirement for a platform that is able to pick these difficult targets out of the clutter presented by the land-sea interface and overland environments is a firm “must-have.”  Yet it is not enough to just pick the targets out of the clutter – a system for the future must be able to transmit fire-control quality data over secure networks and ensure that everyone – sensor, shooter, evaluator is working from a common picture.

The E-2D not only matches up well in that arena, it is a pre-requisite if we expect to successfully execute the maritime strategy.

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E-2D Update

Full story here:  Flight-Test Program Accelerates For U.S. Navy’s E-2D

Couple of items worth noting:

Within three years, the U.S. Navy’s fleet will have fielded the technology for precisely locating small, flying targets. The target set embraces some of the Navy’s latest nightmares, including the next-generation of stealthy – sometimes supersonic – cruise missiles.Moreover, with the introduction of space-time adaptive processing (STAP) software, the hybrid APY-9 electronically scanned array (ESA) radar on board the new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will be able to pick those elusive flying targets out of a background of rough terrain and urban sprawl, a far different mission than the overwater detection capability of earlier Navy airborne early-warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.

Nice…

The goal is "one piece of metal, one track," Mahr says. "That means everyone is looking at a single picture. I’m going to have server capability on the E-2D that can maintain some historical piece of the picture. Other parts are going to be resident in ships and with ground forces. I am the central airborne piece."

Pretty much the goal since Cadillac I, but…

When cued by other intelligence sources, the ESA begins looking ahead and behind the mechanical scan so it can focus on a given piece of airspace to pick out small objects.  "I can track a fast target," Mahr says. "Whether I can acquire any other object is just a matter of how much [radar energy] I put on that particular target" and for how long.   "I may need to see more things [outside the range of the new radar]," Mahr says. "As we move into the world of unmanned and remote vehicles, we’re going to have a large amount of sensor data available. How we’re going to operate with those unmanned vehicles is not fully understood. In some way, every airborne platform will be integrated. That challenge is coming at us."

N-G also just won the BAMS-UA contract . . . things that make you go hmmmm…..

A few details have drifted out of the aerospace industry about the capability. So far, the Advanced Hawkeye’s radar has operated at only half power. Yet the radar’s range already equals that of the E-2C’s conventional radar and the volume of airspace it can monitor has tripled. Even a layman’s extrapolation would put the new E-2D’s range at least at 250 mi. More likely it’s limited only by the aircraft’s radar horizon.

Got our attention, that one did…

Electronic and network attack, for example, are not part of the Advanced Hawkeye’s portfolio.   "Electronic attack is like [the E-2D] carrying bombs; there’s no reason for it," Mahr says. "Other elements in the network do that."  A primary attraction of AESA radars is 2-3 times longer range than single aperture radars. They are also able to focus an array’s energy on enemy sensors and antennas for jamming, placing false targets and even serving as a conduit for the digital attack of integrated communications networks.   So far, at least, the E-2D won’t be operated with those missions in mind, but there are still some interesting electronic warfare applications.

Think "burn through"…

Well, a long time ago when YHS was but a mere pup and the E-2C was still new we wondered what those who flew the TBM-3W and AD-3/5W’s would think of our mighty war steed.  Looking at the Delta, we kinda get the feeling we know — a wee bit of envy but a whole lotta pride looking at our offspring…

Flightdeck Friday (III): E-2D Completes First Flight

A Flightdeck Friday "three-fer"  (From a Northrop Grumman press release)

 

 

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. — Aug. 3, 2007 — The first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye development aircraft, known as Delta One, built for the U.S. Navy by prime contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC),completed its first flight this afternoon. Northrop Grumman Flight Test Pilot Tom Boutin and U.S. Navy Flight Test Pilot Lt. Drew Ballinger along with Northrop Grumman Flight Test Lead Weapon Systems Operator Zyad Hajo lifted off shortly before 11 a.m. and flew for approximately1.3 hours.

 

"The flight today marks the transition from design, development and ground test to a tangible — an aircraft’s demonstration of its capability for the future fleet mission," said Capt. Randy Mahr, NAVAIR Hawkeye program manager. "From the drawing board to today’s flight, this has been a complete team effort with the Navy and industry. The team was ready for this mission today. Flying today was an important milestone — we are one step further along the road to get this needed capability to the warriors who launch in to harm’s way and play for keeps."

 

Next Generation AEW rolled out: E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla., April 30, 2007 (PRIME NEWSWIRE) — The first Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, being built for the U.S. Navy by prime contractor Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC), made its first public appearance at rollout ceremonies here today. The E-2D was designed in New York and built in St. Augustine.

The aircraft unveiled today is the first of two test aircraft to be built under the nearly $2 billion system demonstration and development contract awarded in 2001 to Northrop Grumman. According to Mahr, the Navy plans to procure a total of 75 Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.

While the external appearance is similar to the E-2C, the systems and capabilities which the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye contains are completely redesigned. At the heart of the aircraft is the new radar, the APY-9, designed and built by Lockheed Martin Corporation. It can “see” smaller targets and more of them at greater ranges than the E-2C. The new rotodome, developed by L-3 Communications Randtron Antenna Systems, contains the critically important, continuous, 360-degree scanning capability, while adding an electronically scanned array. This system allows operators to focus the radar on selected areas of interest.

Hawkeye operators will have new radar system workstations, integrated satellite communications capabilities and other tools to better manage the battle space and provide warfighters with expanded situational awareness and information to complete their missions.

An additional new feature of the E-2D is the state-of-the-art glass cockpit that replaces prior-generation Hawkeye displays and avionics systems. One of the advantages is that pilots can also serve as weapon system operators.

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will provide Joint U.S. forces and coalition partners airborne battle management command and control from the sea, in both the over-land and over-water environments.

The Navy and Northrop Grumman team will begin flight testing this fall in St. Augustine with further testing at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md. Navy squadrons will be equipped with Advanced Hawkeyes as they are delivered beginning in 2011.
(Full release here)