E-2D Advanced Hawkeye: US Navy’s airborne ‘digital quarterback’ aircraft

The aircraft is one of Northrop Grumman's best models.
Loukia Papadopoulos
The E-2D Hawkeye is an impressive Navy aircraft.jpg
The E-2D Hawkeye is an impressive Navy aircraft.

US Navy/Wikimedia  

The Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye is an American all-weather, carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning aircraft. Its latest and most advanced version is the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, which features the AN/APY-9 radar (capable of detecting fighter-sized stealth aircraft), radio suite, mission computer, integrated satellite communications, flight management system, improved T56-A-427A engines, a glass cockpit and aerial refueling.

A game changer

According to its maker’s website the aircraft “is a game changer in how the Navy conducts battle management command and control. By serving as the “digital quarterback” to sweep ahead of strike, manage the mission, and keep our net-centric carrier battle groups out of harms way, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is the key to advancing the mission, no matter what it may be."

"The E-2D gives the warfighter expanded battlespace awareness, especially in the area of information operations delivering battle management, theater air and missile defense, and multiple sensor fusion capabilities in an airborne system.”

There are an estimated total of 51 of those aircraft out there today that were produced by Northrop Grumman through a series of contracts starting from June 2013 to January 2022. In fact, on January 21, 2022, Northrop Grumman successfully delivered the 51st U.S. Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye production aircraft, the AA-52.

“With a two-generation leap in radar sensor capability and a robust network enabled capability, the Advanced Hawkeye delivers critical, actionable data to joint forces and first responders. These advances provide warfighters with the necessary situational awareness to compress the time between initial awareness and active engagement,” further states Northrop Grumman.

Many previous contracts

Previous contracts to deliver the aircraft include a $113.7 million contract for five full-rate production Lot 2 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft for June 2013, a $617 million contract for five E-2Ds until full-rate production Lot 1 in August 2013, and a $3.6 billion contract to supply 25 more E-2D in August 2014.

Notable developments in the introduction of the aircraft include the first time an E-2D flew fitted with an aerial refueling capability in December 2016, allowing the aircraft to double its time on station to five hours and increase total mission time from four to seven hours.

This refueling modification, however, had not been originally fitted to all the craft, starting only with the 46th plane and costing an additional $2 million per aircraft. The Navy later made plans to retrofit the feature on all previous Hawkeyes for $6 million per plane.

The E-2 Hawkeye has many nicknames. It is often called the "Super Fudd" because it replaced the WF "Willy Fudd" and has also commonly been referred to as the "Hummer" because of the unique sounds its turboprop engines make. The E-2 Hawkeye is also an international plane having been procured to the armed forces of Egypt, France, Israel, Japan, Mexico, Singapore and Taiwan.

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