Hawkeye’s watching brief

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft, which promises improved surveillance and communications, made its debut in New York last week.

The aircraft is the first of two to be built by Northrop Grumman in a £1bn system demonstration and development contract that it won in 2001.

The US Navy is to buy 75 Hawkeyes, which can give advance warning of approaching enemy surface units, cruise missiles or aircraft and provide area surveillance, communications relay, search-and-rescue co-ordination and air traffic control.

At the heart of the aircraft is the new radar, the APY-9, designed and built by Lockheed Martin. This is able to ‘see’ smaller targets and at greater ranges than its predecessor, the E-2C.

The new rotodome contains a continuous, 360º scanning capability, while adding an electronically scanned array. This system allows operators to focus the radar on selected areas.

Hawkeye operators will have new radar system workstations, integrated satellite comm- unications capabilities and a host of other technologies. The aircraft is said to give pilots ‘expanded situational awareness’ and spatial information.

An additional feature is the glass cockpit, which replaces prior-generation Hawkeye displays and avionics systems.

The aircraft also includes terrain-avoidance systems and global air traffic management system enhancements.

The navy and Northrop Grumman will begin flight testing in the autumn.

It is expected that the first navy squadrons will be equipped with Advanced Hawkeyes by 2011.