Northrop Grumman’s Integrated Systems sector has been awarded a $1.9 billion contract to begin full System Development and Demonstration (SDD) of the US Navy’s Advanced Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft.
The Advanced Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning and Control system will be a modified version of Northrop Grumman’s E-2 Hawkeye, an all weather airborne early warning aircraft capable of flying at altitudes above 25,000 feet.
According to Northrop Grumman, the Advanced Hawkeye system will give the Navy far greater threat detection capabilities over land and water, with greater range and precision than any similar system and will be the foundation for the Navy’s theatre air missile defence functions.
Advanced Hawkeye’s new communications systems will make it a major node in the Navy’s FORCEnet information/decisions grid, enabling it to provide and integrate key information and surveillance data, fuse decision data and provide forward control and communications capabilities.
‘The Advanced Hawkeye will provide the enhanced airborne command and control and expanded surveillance umbrella that will be a foundation of SeaPower 21,’ said NAVAIR E-2/C-2 Program Manager Capt. Robert LaBelle. ‘This new platform will be key to the Navy’s role in future military strategy.’
Two SDD aircraft will be built in Northrop Grumman’s St. Augustine, Florida facility, with delivery and the start of operational testing scheduled for 2007. Initial Operational Capability is planned for 2011.
Among the Advanced Hawkeye’s features are terrain avoidance systems and global air traffic management system enhancements.
The SDD program will also focus on reducing production and total operational support costs. Some of the structures on current Hawkeyes are built-up from individual sheet metal parts. These structures will be replaced by single-piece machined parts to reduce both cost and time needed to construct the subassemblies and mate fuselages.
Two-level maintenance concepts, coupled with automated system test capabilities, are being explored to reduce total ownership costs.