The latest Aircraft-Carrier operated Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) aircraft – the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye – has been approved to enter full-rate production by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The decision followed a report where the E-2D was declared operationally suitable and effective, following a successful 10-month initial operational test and evaluation (IOT&E) conducted by the U.S. Navy. “I’m confident we will meet our ultimate goal to provide a capable and ready fleet with E-2Ds as we prepare for the first deployment in 2015” said Capt. John S. Lemmon, E-2/C-2 Airborne Tactical Data System Program Office (PMA-231) program manager.
“With the Navy’s E-2D program of record at 75 aircraft, this decision by OSD enables the production of the remaining 55 aircraft over the next 10 years and provides the opportunity for a cost-effective, multiyear procurement,” said Bart LaGrone, vice president, E-2/C-2 programs, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems – the developer and manufacturer of the E-2D. To date, Northrop Grumman has delivered nine E-2Ds to the U.S. Navy on or ahead of schedule, with another 11 aircraft in various stages of manufacturing and pre-delivery flight testing. The pentagon has also cleared export of the E-2D to few countries, where its carrier suitability positions the E-2D as a unique solution for naval AEW support.
Conducted by the U.S. Navy’s Air Test and Evaluation Squadron One, IOT&E is a rigorous phase of testing that every new system undergoes to determine that it is operationally effective and suitable for fleet introduction. A successful IOT&E is a key factor leading to a successful full-rate production decision and is a necessary step leading to a multiyear procurement.