Northrop Grumman and the US Navy have flown the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye carrier-based airborne early warning aircraft for the first time.
The first of two development aircraft, Delta One, completed a 1.3h maiden flight from Northrop's St Augustine, Florida on 3 August, flown by Navy test pilot Lt Drew Ballinger, Northrop test pilot Tom Boutin and flight-test weapon system operator Zyad Hajo. The E-2D is an upgrade of the E-2C Hawkeye AEW aircraft now operating from US Navy carrier decks.
The E-2D features a new Lockheed Martin APY-9 radar that combines traditional 360-degree mechanical rotation with electronic scanning, which allows the operators to focus the radar on selected areas of interest. The Advanced Hawkeye also has a new glass cockpit that allows one of the two pilots to act as a fourth operator.
Northrop is working under a $2 billion system development and demonstration contract awarded in August 2003. The second flight-test aircraft will fly later this year, and the first three of at least 75 production aircraft were ordered in July. The E-2D is to enter service in 2011.