Northrop Grumman plans to fly the prototype E-2CHawkeye 2000 airborne early warning aircraft next month. The aircraft is the first to incorporate all of the upgrades planned for the Hawkeye 2000, including the co-operative engagement capability (CEC).

An E-2C has been flying since January 1997 with the mission computer upgrade and new operator workstations planned for the Hawkeye 2000. The second aircraft incorporates these and the remaining improvements: vapour-cycle cooling system, satellite communications and the CEC - which allows sensor information to be exchanged between surface combatants and the aircraft.

Beginning in 1999, new E-2Cs for the US Navy will be built to the Hawkeye 2000 standard. The Navy plans to buy 21 new aircraft and upgrade some 50 existing Group II E-2Cs, with the aim of having an all-Hawkeye 2000 fleet by 2010.

The first E-2C for the French navy will be delivered in April. Two aircraft will be based in the USA for training until the end of the year.

Source: Flight International