Northrop Grumman hopes to keep open the Hawkeye 2000 production line for four years through a combination of US Navy follow-on acquisitions and foreign sales.

The company is negotiating a second Hawkeye 2000 multi-year production contract with the USN for eight aircraft to plug the gap in the St Augustine, Florida, production line, from next year to the start of work on the first Advanced Hawkeye in 2008.

As a result the navy plans to order two aircraft a year during 2004-7, half of them TE-2C trainers devoid of mission systems. The final two will be development aircraft for the Advanced Hawkeye. "A Rand study indicated nominally we needed three to four aircraft a year for industrial base preservation. That's why we're trying to convert to a multi-year to offer our subcontractors base stability as they go forward," says Tom Williams, team leader and vice-president Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems.

Northrop Grumman is looking to the international market to make up the shortfall. The United Arab Emirates is thought to be the next prospective customer, negotiating to purchase and upgrade four USN surplus Group 0 standard E-2Cs.

Source: Flight International