Software problems will delay the production of a new mission computer for the US Navy's Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye 2000 until at least March 2003, a year later than planned.

In May, Northrop Grumman won a $1.3 billion five-year production contract for 22 Hawkeye 2000s - 21 for the USN and one for the French navy - securing E-2 production to at least 2006. The Hawkeye 2000 incorporates an open architecture central mission computer upgrade (MCU), advanced controller indicator set (ACIS) workstations and co-operative engagement capability. It is also planned to upgrade group 2-standard aircraft with Hawkeye 2000 capabilities.

The new computer, which uses commercial off-the-shelf technology, is based on the Raytheon Model 940, a modification of Digital Equipment's 2100. It replaces the larger, heavier and ageing Litton L-304 analogue computer. Initially, the new computer was unstable in flight, forcing flights to be abandoned, or needing lengthy reboots. Stability has improved and new software has resolved some MCU/ACIS interface problems.

The Hawkeye 2000 delay was reported to US Congress in the Department of Defense's quarterly Selected Acquisition Report. This also reveals that the USN's Extremely High Frequency satellite communications programme has slipped by 25 months because of the 30 April failure of a Lockheed Martin Titan IV/Centaur to put an $800 million Milstar satellite into the correct orbit.

Meanwhile, the USN says problems with the control actuation system on the Raytheon AIM-9X Sidewinder air-to-air missile will push the start of initial operational testing and evaluation from August 2001 to November 2002. The production decision has been delayed by a year, to March 2003.

The Pentagon report also reveals for the first time the baseline programme cost for the Raytheon Block IV Tactical Tomahawk programme. The USN has earmarked $1.9 billion for the advanced cruise missile. Raytheon has a fixed-price contract for 1,350 Block IVs. Initial low-rate production will start in 2001, with the missile to enter service in 2003.

Source: Flight International