Northrop Grumman is to begin preliminary work prior to full scale system development and demonstration next year

The US Navy has awarded Northrop Grumman a contract to begin preliminary engineering work on the E-2C Radar Modernisation Programme (RMP). The move is in preparation for planned start of full scale system development and demonstration (SDD) next year, ensuring that the Hawkeye remains the US Navy's principal airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) platform for the next 25 years.

The Naval Air Systems Command has given notice that it will negotiate a sole source SDD contract with Northrop Grumman for the development, integration and installation of new radar in theE-2C. Initial funding for the seven-year-long RMP will start in the next fiscal year 2003 budget, with the first new aircraft to be delivered in 2008 and reaching an initial operational capability by 2010.

In the interim, Northrop Grumman has secured an initial $49 million funding for pre-SDD work over the next 12 months. At the heart of the planned Advanced Hawkeye will be a new rotating electronic ADS-18 antenna, receiver and 21-channel rotary coupler. The space-time adaptive system will utilise the same dorsal mounted rotodome currently housing the APS-145 mechanically steered radar.

The US Navy under a separate effort is continuing to evaluate a fixed UHF electronically steerable array as an alternative or follow-on to ADS-18. RMP is intended to significantly enhance the E-2C detection capabilities, particularly in high clutter littoral environments and, with the addition of infra-red search and track system, will give the aircraft a theatre missile defence capability. The E-2C in addition will feature a newly designed glass cockpit.

RMP leverages off the investment already made in Hawkeye 2000, which includes upgraded mission computers, a co-operative engagement capability, tactical displays, electronic support measures and communications. The USN is in the process of receiving 21 new Hawkeye 2000's and must decide on extending long-lead production beyond 2003 to bridge the gap until work starts on Advanced Hawkeye. The final Hawkeye 2000 is set for delivery in early 2006.

Source: Flight International