French Navy to Procure E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes for 2026-2028


The French Navy is looking to procure some E-2D Advanced Hawkeye carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft from Northrop Grumman for delivery in about ten years, Navy Recognition has learned.


French Navy to Procure E 2D Advanced Hawkeyes for 2026 2028 The French Navy currently operates three E-2C Haweyes from its sole aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle. Navy Recognition picture.


A French Navy spokesman explained to us that "three E-2Ds are scheduled to be delivered by 2026-2028. They will renew the 'gateway' function of the French naval aviation". Navy Recognition understands a formal order for the Advanced Hawkeyes should be placed in the next French military planning law (LPM) set to be released in 2024. France just issued its 2019-2025 military planning law.

The French Navy Naval Aviation (Force maritime de l'aéronautique navale) Flottille 4F currently operates three E-2C Hawkeyes acquired from the United States acquired in 1998, 1999 and 2004. It is the only Hawkeye operator with the United Sates to deploy the AEW aircraft from aircraft carriers.

In the meantime, the three French E-2C will be mordernized and upgraded: "From 2017 until 2019, the naval aviation E-2Cs are in a retrofit phase. Its scope is the modernization of weapons system, electronic warfare and IFF, as well as tactical consoles (2 sensors out of 3 are replaced), and obsolescence processing to meet the requirements of interoperability. Modernization work is carried out by the manufacturer Northrop Grumman, in France at AIA Cuers" a naval aviation Public Affairs Officer told Navy Recognition. The AIA (Atelier Industriel de l'Aéronautique) is a French MoD facility specialized in aircraft maintenance.

Navy Recognition first learned about the French interest in E-2D Advanced Hawkeye during the SNA 2018 tradeshow held in Washington D.C. in January. Northrop Grumman didn't want to comment on this topic.

If procured, the E-2Ds will replace the E-2Cs. The French interest in the E-2D seem to be in line with the possible procurement of a new aircraft carrier for the French Navy. As we reported recently, France is set to launch studies on the replacement of its sole aircraft carrier, the Charles de Gaulle, which should be decommissioned around 2040. Procuring E-2Ds for a mere 10 years would not make sense for the French Navy if there is no carrier replacement.


French Navy to Procure E 2D Advanced Hawkeyes for 2026 2028 2 Two E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes flying in formation. Northrop Grumman picture.


About the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is the newest variant of the E-2 aircraft platform. It features a new radar and upgraded aircraft systems. The U.S. Navy is set to receive 75 Advanced Hawkeyes by 2027. The IOC was declared in October 2014. The first aircraft carrier deployment took place aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt in March 2015. The E-2D conducted its first flight on August 3, 2007.

The Japan Ministry of Defense became the first export customer of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye in 2014 to fulfill the nation's airborne early warning requirements. Northrop Grumman began production in 2016 on two aircraft. First flight of a JASDF E-2D took place in November last year.

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye provides 360-degree automatic, simultaneous air and sea surface radar detection with multimode long-range identification friend or foe (IFF) detection, automatic radar correlation, and long-range passive detection and classification of electronic emitters. It distributes the tactical picture to command centers and other assets through its onboard communication subsystems.

The E-2D may look like a C model but actually features many differences: All the electronics, from the radar to the aircraft systems and avionics have been upgraded. The cockpit features 3 large (17 inch) display that the pilot and co-pilot can use not only to fly the aircraft but also to receive the same information as in the combat information center (CIC) in the back. The CIC features three workstations (with 20 inch display, featuring open architecture and computing environment) for one ACO (Air Control Officer), a CICO (Combat Information Center Officer) and a RO (Radar Officer). Compared to legacy "C" model Hawkeyes, the "D" model features a new environmental control system (with better cooling capacity), a new digital ESM, a new electrical system (with vast margin for future growth), new mission data processing (based on COTS components, high-speed processors and a fiber-optic LAN), upgraded communications...


French Navy to Procure E 2D Advanced Hawkeyes for 2026 2028 3 The first E-2D equipped with aerial refueling successfully received its first in-flight fuel transfer from a tanker aircraft on July 14, 2017. NAVAIR picture.


Maximized endurance thanks to future in-flight refueling capability
In January this year, the U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman a contract for engineering, manufacturing and demonstration of an in-flight refueling (IFR) system for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft. The greater endurance provided by in-flight refueling will provide the U.S. Navy with increased surveillance and targeting capability and the persistence needed to accomplish this more effectively. It will also allow the aircraft to loiter for longer period of time, further out. A mature aerial refueling test program with production cut-in is planned for 2018 and initial operating capability is planned for 2020.

To increase crew effectiveness during the longer missions (up to 8 hours thanks to IFR), Northrop Grumman offers "optional air vehicle enhancements" consisting in:
» Food and beverage galley
» Crew lavatory
» Ergonomic seats
» Noise canceling aviation headsets
» Air conditioning

To learn more about the E-2D multi-mission capabilities and its AN/APY-9 radar, read our focus on the aircraft from 2014, when Navy Recognition visited the Northrop Grumman facility in Melbourne, Florida.


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