The aircraft we introduce today is the all-weather, carrier-borne tactical AEW (Airborne Early Warning) aircraft. The name of this aircraft is Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye which was the twin-turboprop aircraft that was designed and manufactured by the company named Grumman Aircraft Company back in the 1960s for the USAF (the United States Air Force). The aircraft was designed to replace the US navy’s aging fleet of the piston engine-powered aircraft; E-1 tracer.
The Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye has been upgraded to variants designated as E-2B and E-2C with major changes being made in the radar and its radio communications following the advancements in the electronic integrated circuits as well as the other electronics. The 4th major model of the earlier Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye is the one named E-2D which took its first flight back in 2007. The Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye holds the title for being the aircraft that was introduced back in 1960 and it is still in production which makes it the longest serial production carrier-borne aircraft today.
The Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye was also given the nickname Super Fudd and previously it was known as Willy Fudd. As for the latest nicknames of this aircraft, it is Hummer because of the very distinct sound that the turboprop engines of the aircraft produced unlike that of the turbofan jet and the turbojet engines. Although the US navy is the primary operator for this aircraft, the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye has also been sold to other following military forces across the globe.
Background and First Flight:-
The very first carrier-borne aircraft of the US navy was named Douglas AD Skyraider which was then replaced by the Grumman E-1 Tracer which was then also modified to be the S-2 Tracker; an anti-submarine warfare aircraft which also carried the radar system in its radome located above the fuselage section.
Back in 1956 US navy asked for an aircraft with the requirement of being an AW aircraft, the data of which could be then integrated with the NTDS (Navy Tactical Data System) located on the ship of the navy. The Grumman Aircraft was chosen for this project with the delivery of design to be made in March of 1957. The aircraft’s original designation was W2F-1 which was later changed to be E-2A Hawkeye.
The very first prototype of the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye was ready for its aerodynamics test back in October of 1 960 and took its first flight on October 21st of the same year. As for the fully equipped prototype, it made its first flight back on April 19th, 1961 and entered the service of the US Navy back in January of 1964 designated E-2A.
Serial Production canceled due to Systems overheating:-
It was not until 1965 that the E-2A model of the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye underwent major problems mostly in its development that led to the aircraft order being canceled only after 59 units were manufactured. The major problem was the heating problem that led to insufficient cooling of the avionics compartment as well as the computer systems resulting in failures due to extreme heat. This led to even the whole fleet of the E-2A aircraft to be grounded from active service.
This led to the upgrading of the E-2A already manufactured and re-designated as E-2Bs and nearly 49 of them were created. The design was improved by replacing the rotary drum computer with the Litton L-304 digital computer as well as other avionics also being changed.
Birth of E-2C Hawkeye:-
In 1968 another modification and reliability improvement was carried out on the E-2B models of the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye series which led to the creation of 29 of E-2Cs. The upgrades this time were made in the computer and radar performances.
Powerplant and Performance:-
Power was delivered to the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye by twin Allison/Rolls Royce T56-A-427 which delivered about 5100 SHP each. This allowed for the aircraft to fly at a top speed of about 400mph while the cruising speed was about 295mph. as for the ferry range, the aircraft could cover a range of about 1682 miles while its endurance measured to be 6 hours. The aircraft’s service ceiling was 34700 feet.
US Navy Nickname as “Eyes of Fleet”:-
The very first fleet of the E-2A entered service of the US navy back in 1964 whereas the very first deployment of this aircraft from aboard an aircraft carrier was back in 1965 from the USS Kitty Hawk. The Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye served initially the US navy during the Vietnam War and since then has helped the US navy in all their global conflicts. The aircraft even has a nickname the electronic “Eyes of the Fleet”.
Service with other US government departments:-
In addition to serving the US Navy, the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye has also been of service to other non-military US government departments like the US Customs Service and the US Coast Guard as well as the US federal state police forces for their anti-drug missions.
The export of the Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye was also carried out to the other world militaries as well regulated by the US Federal Government under the FMS (Foreign Military Sales) to the following nations.
Unofficial names of E-2 series and Current Status:-
The E-2 series of the aircraft are also known by their unofficial nicknames like the Hummer and Super Fudd. The nickname Hummer is given because of the aircraft’s turboprop engines creating distinct sounds unlike those of the turbojet engines. While the nickname Super Fudd is given due to the aircraft replacing the E-1 series which was known by its own nickname of Willy Fudd.
The Northrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye s still in use with the latest variant in its line being designated as E-2D Hawkeye which had its first fight back in 2007.