The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, the Navy’s newest airborne early warning and control aircraft, made its first launch Feb. 1, from USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75).
Air Test and Evaluation Squadron (VX) 20 representatives and aircrew from Patuxent River, Md., are aboard Truman to conduct suitability testing on the new aircraft.
“Truman is here to provide the squadron with the platform they need to perform the testing,” said Lt. Cmdr. Rodney Moss, USS Harry S. Truman aircraft handler. “We will be supporting their test equipment on board, as well as aiding them in launch and recovery efforts.”
“The idea of the E2-D started in the late 90’s as kind of just a concept,” said Cmdr. Mike Santomauro, flight test director. “The aircraft they are landing today began its initial testing back in 2007. The fact that we are even coming out to this ship is the culmination of more than a year-and-a-half of effort to get to here.”
The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will not provide a significant change in the mission of early warning and control; however, it will enable the aircraft to perform its mission with greater improvements.
“It is a two-generation leap in surveillance capabilities, and it’s going to be a game changer in information dominance for the U.S. Navy,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead said during a speech in 2010.
The new aircraft will be able to scan a larger area, detect smaller objects and process information quickly than its predecessor. The aircrews will be able to accomplish these tasks through improved all-glass cockpits and tactical operator stations.
“There are a lot of things that have changed,” said Santomauro. “The old E-2C had a lot of steam gauges, but the cockpit of the new E2-D is composed entirely of glass with flat screen control panels.”
The aircraft will go through a rigorous six-day testing period during which the squadron will determine whether the E2-D is effective in a operational shipboard environment.
“We will make our determinations based on any discrepancies with the airframe or whether we see any gaps in the anticipated capability,” said Santomauro. “We have about 200 test points we are trying to accomplish.”
Truman provided the pilots of VX-20 the chance to make the E-2D’s much-anticipated first recovery and launch from an aircraft carrier.
“So far, the testing is going very well,” said Santomauro. “Through developmental tests we are moving toward making determinations of whether the aircraft is suitable for use.”
“There is not going to be anything new for the guys working on the flight deck,” said Moss. “It is more about the data the pilots are collecting while they are up there.”
This new aircraft serves as the U.S. Navy’s continual effort to maintain excellence and gain the competitive advantage over all challengers.
“We are fulfilling the CNO’s vision for how he wants to fight wars in the future,” said Santomauro. “I think we are going to link a lot of pieces together to make a more effective fighting force.”