E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Makes First Flight

E-2D test aircraft "Delta One" lifts off for it's first flight with test pilot Lt. Drew Ballinger, Northrop test pilot Tom Boutin and weapon system operator Zyad Hajo.
Photo: USN

8/3/2007 - A Navy and Northrop Grumman integrated test team flew the skies of St. Augustine, Fla., in Delta One - the first of two Advanced Hawkeye test aircraft - for the first time Aug. 3.

Advanced Hawkeye flight test pilot Lt. Drew Ballinger along with Northrop Grumman flight test pilot Tom Boutin and flight test weapon system operator Zyad Hajo, lifted off shortly before 11 a.m. and flew for approximately 1.3 hours. The flight crew’s role was observation, the gathering of data from air vehicle systems, and the aerodynamic responses in flight.

“The flight today marks the transition from design, development and ground test, to a tangible - an aircraft’s demonstration of its capability for the future fleet mission,” said Capt. Randy Mahr, NAVAIR Hawkeye program manager.

This new edition airborne early warning command-and-control aircraft is equipped with the future resources critical to the Navy’s network-centric strategy.

With radar that extends the carrier battle group’s line-of-sight, the Advanced Hawkeye has a 360-degree array with added electronic scan system and lock-down feature, which allows concentration on targets of potential threat. “It will sweep the mission frontlines to provide critical intelligence ahead of our strike aircraft,” said Mahr.

The aircraft’s glass cockpit system displays equip the pilot and co-pilot with the ability to switch screens from flight to crew mission displays. This allows four - rather than the traditional three - Naval flight officers, to perform the aircraft’s command-and-control missions and expand information conveyed to the battlegroup commander.

“From the drawing board to today’s flight this has been a complete team effort with the Navy and industry. The team was ready for this mission today. Flying today was an important milestone – we are one step further along the road to get this needed capability to the warriors who launch in to harms way and play for keeps,”, said Mahr.

“This is an exceptionally exciting time for our team as we enter a new phase and begin the intense work of flight test,” said Cmdr. Roger Ligon, commanding officer of Air Test and Evaluation squadron 20 (VX-20).

Two test aircraft are being built under the system development and demonstration contract with Northrop Grumman Corporation. Delta One rolled off the production line at the corporation’s St. Augustine manufacturing facility and began ground test there in the spring. Delta Two has since joined it in ground test at the facility.

“This aircraft’s first flight is the realization of phenomenal teaming. A team comprised of program office, industry and test experts, committed to delivering this critical, capable centerpiece of the future carrier flight deck,” said Mahr.

Testing will continue at the St. Augustine facility until the aircraft arrives at NAS Patuxent River in early 2009, where flight and operational testing will be completed by VX-20 and VX-1.

The Advanced Hawkeye will begin arriving in E-2 squadrons in 2011 and is expected to serve the Fleet well in to the middle of the next century.

Source: USN Press Release by Drema Ballengee-Grunst

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