While the U.S. Navy celebrated its 245th birthday this October, the Airborne Command & Control Logistics Community marked a longevity milestone: the 60th anniversary of the maiden E-2 flight, Oct. 21.
On Oct. 21, 1960, the first flight of the E-2A occurred out of Bethpage, New York. Five years later, on Oct. 19, 1965, the U.S. Navy conducted its first E-2 deployment.
“For 60 years, the E-2 has been the eye in the sky for the U.S. Navy,” said Capt. Michael France, Commander, Airborne Command & Control Logistics Wing, who has flown more than 4,700 hours flying 25 different aircraft. “The E-2 has continued to manage the airspace in both times of peace and in times of conflict, and we are grateful for every pilot, maintainer, and aircrew who have supported this community.”
During an interview, Rear Adm. John Meier, Commander, Naval Air Force Atlantic on the admiral’s All Things Naval Aviation podcast, France discussed the test pilot who flew the first E-2.
“Oct. 21, 1960 was the first flight of the E-2 and was flown by test pilot Tom Attridge,” said France, who added that from the first test to today, the E-2 community is involved in three major transitions. “We are just over 50 percent complete with transitioning squadrons from the E-2C to the E-2D, as well as moving from E-2D to E-2D aerial refueling and the mission systems going from DSSC 2 to DSSC 3. An E-2D with Aerial Refueling and DSSC 3 will provide persistence on station with tremendous mission capability.”
Meier discussed how the advancements in the E-2 community to the E-2D Aerial Refueling serves as an example of the true strength of carrier aviation and the evolution of the Air Wing.
“When we talk about the evolution of the Air Wing and what makes a Carrier Air Wing so relevant is the fact that it brings its own airborne early warning, it brings its own airborne electronic attack, it brings its own organic refueling capability, and a whole host of long-range detection and command and control,” said Meier.
The all-weather, carrier-based platform has continued to increase its capability over the past six decades with the introduction of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye in 2010. Typically, on any given deployment the E-2 is the first to launch and the last to recover on the flight deck due to the important role it serves for the Carrier Strike Group.
“The E-2 continues its long history of deploying and providing mission critical capabilities to the fleet,” said France, who added that the capabilities of a command & control platform are significantly advanced with the advent of the E-2D.
The technological advancements of the E-2D expand the tactical capabilities of the aircraft within its preexisting mission set. The APY-9 radar enables detection of smaller contacts and at greater ranges, while the weapons system suite quickly processes and relays this information to the Carrier Strike Group.
As part of the Air Wing of the Future, the E-2D will maximize the offensive power of the Carrier Air Wing.
“The radar, radios and datalinks have improved significantly over the years, and with each new generation, such as the E-2D, the Navy has successfully learned how to leverage those advanced capabilities to our asymmetric advantage,” said France.
France added that having the capability to exploit Hawkeye radar technology for earlier and precise detection is a game changer.
The E-2 community supports a variety of mission sets, including Airborne Early Warning, battle management command and control, strike and intercept control, maritime domain awareness, border and coastline protection, air traffic control, search and rescue coordination, and humanitarian assistance.
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