ATSUGI, Japan (NNS) -- Three new E-2C Hawkeye 2000 aircraft arrived at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan to join Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 115 Feb. 28.
The improved E-2C Hawkeye 2000 carries advanced capabilities over its predecessor in the areas of detection, processing, identification, communication and navigation.
Their arrival, along with 24 newer F/A-18E Super Hornets in the past two months, is part of several recent upgrades to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 making it the most powerful and capable airwing in the Western Pacific region and the U.S. Navy.
According to Capt. Ross Myers, commanding officer of CVW 5, this upgrade goes beyond increasing just the battle group's efficiency.
"The capability that the Hawkeye 2000 brings to Carrier Air Wing 5 is more than just the squadron," said Myers. "It brings to the entire air wing capabilities that we have never had before and in a greater scope it brings to the joint security cooperation between the United States and the Government of Japan in defense of Japan and Japanese self defense forces a greater capability and lethality for the strike fighters."
Key among the advances is the cooperative engagement capability upgrade which enables the Hawkeye to serve as the fleet's information hub, fusing and distributing information from sources such as satellite and ship-borne radar. This enhanced technology provides better data links to ships conducting ballistic missile defense operations at sea, expanding the reach of U.S. Navy maritime operations in the 7th Fleet area of responsibility.
VAW 115's maintenance officer and naval flight officer Lt. Cmdr. Bill Selk has worked with the E-2C Hawkeye for over a decade and feels this new upgrade will play a vital role in CVW 5's mission.
"From the outside both airplanes look almost identical, but from the inside it brings a whole new level of capability for us," said Selk. "It has a few new displays and a few new systems that will really enhance our situational awareness and will help us convey that to the battle space."
The Hawkeye 2000's arrival was no surprise to the squadron. According to Cmdr. Chris Martin, VAW 115's commanding officer, the squadron had an ample amount of resources to make the transition a simple one.
"We started about six to eight months ago. We started looking at our training requirements and began planning," Martin said. "Also we have maintenance training teams coming from the U.S. and as well as our fleet replacement squadron to help us transition to the new airplane."
As for the maintainers, the transition shouldn't place too much change in how they handle required maintenance.
"Most of the systems are the same with the exceptions of the electricians and avionics technicians," said Selk. "There will be some new systems for them to learn and I know they are excited to get their hands on them and show us what they can do with them."
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