E-2 Hawkeye (aka "The Hummer") History
The Northrop Grumman legacy in airborne early warning and battle management systems is long. The rugged, reliable Hawkeye 2000 is the latest of five generations aircraft built by Northrop Grumman since the mid-1940s. At that time, a TBF-3 Avenger was modified with the first-generation airborne search radar. This was followed in the mid-1950s by the E-1B. In 1964, the Navy took delivery of the first aircraft specifically designed for AEW, the E-2A Hawkeye, 59 of which were delivered through 1967. They flew in Vietnam combat from the USS Kitty Hawk and USS Ranger. E-2A's were modified to E-2B's with a then-new, programmable, high-speed digital computer.
The continuous improvements in early airborne radars by 1956 led to the concept of an airborne early warning and command and control aircraft. The first aircraft to perform this mission was the Grumman E-1 Tracer (a variant of the S-2 Tracker anti-submarine aircraft), which saw service from 1954 to 1964.
In 1964, the Navy took delivery of the first aircraft specifically designed for AEW, the E-2A Hawkeye, 59 of which were delivered through 1967. Since that time, they have become a regular part of the fleet's defensive and offensive forces. The first Hawkeyes went to sea aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CVA 63) with VAW-11 in 1966. They flew in Vietnam combat from the USS Kitty Hawk and USS Ranger. The E-2A Hawkeye was designed with one primary mission in mind: patrolling the approaches to the fleet to detect impending attack by hostile aircraft, missiles or sea forces. In addition to this AEW function, the E-2A provided strike and traffic control, area surveillance, search and rescue guidance, navigational assistance and communications relay services.
The E-2A was updated in 1969 to the E-2B, with advanced radar, improved computer systems, and expanded surveillance and command control capability. E-2A's were modified to E-2B's with a new programmable, high-speed digital computer.
The E-2C program began in 1968. The E-2C prototype made its first flight in 1971, and the first 11 operational aircraft were delivered to the Navy two years later. The E-2C replaced the earlier E-2B version. E-2C aircraft entered US Navy service with Airborne Early Warning Squadron 123 (VAW-123) at NAS Norfolk, VA in November 1973. The E-2C has continued to incorporate improvements to keep pace with technology advances and the changing operational environment. Deliveries have totaled more than 140 for the Navy and more than 30 for allied forces.
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