The government of France signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) with the U.S. government to procure three Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye tactical Airborne Early Warning (AEW) aircraft, on Dec. 2.
The three airborne command and control aircraft are being procured for the French Navy (Marine Nationale) under the U.S. Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program with the U.S. Navy acting as the contracting activity. The FMS sale, worth an estimated $2 billion, was approved by the U.S. State Department last year.
The LOA allows the U.S. Navy to begin contracting activities with Northrop Grumman for production of the aircraft. The signed LOA secures the sale that will include three E-2D aircraft, nonrecurring engineering, spares, repairs and support equipment, training and follow-on support, within the congressional approval funding limit.
The three E-2Ds are scheduled to be delivered by 2028 and will replace the three existing E-2C Hawkeyes of the French Navy.
“The E-2/C-2 program office is looking forward to continuing a longstanding partnership with France and beginning a new chapter with the E-2D,” said Capt. Pete Arrobio, program manager of the E-2/C-2 Airborne Command & Control Systems Program Office (PMA-231) at U.S. Navy. “This procurement will increase interoperability among the U.S. Fleet and international partners.”
“The procurement of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will provide France a generational leap in capability for unparalleled situational awareness for their air defense fleets,” said Janice Zilch, vice president, manned airborne surveillance programs at Northrop Grumman. “We have a long standing relationship with France as it transitions to E-2D’s from a two-decade legacy of E-2C aircraft.”
The French Navy E-2Ds will be adapted to the service’s needs by the integration of a specific computer, developed by SIAé, which will guarantee the capacity for autonomous development of the system.
Like the E-2Cs operated by the Navy’s 4 Flotilla (4 Flotille, 4F), the three E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will be stationed at the Lann Bihoue Naval Air Base (Base Aéronavale de Lann Bihoué) in Morbihan and will be deployed on Navy’s sole operational aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle, and ultimately on its successor.
The French Navy has been operating the E-2C Hawkeye since 1998 and is the only country other than the United States to operate its E-2 Hawkeyes from an aircraft carrier. This capability enables interoperability exercises that support Hawkeyes from each other’s carrier flight decks. With the U.S. Navy’s fleet transition to E-2D squadrons, the French Navy intends to maintain interoperability and partnership by taking steps to procure three E-2D aircraft.
With this procurement, the French Navy becomes the second international customer of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. The Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) has purchased 13 E-2D aircraft to date.
Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (AHE)
The E-2D AHE, produced by Northrop Grumman, represents a two-generation leap in technology compared to its predecessor, the E-2C Hawkeye. The aircraft features a state-of-the-art radar and upgraded aircraft systems that improve supportability and increase readiness.
The centerpiece of the E-2D AHE is the APY-9 radar system, designed specifically to provide enhanced surveillance detection and tracking capability against advanced threat aircraft and cruise missile systems in the overland, littoral, and open ocean environments.
With the addition of aerial refueling capabilities, the E-2D remains one of the most advanced command and control platform in the world.