BETHPAGE, N.Y. --- Northrop Grumman Corporation has mated the major subassemblies of the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye test aircraft at its St. Augustine, Fla., manufacturing center into a single fuselage structure, taking the E-2D program another milestone closer to the scheduled first flight in the summer of 2007.
The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will be the U.S. Navy's new airborne early warning and battle management system and a key node in the service's architecture for 21st century operations: Sea Power 21.
“If you read the U.S. Navy's 2006 program guide, many of the technological improvements being incorporated in the Hawkeye represent leading-edge improvements in U.S. forces, not just in the Navy's theater air and missile defense programs,'' said Tim Farrell, vice president of Airborne Early Warning Programs for Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. “In about a year's time, our customer community will first experience the on-delivery power and the open-ended potential of our new radar and the rest of the E-2D system as a network-centric warfare enabler.
“Until then, we take pride in the E-2D platform as it begins to take shape through the new manufacturing process that we have applied to this program.”
Northrop Grumman is building two E-2D test aircraft. The second will be completed and flying about four months after the first. The E-2Ds reflect new manufacturing techniques to build the structure that underlies the familiar Hawkeye family look.
When Northrop Grumman was awarded the system development and demonstration contract for the Advanced Hawkeye in 2003, the company chose to change its manufacturing approach. Engineers created a virtual design environment that integrated the engineering team in Bethpage with the manufacturing team in St. Augustine. They then began to re-engineer the structure, beginning with single detail parts.
In previous Hawkeye platforms, individual sheet-metal components were the basis for all structural assemblies. For the E-2D, a number of substructures were re-designed as machined components, eliminating significant numbers of detail parts and improving the production process.
“We looked at the E-2D program as the opportunity to take what we believe to be the most advanced and dependable airborne early warning and battle management aircraft in the world and not only make it more advanced, but also make it easier to build and maintain,'' said Farrell. “I believe the E-2D Hawkeye team has accomplished that.''
Lockheed Martin Naval Electronics & Surveillance Systems, Syracuse, N.Y., serves as the principal radar-system supplier and is teamed with Northrop Grumman Electronic Systems, Baltimore, and Raytheon Company's Space & Airborne Systems, El Segundo, Calif. BAE Systems, Greenlawn, N.Y., is responsible for the identification friend-or-foe system. L-3 Communications Randtron Antenna Systems, Menlo Park, Calif., is developing the ultra high-frequency electronically scanned array antenna. Northrop Grumman's Navigation Systems division, Woodland Hills, Calif., part of the company's Electronic Systems sector, will provide the new, integrated tactical cockpit for the E-2D.
Northrop Grumman Corporation is a global defense company headquartered in Los Angeles, Calif. Northrop Grumman provides a broad array of technologically advanced, innovative products, services and solutions in systems integration, defense electronics, information technology, advanced aircraft, shipbuilding, and space technology. With more than 120,000 employees and operations in all 50 states and 25 countries, Northrop Grumman serves U.S. and international military, government and commercial customers.