Northrop Grumman prepares to build five E-2D radar surveillance aircraft and avionics for Japan military

Oct. 25, 2023
The Northrop Grumman E-2D is a tactical airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft designed to operate from aircraft carriers or from land bases.

PATUXENT RIVER NAS, Md. – U.S. Navy airborne reconnaissance experts are preparing to order five new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye carrier-based airborne early warning aircraft for Japan under terms of a $150 million deal announced in late September.

Officials of the Naval Air Systems Command at Patuxent River Naval Air Station, Md., are asking the Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems segment in Melbourne, Fla., to provide long-lead parts for full-rate production of five E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft.

Long-lead items either are difficult or time-consuming to obtain, and are funded early in the aircraft design process to keep overall production on schedule. Contracts to build the two E-2D aircraft will come later.

The Northrop Grumman E-2D is a tactical airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft designed to operate from aircraft carriers or from land bases. The twin-engine turboprop aircraft has a distinctive saucer-like antenna, and provides the carrier battle group with wide-area radar surveillance for enemy monitoring and combat air traffic control.

Related: Northrop Grumman to provide major upgrades of cockpit avionics and mission computers for Navy E-2C aircraft

Its large saucer-like radar antenna mounted to the top of the aircraft enables it to detect hostile aircraft and missiles at extremely long ranges and vector Navy aircraft to intercept.

Northrop Grumman officials call the E-2D reconnaissance aircraft a "digital quarterback" to sweep ahead of Navy aircraft carrier strike groups, manage missions, and keep U.S. network-centric carrier battle groups out of harm's way. The aircraft provides battle management, theater air and missile defense, and multi-sensor fusion capabilities.

Compared with its E-2C predecessor, the E-2D has a new radar with mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities; glass cockpit avionics; advanced identification friend or foe (IFF) system; new mission computer and tactical workstations; electronic support measures enhancements; an d modernized communications and data link suite, Northrop Grumman officials say.

The plane is nearly 58 feet long, has an 80-foot wingspan, can fly faster than 300 knots, and can fly to altitudes as high as 37.000 feet. It carriers a crew of five: two pilots and three mission systems operators. The co-pilot also can act as a fourth mission systems operator.

Related: Lockheed Martin to upgrade the electronic warfare and SIGINT avionics in Navy E-2D surveillance aircraft

The E-2D first flew in 2007. The U.S. Navy will procure 73 of these aircraft by 2022. Historically Northrop Grumman has managed the E-2 program from its facility in Bethpage, N.Y., but the company will assemble the aircraft in Melbourne, Fla. The company no longer builds aircraft at its Bethpage facility.

On this order Northrop Grumman will do the work in Syracuse, Greenlawn, Owego, and Edgewood, N.Y.; Rolling Meadows, Ill.; Woodland Hills and Menlo Park, Calif.; Aire-sur-l'Adour, France; Melbourne, Fla.; Marlboro, Mass.; and other U.S. locations, and should be finished by February 2029.

For more information contact Northrop Grumman Aeronautics Systems online at, Naval Air Systems Command at; or the Japan Air Self Defense Force at

About the Author

John Keller | Editor-in-Chief

John Keller is the Editor-in-Chief, Military & Aerospace Electronics Magazine--provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronics and optoelectronic technologies in military, space and commercial aviation applications. John has been a member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since 1989 and chief editor since 1995.

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