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UAE to purchase next-generation surveillance aircraft.

Byline: E-2D is the most advanced version in the Hawkeye series and has completed operational assessment in the US

Abu Dhabi: Northrop Grumman said the UAE will be the only country authorised by the US administration to use E-2D aircraft, the next-generation version of the E-2C Hawkeye surveillance platforms.

The aircraft is "on track" to enter service in 2010 for the US Navy and the company hopes to sell the plane to the UAE, John E. Beaulieu, new business manager at the US Navy, said at the International Defence Exhibition and Conference, in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. The Hawkeye has been the Navy's primary surveillance and patrol aircraft since it was first commissioned 1973. The planes have been continually upgraded to keep pace with new technology ever since.

Beaulieu said the the US Congress had approved the UAE's acquisision of three E-2C aircraft, while the size of the E-2D order would be up to the UAE government.

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye System had completed its operational assessment (OA) at the Northrop Grumman East Coast Manufacturing and Flight Test Centre in St Augustine, Florida, he said. With the completion of OA, the flight test programme has logged more than 600 flight hours, with over half of that time involving in-flight radar testing.

"This is another significant milestone for the E-2D programme," said Tom Vice, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Eastern Region sector vice-president, "and demonstrates the commitment of the Northrop Grumman team to work together with the US Navy to deliver this state-of-the-art weapons system to the warfighter."

Utilising two test aircraft equipped with fully functioning mission systems, the OA was conducted by a US Navy test squadron to assess the potential effectiveness of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye in a mission environment, he added.

Successful completion of OA is one of the critical steps the programme must go through prior to a US Navy decision on low-rate initial production. The official written report is expected to be released by the Navy towards the end of the current year.

"Since entering flight tests in August 2007, the joint Northrop Grumman and US Navy Advanced Hawkeye team have been working hard, focusing on preparing for OA," said Jim Culmo, vice-president of Airborne Early Warning and Battle Management Command and Control Programmes for Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector.

The E-2D is capable of synthesising information from multiple onboard and off-board sensors, making complex tactical decisions and disseminating actionable information to joint forces in a distributed, open-architecture environment.


Personal interest

Shaikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, gets a first-hand account at an Idex stall yesterday.

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Publication:Gulf News (United Arab Emirates)
Date:Feb 25, 2009
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