02 Nov 2017

First in-flight fuel transfer success for E-2D Advanced Hawkeye

The first E-2D to come equipped with aerial refuelling capabilities has received a successful in-flight fuel transfer from a tanker aircraft as part of Northrop Grumman’s Advanced Hawkeye program.

The pilots performed ten “dry plugs” and two “wet plugs” during the four hour test flight, with more than 1,700 pounds of fuel transferred to the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye via a U.S. Navy KC-130 Hercules.

The modified E-2D made its first flight in December of last year at Northrop Grumman’s Saint Augustine facility. The aircraft has since been transferred to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 (VX-20) at Naval Air Station Patuxent River in Maryland, where it will complete the aerial refuelling test program.

Two additional aircraft are part of the aerial refuelling test program, and as the first made its fuel transfer flight, the third took to the skies at Saint Augustine. Having two E-2Ds equipped with aerial refuelling in flight at the same time marked a significant first for Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Navy’s Hawkeye community.

The Advanced Hawkeye modification contains several sub-system upgrades to accommodate refuelling capabilities including fuel probe plumbing, formation lighting and long-endurance seats, in addition to flight control software and hardware changes.

”Passing fuel for the first time airborne is a significant milestone in the development of this critical technology for the E-2D, which increases the range and persistence of command and control the E-2D provides to U.S. and allied forces,” said Captain Keith Hash, E-2/C-2 Airborne Tactical Data Systems (PMA-231) Program Manager.

“Developing aerial refuelling capability for the E-2D is another demonstration of Northrop Grumman’s unwavering commitment to provide our Navy customer with increased operational capability,” added Jane Bishop, Vice President and Program Manager of the E-2/C-2 initiative at Northrop Grumman.

The U.S. Navy awarded Northrop Grumman the aerial refuelling contract in 2013. It will give the U.S. Navy greater flexibility, allowing them to conduct missions of more than seven hours.

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Image courtesy of U.S. Navy

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