Led by the French Defense Procurement Agency (DGA), this procurement will be carried out under a Foreign Military Sales (FMS) agreement with the U.S. government. For the record, the United States’ State Department approved this FMS in July this year.
The three Advanced Hawkeye are set to be delivered by 2030. They will replace the existing E-2C Hawkeye of the French Navy (Marine Nationale).
According to the French Armed Forces statement, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye designed by Northrop-Grumman, represents a generational leap forward compared to the E-2C Hawkeye. Its active electronically scanned array (AESA), cockpit and data links are notably improved, and it can also be refuelled in flight. The three E-2D aircraft ordered for the French Navy will be adapted to French requirements by integrating a specific computer, developed by the French Aerospace Industry Service (SIAé), which will guarantee the system’s autonomous upgrade capability.
Like the E-2C Hawkeye currently in service with the French Navy and implemented by the Flottille 4F squadron, the three E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft will be stationed at the Lann-Bihoué (Brittany) naval air base and deployed on the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier, and eventually on its successor.
French Ministry of Armed Forces statement
The statement added that AEW&C aircraft guarantee the safety of the carrier strike group, to which they provide a unique capability for remote detection and identification of threats, command and control of air assets for air-sea operations, and power projection at sea and to land from the aircraft carrier. “They are a key factor in the interoperability of our armed forces with U.S. and NATO forces”.
The French Navy becomes the second export customer of the Advanced Hawkeye. The first one is the JASDF who operates them from land bases. As it was the case with the E-2C, France will be the only non-US Advanced Hawkeye operator to deploy them aboard aircraft carrier(s).
About E-2D Advanced Hawkeye
Built by Northrop Grumman, the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is the latest variant of the E-2 Airborne early warning aircraft, replacing the E-2C Hawkeye. It brings revolutionary capabilities to the carrier strike group, including the new and powerful AN/APY-9 radar, which is a two-generational leap in technology.
The APY-9 radar is an Ultra High Frequency (UHF) surveillance system that provides both mechanical and electronic scanning capabilities designed to “see” smaller targets – and more of them – at a greater range, particularly in coastal regions and over land.
The U.S. Navy has awarded a multi-year procurement contract to Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. for the purchase of 24 E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft in full rate production for fiscal years 2019-2023. This is the second MYP contract awarded to NGSC. The Navy awarded the first in 2014 for the production of 25 E-2D aircraft. The U.S. congress later increased the number to 26 aircraft bringing the total number of E-2Ds on order for the U.S. Navy to 50 aircraft.
On the export side, Japan has 13 E-2D on order while France is procuring three new Advanced Hawkeyes to replace the in service E-2C Hawkeyes.