The Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) has taken delivery of its first of 13 Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft.
The aircraft is the first of four E-2Ds the JASDF originally had on order. Japan has operated 13 E-2C Hawkeyes since 1983, but has a requirement to replace these ageing aircraft with a more modern system that is better able to be integrated with its other maritime assets and other defensive systems.
Despite looking outwardly similar to previous E-2 models which go all the way back to 1960, the E-2D features a new AN/APY-9 mechanically and electronically scanned array radar, a new integrated tactical cockpit, advanced mission computers and tactical workstations, new electronic support measures capabilities.
It also features an advanced communications system that is able to be linked to maritime command and control networks such as the US Navy’s Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA) and Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) which Japan has been approved to acquire. Japanese E-2Ds also have the ability to be refuelled in flight, the first time any E-2 model has featured this capability, allowing the aircraft to cover remote islands and maritime areas it claims which overlap with claims by China and Russia. The US Navy has adopted the air-to-air refuelling capability for the final 30 of its planned 75 aircraft buy.
“Northrop Grumman’s long-standing partnership with Japan is beginning a new chapter with the delivery of the first Japan E-2D,” Northrop Grumman’s vice president and integrated product team leader, manned airborne surveillance programs, Jane Bishop said in a statement. “This aircraft provides a significant increase in early warning and surveillance capability to outpace Japan’s evolving security needs.”
The US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) advised Congress in September 2018 that it had approved the sale of a further nine E-2Ds to Japan to take its total to 13, and a contract for those aircraft was awarded in April as part of a larger US Navy multi-year contract for 24 aircraft.