Looking to improve Greece's capability to detect air targets and simultaneously strengthen its command, control, communications, computers and intelligence (C4I), the Hellenic air force (HAF) descended upon Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division recently for a thorough evaluation of the E-2C Hawkeye aircraft.
The four-day event included lectures on currently fleeted Group II/JTIDS E-2C aircraft, the mission computer upgrade (MCU) program and three demonstration flights.
Although smaller than the Air Force's E-3 Airborne Warning and Controlling System, the E-2C Hawkeye is much more affordable and pound for pound more capable. An impressive airborne early warning (AEW) weapon system, including the APS-145 radar, improved interrogation friend or foe system, passive detection system (PDS), three distinct tactical data links (Link-4A, Link-11 and Link-16), eight-radio communication suite, including satellite communications, and upgraded navigational systems with global positioning systems and dual inertial navigation, make the E-2C a logical choice for Greek AEW needs. Moreover, with the new mission computer scheduled for operational evaluation next year, the E-2C growth potential for employment of advanced processing systems like Cooperative Engagement Capability, voice command interface and other future systems remains unlimited.
Cmdr. Andy Mohler, PMA-231L, and Jim Poduszlo, E-2C Integrated Product Team, presented opening event lectures with Lt. Tom Popp, MCU project officer and test naval flight officer and Lt. Mark Stoops, Prop 2000 project officer and test pilot, detailing the week's flight events. Led by HAF Brig. Gen. Panagiotis Karabelas, the 14-member HAF team was extremely interested in the E-2C's capability for overland detection of low flying aircraft, the most likely threat facing Greece. The demonstration flights largely emphasized radar detection of low-flying aircraft and overland targets. Two HAF aircrew members flew as part of the five-person E-2C aircrew for each flight.
The first flight focused on radar detection and tracking of two sections of F-16C aircraft and Air Intercept Control (AIC) with two F/A-18 aircraft from Naval Strike Aircraft Test Squadron (NSATS). Six head-to-head intercept missions, Link-11 and Link-16 data transfer operations, PDS, and the effects of a ground based interference source against the APS-145 radar were demonstrated. The event concluded with an impressive hot refueling demonstration prior to taxiing back to the Naval Force Warfare Aircraft Test Squadron line.
A second flight, emphasizing medium altitude overland tracking and slow, low flying aircraft detection and tracking, included assets from NSATS and Rotary Wing Aircraft Test Squadron. Like the first flight, PDS, data link transfer and the effects of a ground based jammer against the radar were also demonstrated. The third flight was dedicated to aircraft flying qualities and pattern work. Demonstrations of level accelerations, flat turns, single engine landings, configuration changes and approaches were conducted.
Overall, the HAF were most impressed with the integration of the E-2C complex weapon system, controlled by just three weapon system operators. Configured for optimal radar detection and tracking of various threats in diverse environments, the E-2C systems demonstrated will prove to be of vital importance for a nation defending land and sea borders, including the densely, island-populated Aegean Sea.
The HAF were also pleased with the easily-operated tactical data links and intuitive communication suite that facilitated rapid dissemination of C4I information. Finally, although the HAF were satisfied with the minimal time required to refuel the aircraft for another five-plus hour AEW mission, the HAF still asked the question most dreaded by US Navy E-2C aircrew: Will the E-2C Hawkeye be capable of air-to-air refueling? Yes.
(Submitted by Lt. Tom Popp)
Last updated: 9.11.98