E-2D’s digital upgrade

US Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes will receive a digital upgrade to their ALQ-217 ESM system. This E-2D, BuNo 168991, is assigned to Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 (VAW-125) at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
Cpl Aaron Henson/US Marine Corps

Lockheed Martin is developing a digital upgrade of the analogue electronic surveillance measures (ESM) system installed on US Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning aircraft and plans to complete development by 2022.

The current ALQ-217 is an analogue ESM system that alerts operators to radar activity and identiies the emitter. Under a $65 million contract awarded in June, Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems is developing the digital upgrade and is scheduled to complete the engineering and manufacturing development phase — including design, qualification testing, acceptance testing and light testing by 2022, according to Max Peliian, Lockheed Martin’s programme manager for Advanced Airborne Electronic Warfare, speaking at the Association of Old Crows International Symposium on November 27, 2018. The next phase will bring the digital system to initial operational capability.

The ALQ-217 includes eight linereplaceable assemblies — antennas, antenna front ends and a receiver/ processor — ive of which will be upgraded under the contract. Lockheed Martin has delivered 28 ALQ-217 analogue sets for E-2C Hawkeye aircraft and 46 sets for the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, with 29 more on order, some of which could receive the digital upgrade on the production line if timing permits.

The company completed the Navy’s system requirements review for the digital upgrade this month. The critical design review is anticipated by the end of 2019.