Northrop Grumman revealed on January 6 that France has confirmed its order for three E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes, becoming the second international customer of the airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft.
Although it was announced on January 6, the French government confirmed the procurement after it signed a Letter of Offer and Acceptance (LOA) with its US counterpart on December 2, 2020. The move comes after the US State Department approved the Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of the three E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes and related equipment for an estimated cost of US$2bn in July 2020.
The signing of the LOA secures the sale of the E-2Ds, along with spares/repairs, support equipment, training, non-recurring engineering and follow-on support services. It also allows the US Navy (USN) to begin contracting activities with Northrop Grumman for the production of the E-2Ds that are destined for French service. It is anticipated that a production contract will be awarded to the company in 2022, with aircraft deliveries scheduled to take place by 2028.
Janice Zilch, vice president of Manned Airborne Surveillance Programs at Northrop Grumman, said: “The procurement of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will provide France a generational leap in capability for unparalleled situational awareness for their air defence fleets. We have a long standing relationship with France as it transitions to E-2D’s from a two-decade legacy of E-2C aircraft.”
The French Navy has operated a fleet of three Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye AEW&C aircraft since 1998 and is the only nation outside of the US to operate the platform from an aircraft carrier. The three E-2Ds that are being procured will replace France’s existing E-2C aircraft in operational service, a move which will allow the French Navy to further increase its interoperability with the USN.
Northrop Grumman states that the E-2D “delivers [an] advanced radar capability for unmatched detection and tracking” tasks. It adds that the platform provides simultaneous 360° air and maritime surveillance, which allows operators to monitor coastlines, protect sea lanes and support civilian emergency coordination operations. “The E-2D is a force multiplier for interoperability, reciprocal information sharing and commonality across the battle force,” the firm adds.