US approves French E-2D acquisition

The US State Department has approved the possible Foreign Military Sale (FMS) of three Northrop Grumman E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft and associated equipment to France.

Approval of the potential deal – worth US$2bn – was announced in a media release from the US Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) on July 6, after it had notified the US Congress.

According to the DSCA, “the proposed sale will improve France’s capability to meet current and future threats by providing its naval air forces with a sustainable follow on capability to their current, legacy E-2C Hawkeye aircraft.”

E-2D Advanced Hawkeye [US Navy]
A pair of US Navy-operated E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes conduct a test flight near St Augustine, Florida, in September 2009. US Navy

France has requested to purchase three examples of the latest version of the Hawkeye family – the E-2D. The deal also includes ten Allison T-56-427A turboprop engines (six installed and four spares), along with three Lockheed Martin AN/APY-9 radars, which provide 360° surveillance in both mechanical and electronic scanning modes.

Also included in the potential sale are five Link-16 communications systems, four of BAE Systems’ AN/APX-122(A) and AN/APX-123(A) identification friend or foe (IFF) kits and a single Joint Mission Planning System. The deal also includes spares/repairs, air/ground support equipment and training.

“The E-2D aircraft will continue and expand French naval aviation capabilities and maintain interoperability with US naval forces. As a current E-2C operator, France will have no difficulty absorbing this equipment and support into its armed forces,” the DSCA added.

As part of the proposed sale, work on the French E-2Ds will take place at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems’ facility in Melbourne, Florida.

France’s employment of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye will make it the third operator of the type, following the US and Japan. AirForces Intelligence data shows that, as of July 9, the US Navy operates 36 examples and the Japan Air Self-Defense Force employs three aircraft.