Navy upgrades Pacific carrier wing with new E-2D Hawkeye
The Navy bolstered its airborne radar and detection capabilities in the Pacific with the Thursday arrival of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
VAW-125’s presence signifies a shift for the Navy as it continues relocating the bulk of Carrier Air Wing 5 — the USS Ronald Reagan’s aviation wing — from Naval Air Station Atsugi, southwest of Tokyo.
The squadron flies the new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft, the latest variant of the E-2 Hawkeye series.
The E-2D “employs long-range radar and electronic communications capabilities to oversee the battle space and detect threats beyond the sensor range of other friendly units,” said a Navy statement that described the aircraft as the “digital quarterback” of the fleet.
New features include an AN-APY9 radar capable of both mechanical and electronic sweeping. The new radar has been touted in defense journals for its potential to detect stealth aircraft.
The aircraft also includes an “all glass” tactical cockpit and an upgraded mission computer and data-link capabilities, the statement said.
Hawkeyes are the Navy’s longest-serving carrier-based aircraft.
Congress appropriated $12.5 billion last year for the first 40 E-2D models; the Pentagon is requesting another $9.5 billion for 35 more new Hawkeyes in future years, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonpartisan policy institute.
The Japan Air Self-Defense Force also plans to use the new Hawkeye to help monitor foreign aircraft approaching their airspace, including those from China and Russia.
The Defense Ministry should acquire four E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes by March 2019, a spokesman told Stars and Stripes.
Those aircraft will be used to conduct early warning and surveillance missions, including near the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, which China claims as its own, the spokesman said.
Stars and Stripes reporter Hana Kusumoto contributed to this report.