Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Northrop Grumman offers E-2D Advanced Hawkeye to Indian navy

Last month’s export authorization from the U.S. government now permits Northrop Grumman to have discussions with the Indian navy on the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, a platform that provides a highly adaptive form of airborne early warning and control (AEW&C).

A U.S Navy representative, E-2 New Business Manager John Beaulieu, last week made an eight-hour presentation to the Indian navy on the E-2D after a request for more technical clarifications following a request for information last year.

“We’ve been building up to this ... The partnership between the two governments could not be closer,” Beaulieu said. “We are here for preliminary briefings to the Indian navy for E-2D.” India is said to have requirements for six aircraft.

India has been interested in the AEW&C capability for years. “Interoperability is a very, very important aspect,” Beaulieu said.

“It’s fine to have this airborne early warning system up in the air, but if you cannot communicate with not only our own forces, but our allies around the world, it does not do us, or them, much good. If India desires to be interoperable with the U.S. Navy and NATO through datalink systems, this is the platform of choice.”

Northrop has been asked to present a shore-based version, as Indian naval aircraft would require ski-jump compatibility and not the conventional catapult-launched version. “It is a decision the Indian navy has to make,” Beaulieu noted.

Currently, shore-based operations are the way to go as India’s INS Viraat — a Cold War British aircraft carrier — is close to retirement and delivery of the Adm. Gorshkov from Russia has been delayed.

Gorshkov, however, is capable of deploying both vertical-takeoff-or-landing and catapult-launched aircraft. This has led the Indian navy to look at a redesign for its future ships.

As the U.S. Navy’s carrier-based AEW&C, officials have focused on the E-2D’s newly developed AN/APY-9 radar, which works in concert with surface combatants equipped with the Aegis combat system to detect, track and defeat cruise missile threats at extended range.

Former Indian Chief of Naval Staff Sureesh Mehta helped lead the navy in pursuit of more robust overhead surveillance capability.

India already has ordered eight P8-I long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft to replace its aging Tupolev Tu-142M maritime surveillance turboprops.

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