Northrop Grumman has announced that it delivered the first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft to the Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) on 29 March.
The US company said in a statement that the platform, which was procured under a contract signed in 2015, "provides a significant increase in early warning and surveillance capability to outpace Japan's evolving security needs".
Japan has signed contracts for three additional E-2Ds, and in late 2018 Northrop Grumman announced that it had been contracted to begin work on nine additional E-2Ds for the JASDF. The company received a USD32.73 million award on 16 November from the US Department of Defense (DoD) for long-lead acquisitions related to the production of the fifth aircraft for Japan.
The three other E-2Ds under contract are expected to be delivered between the end of 2019 and the end of 2020, while the fifth aircraft will follow before the end of 2022.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense initially selected the E-2D in 2014 to serve alongside the service's ageing E-2C Hawkeye AEW aircraft, as well as the four Boeing E-767 Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) platforms in service with the JASDF.
Once operational, the E-2Ds will augment the Japan's 13 E-2Cs ahead of the latter being eventually retired. Japan has operated the E-2C since 1983 and is the largest E-2 operator outside the US. The E-2Cs underwent an upgrade to Hawkeye 2000 standard at the end of the last decade and are expected to approach the end of their service lives in the coming years, according to Jane's Defence Procurement .
To date Japan has spent approximately USD1 billion on its E-2D procurement programme, including non-recurring engineering and infrastructure.
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