E-2D completes first aerial refuel
Northrop Grumman’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeye has completed its first aerial refuelling, the company announced on 31 October.
The aircraft received its first in-flight fuel transfer from a tanker aircraft on 14 July. During the four-hour flight, ten dry plugs and two wet plugs were performed, resulting in the successful transfer of over 1,700lbs of fuel from a US Navy KC-130 Hercules.
The aerial refuelling-equipped E-2D made its first flight in December 2016 at the company’s St. Augustine facility. The aircraft was then transferred to Air Test and Evaluation Squadron 20 at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Maryland, where the aircraft will complete the aerial refuelling test programme.
All newly built E-2Ds will receive the aerial refuelling system modifications starting in 2018. Older aircraft already serving in the fleet will also be retrofitted with the system.
The modification contains several sub-system upgrades to accommodate the refuelling capability including adding the fuel probe plumbing, formation lighting, long-endurance seats, as well as flight control software and hardware changes.
The aerial refuelling capability will give the US Navy the flexibility to conduct missions of more than seven hours.
IOC for the new system is set for 2020.
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