First Advanced Hawkeye upgraded with aerial refueling capability joins fleet

The first E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning aircraft upgraded with the capability to conduct aerial refueling has joined the US Navy fleet.

The aerial-refueling-capable E-2D landed at Naval Station Norfolk Sept. 9, joining the “Greyhawks” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 120.

“This is an important day for naval aviation as we continue to increase our capabilities and maintain our competitive edge in the skies,” said Rear Adm. Roy Kelley, commander of Naval Air Force Atlantic, “This capability will extend the endurance of Hawkeyes, increasing the Navy’s battlespace awareness and integrated fire control – both from the air and the sea.”

VAW-120 is only the first step in rolling out this new capability. VAW-120 is a Fleet Replacement Squadron attached to Airborne Command & Control and Logistics Wing commanded by Capt. Matthew Duffy.

The Navy will transition two operational fleet squadrons to aerial refueling capable E-2Ds by 2020.

The upgraded E-2Ds will be able to remain airborne to the limits of the aircrew and airframe endurance. The aircraft will also feature new high endurance seats, fuel system enhancements, and new exterior lighting.

“Aerial refueling capability is a game-changer for the E-2D community and future operations in the high-end fight,” said Cmdr. Scott Wastak, VAW-120 commanding officer. “We will now begin to train instructor pilots and refuel with several different Navy and Air Force tanker aircraft, including F/A-18s.”

Photo: An E-2D Hawkeye prepares to land and be recieved by the Greyhawks of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 120 on Monday, September 9 at Naval Station Norfolk. Photo: US Navy