The Eyes of the Fleet

An Analysis of the E-2C Aircraft Acquisition Options

by Obaid Younossi, Mark V. Arena, Michael Boito, James Dryden, Jerry M. Sollinger


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The E-2C Hawkeye is the U.S. Navy's all-weather airborne early-warning aircraft and an integral component of the Navy's carrier air wing. Although some of the fleet E-2Cs are currently being replaced with an enhanced version of the aircraft, many E-2Cs are approaching their service life limits and the Navy is concerned about the aging fleet's ability to satisfy future operational performance requirements. The Navy soon has to decide whether to buy new aircraft, retrofit old aircraft or refurbish them to extend their service lives, or adopt some combination of these options. This book analyzes the costs, benefits, and risks of those options. The authors find that none of the life-extension and retrofit options can sustain the required minimum number of available aircraft over the long run unless the Navy also buys some new E-2C aircraft, and radar-modernization retrofitting coupled with a life-extension program is so expensive that it would be more cost effective to buy new aircraft already equipped with the upgraded radar. In addition, a steady flow of E-2C work is critical to the Saint Augustine facility of Northrop Grumman Corporation, the E-2C prime contractor, and maintaining such a workflow is not feasible with a life-extension program alone.

Table of Contents

  • Chapter One


  • Chapter Two

    Description of the Current E-2C Inventory

  • Chapter Three

    Technical Analysis of the E-2C Upgrades

  • Chapter Four

    E-2C Aircraft Inventory and Scheduling Analysis

  • Chapter Five

    Cost Analysis

  • Chapter Six

    Industrial Base Considerations

  • Chapter Seven

    Conclusions and Recommendations

The research described in this report was sponsored by the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD). The research was conducted in RAND's National Defense Research Institute, a federally funded research and development center supported by the OSD, the Joint Staff, the unified commands, and the defense agencies.

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