The US government cleared yet another high technology system for India, the “futuristic” shipboard Hawkeye E-2D aircraft for Airborne Early Warning (AEW) and battle management.
The clearance has been described by diplomatic sources as a fallout of the “successful” visit of secretary of state Hillary Clinton and the signing of the End User Monitoring Agreement (EUMA) of military equipment being supplied or sold by the US to India. Like the Boeing P 8I Maritime Multi-mission Aircraft (MMA), of which the Indian Navy has already ordered eight aircraft, the Hawkeye E-2D is the very latest and is yet to be delivered to the US Navy.
India is the second country, after the UAE, to be cleared by the US state and defence departments for sale of this sophisticated system. The US navy has sanctioned $432 million for trials of the aircraft, currently underway at the naval air station Patuxent River in Maryland. The naval systems command based there provides engineering and testing support for new naval systems and weapons.
The Hawkeye E-2D has been under the US government’s consideration for India for some time. In fact, in 2007, Pentagon sources in Washington indicated the aircraft was being cleared, but apparently the previous version, Hawkeye E-2C, was eventually offered to which the Indian navy said “no” in informal discussions.
The aircraft is being manufactured by Northrop Grumman, a leading US player in aerospace, warships, missiles, combat radars and electronic warfare systems.
Northrop Grumman’s programme manager for international business development Tom C Trudell told a magazine that the aircraft has “just been cleared by the US government for India” and that a presentation was made to the Indian navy in August in New Delhi.
Indian navy officers had witnessed the capabilities of the Hawkeye E-2C but told the US officials that as the equipment India buys would be used for years, it must be the best and the latest with future capability insertion potential.
Future aircraft carriers of the Indian navy would also have to be equipped with catapult launching systems, for which it is already looking around.