Iwakuni, February 6: Japan silently emerged as one of the most powerful countries of the world in recent time. But now it has become more powerful after getting the five U.S Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes with Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 (VAW-125). Notably, VAW-125 has already arrived at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan on Thursday.
The VAW-125’s presence signifies a shift for the Navy as it continues relocating the bulk of Carrier Air Wing 5, the USS Ronald Reagan’s aviation wing from Naval Air Station Atsugi, southwest of Tokyo.
The Japan Air Self-Defence Force plans to use the new Hawkeye to monitor foreign aircraft approaching their airspace, including those from China and Russia. These aircraft will be used to conduct early warning and surveillance missions, including near the Japan-administered Senkaku Islands, which China claims as its own.
The new E-2D Advanced Hawkeye early warning and control aircraft is the latest variant of the E-2 Hawkeye series. The E-2D employs long-range radar and electronic communications capabilities to oversee the battle space and detect threats beyond the sensor range of other friendly units. New features include an AN-APY9 radar capable of both mechanical and electronic sweeping. The aircraft also includes an “all glass” tactical cockpit and an upgraded mission computer and data-link capabilities etc.
"We are excited to join the forward-deployed naval forces at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in the amazing city of Iwakuni," said Cmdr. Daniel Prochazka, VAW-125's commanding officer. "I would like to thank the city for its hospitality and for warmly welcoming us to this incredible place. This is my second time in the forward-deployed naval forces. My fond memories make me personally very thrilled to be back."
VAW-125's arrival also brings enhanced capabilities to the region, as the squadron's five E2-D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft provide substantial upgrades over the E2-C Hawkeye platform. VAW-125 is the U.S. Navy's first operational fleet squadron to utilize the E2-D. "VAW-125 is the first and most experienced E-2D squadron in the U.S. Navy," Prochazka said. "This aircraft has the most advanced airborne radar in the world, and the people who fix and fly it are the best in the U.S. Navy," Prochazka added.
Hawkeyes are the U.S Navy’s longest-serving carrier-based aircraft. Congress appropriated $12.5 billion last year for the first 40 E-2D models; the Pentagon is requesting another $9.5 billion for 35 more new Hawkeyes in future years, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonpartisan policy institute. Interestingly, the U.S. Navy first took delivery of the E2-D July 2010 and began a phased replacement of the venerable E2-C aircraft which has served the fleet since 1973.