First to receive the operational aircraft is the Navy’s Airborne Early Warning Squadron 125 at Naval Station Norfolk Chambers Field this week.
"This is a revolutionary jump in capabilities," said Capt. Todd Watkins, commander, Airborne Command Control and Logistics Wing. "The E-2D serves as the eyes of the fleet. If it's out there, we will see it."
The E-2D is the most technologically capable variant of the venerable E-2 airborne early warning command and control platform. It features state-of-the-art radar with a two-generation leap in capability and other upgraded systems which make it a multi-mission platform that can coordinate concurrent missions -- including airborne strike, rescue and ground force support -- which may arise during a single flight.
The Navy expects to acquire more than 70 of the planes through 2020.
The E-2D can fly at a speed of more than 300 knots and a ceiling of 37,000 feet.