The U.S. Navy has decided to relocate Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 125 Tigertails from its current location in Naval Station Norfolk, Va., to Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS) Iwakuni, Japan.
Given that the unit flies the E-2D, Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5) will therefore have a squadron of Advanced Hawkeyes. At MCAS Iwakuni VAW-125, which has been the first early warning squadron to transition to the Advanced Hawkeye, will replace VAW-115 Liberty Bells, that currently operates the older E-2C.
The U.S. Navy is also scheduled to begin a phased relocation of CVW-5’s fixed-wing aircraft from Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi to MCAS Iwakuni.
It’s safe to assume that these moves, which are conducted in accordance with the service’s strategic vision for the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, are aimed to put the most advanced and capable units forward in order to support the United States’ commitment to the defense of Japan and the security and stability of the region as China grows more assertive.
The E-2D is the latest variant of the long-running E-2 Hawkeye, the Navy’s all-weather, carrier-based airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. According to Northrop Grumman, the E-2D is a game changer in how the service will conduct battle management command and control. Actually the aircraft’s suite of systems allow the Advanced Hawkeye to act as the “digital quarterback” of the fleet, collecting and distributing the tactical picture to command centers and other assets through onboard data processing subsystems. New features of the E-2D include the A/N-APY9 radar which is capable of both mechanical and electronic sweeping, an “all glass” tactical cockpit, an upgraded mission computer, and upgraded data link capabilities.
Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Anthony N. Hilkowski and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ernest R. Scott / U.S. Navy
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