by William Alibrandi, Forecast International
The engine that powered thousands of C-130s is now flying on the U.S. Navy’s AEW Hawkeye. The U.S. Navy’s current procurement plan calls for the acquisition of five aircraft in each of FY14 and FY15, six in FY16, and then eight aircraft per year starting in FY17. The forecast reflects this plan and assumes the Navy will keep it in place over the next decade, but it is possible that the Navy will not ramp up production in FY17. The defense budget is currently under stress, and the Navy may need to stretch out procurement longer than planned. Keeping annual procurement at five to six aircraft would push final deliveries to 2024, rather than the currently forecast 2023. The forecast is based on the Navy’s current requirement for 75 aircraft. The total number of aircraft the Navy plans to acquire has fluctuated slightly in recent years, but it will remain in the area of 70-75 aircraft (including two test aircraft), as the Hawkeye is safe from termination.
Limited Export Potential
Exports of the E-2D will be limited, because the pool of potential buyers is small. Current operators of the E-2C may order the E-2D at some point during the next decade, but none have given a clear indication of when they would begin replacing their E-2Cs.
Series 3.5 Upgrade
Rolls-Royce has developed an engine upgrade for the operators of older C-130s that offers a 9.7 percent improvement in fuel economy, plus 22 percent greater reliability and 9.4 percent greater range. The upgrade can be done during routine overhaul and includes new compressor and turbine blades, new turbine vanes and seals, and a new compressor air inlet housing.