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That was the week that was...

Carrier landing? No, it's HMS WaddingtonFlying saucers?...a week of non-stop action, sunshine (well, for two days) and a crowd of enthusiasts not seen for many-a-year. JOTM 2000 and regular ACMI traffic gave RAF Waddington a welcome burst of activity in the middle week of October, with the 17th and 19th providing gloriously sunny weather, somewhat compensating for the atrocious summer that was this millennium year. Although not any busier than Exercise Nomad had been in mid-June, the weather was much better, which added to the occasion and atmosphere. So, just sit back and imagine the jetwash, the smell of kerosene and scorched tyres, and look forward to the WAVE being as packed sometime in the not-too-distant future...

France's new HawkeyeClick

Built by Grumman, the first prototype flew on 21 October 1961. The first version, the E2A, was equipped with the GE APS-96 radar, with the later E2B being upgraded with the Litton L-304 computer. The French version, the E2C, is equipped with the GE APS-125 radar, and is powered by two Allison T56-A-427 turboprops. The radar is able to maintain more than 2,000 tracks simultaneously (ships, missiles, aircraft), and can monitor 6 million cubic miles of airspace and more than 150, 000 square miles of ocean surface at a range of about 300 miles. French Hawkeyes also have a GPS (Global Position System), an IFF (Identification Friend or Foe), a new CEC (Co-operative Engagement Centre) computer and a JTIDS system. Link 16 is also integrated in order to communicate with carriers, destroyers, frigates, allied aircraft and helicopters. With an endurance of over six hours unrefuelled, the E2C is able to loiter in an area co-ordinating several missions.

The crew comprises two pilots, a radar operator, an air control officer and a combat information centre officer. The French Navy has acquired three E2C Hawkeyes to equip the CVN Charles de Gaulle and to replace its Br 1050 Alizés. It originally ordered four aircraft but, because of cutbacks, the order was reduced to three aircraft, the first being delivered on 18 December 1998. The aircraft operates from the CVN Charles de Gaulle and NAS Lann-Bihoué under the colours of the 4F squadron. The main missions of the aircraft are to guide Rafale Ms to intercept other aircraft and manage ground strikes carried out by the Rafales and Super-Etendards. The E2C at Waddington, 165455, was the second delivered (on 23 April 1999). The final aircraft is expected in 2003 and will be the first to Hawkeye 2000 standard, the first two being upgraded later. This version is equipped with a MCU (Mission Computer Upgrade) providing a smaller, lighter, more powerful mission computer that allows for further enhancements such as the Co-operative Engagement Centre (CEC) upgrade. CEC will enable the Hawkeye to serve as the fleet's information hub, fusing and distributing information from sources such as satellite and ship borne radar. Each aircraft costs in the region of $50,000,000.

Other E2C operators are Egypt (four), Israel (four), Japan (eight), Singapore (four) and the USA (140).

 

One of six Italian F3s present, MM7205 10 Wing's F16s didn't play in JOTM
Rare visitor to these shores, French E3F (but not as rare as the Hawkeye) Schizophrenic GR7, actually with SAOEU
11 Squadron F3s played adversary to the Italians ZH103, one of the 'home' team
C130Js visited during JOTM, but dunno whyFrench Tiger unit, EC 01.012 were at Waddington for the first of several French deployments in the next few weeks NATO E3A LX-N90452 taxies out on Thursday 19 October for another mission

Just a few of the hundreds lining the fence...were you there? (Picture courtesy of Tom McGhee)

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