Taiwan Air Force considers buying 6 additional E-2D Hawkeye early warning aircraft

The Air Force is considering purchasing six E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes (AHE) early warning aircraft — but the high price has cast doubts on whether it will do so.

To meet the defensive needs of the Air Force, additional AHEs would be extremely beneficial, Liberty Times reported. However, a single aircraft could cost as much as $400 million. Such a costly figure would also pit the three military branches against one another to secure their respective budgets.

The E-2D AHE is an early warning aircraft with fifth-generation early warning and combat control capabilities, per Liberty Times. It is equipped with an active electronic scanning array radar, which allows it to detect targets beyond the range of Taiwan’s current fleet of E-2C Hawkeye 2000s.

It can also detect aircraft with a low-radar cross-section like China’s J-20 Chengdu stealth fighters. In addition, the AHE can also provide target acquisition data for Taiwan’s medium and long-range anti-ship missiles.

China’s J-20 stealth jets will soon have nowhere to hide as Taiwan is upgrading its six E-2K Hawkeye early warning aircraft to E-2D level, reports said Friday.

The Ministry of National Defense is spending NT$1.51 billion (US$51.4 million) on the project to have the United States modernize the planes’ radar systems to make them as sophisticated as those in use on the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye based on U.S. aircraft carriers, according to a report in the Liberty Times.

One of the major new functionalities will be to allow the radar to capture all flying objects within a radius of 550 kilometers and vessels within a radius of 350 km. Even the most advanced Chinese stealth jets like the J-20 and the J-31 will not escape its eye.

Military officials on November 12 pointed out that although the national defense budget has grown slightly every year, the expenditures for naval and air combat development have increased. The government will have to make a detailed assessment on whether the aircraft can be included in the annual budget following the Air Force’s plan.

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