French Navy Tests E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Aboard Charles de Gaulle Aircraft Carrier

An E-2C Hawkeye is launched from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle.

A U.S. Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft is set to conduct interactions with the French carrier strike group (CSG) and French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle. This will mark the first time the E-2D is recovered and launched from the French carrier.

Naval News reported that the French Navy aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle and its strike group (CSG) set sails last week for the “Mission Clemenceau 22” deployment. The French CSG will conduct “tri carrier operations” with the Italian Navy (Marina Militare)’s Cavour CSG and the U.S. Navy’s Truman CSG.

According to our French Navy source, the carrier operations between the French and Americans will take place in the Eastern Mediterranean in February/March and will test Combined sea control, Combined power projection and C4I (command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence) data sharing.

All this is in line with the Strategic Interoperability Framework which was recently inked by the US and French navies. Naval News was explained that a particular focus will be placed on the data and information sharing because the U.S. Navy uses some very stringent encryption systems and both navies will make sure that such encrypted data can be read and accessed by the French.

In addition, the maneuvers should see the launch and recovery of French Navy aircraft aboard USS Harry S. Truman and the launch and recovery of U.S. Navy aircraft aboard Charles de Gaulle. In particular, E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft will trap and be launched for the first time from the French Navy aircraft carrier and will be tested with the French CSG (including possibly the sharing of tactical data between the aircraft and the French staff aboard the carrier). E-2Ds from the “Seahawks” of Airborne Command and Control Squadron (VAW) 126 are currently deployed aboard the Truman.

For the record, the French Ministry of Armed Forces announced one year ago that it had approved the acquisition of three E-2D Advanced Hawkeye Airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft. The contract was officially awarded in December 2021.

The French program director confirmed that the delivery of the three aircraft is set for 2028. They will become operation in 2030 following some localization work (which consists mostly in the integration of a specific computer which will guarantee the system’s autonomous upgrade capability).

To date, 51 aircraft have been delivered to the U.S. Navy and 3 to Japan. Naval News understands that the E-2D production line (located in St Augustine, Florida) shutdown will start in 2023 and final U.S. Navy E-2Ds will roll off the production line in 2026.

With the above information in mind, it would seem logical that the French aircraft come in the latest available standard, known as DSSC 4, 5 or 6. DSSC stands for “Delta System/Software Configuration Build”. However DSSC 4, 5 and 6 have mostly to do with Cooperative Engagement Capability (CEC) and Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air (NIFC-CA), two features that the French Navy will not be using. The French are developing their own CEC equivalent known as “veille cooperative navale” which we covered in the past. As about which DSSC the French Navy will be getting, PMA-231 said this question would be best answered by the French Ministry of Defense

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