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First fleet aerial refueling certification between an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and F/A-18F Super Hornet


The “Greyhawks” of Airborne Command & Control Squadron (VAW) 120 successfully conducted the first fleet aerial refueling dry-plug certification between an E-2D Advanced Hawkeye and an F/A-18F Super Hornet - from Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 211, May 11, 2020. Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 120 (VAW-120) nicknamed Greyhawks is a United States Navy Fleet Replacement Squadron responsible for training crews on the E-2 Hawkeye and the C-2 Greyhound.
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First fleet aerial refueling certification between an E 2D Advanced Hawkeye and FA 18F Super Hornet 925 001 U.S. Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye (Picture source U.S. Navy)


VFA-211 aircraft from Carrier Air Wing One (CVW-1) embarked aboard the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) participated in this refueling evolution, three years in the making.

VAW-120, part of Airborne Command & Control and Logistics Wing, has been tasked with initial qualification of aerial refueling for the E-2D fleet and is currently developing the techniques and procedures to train pilots in the new skill set.

In September 2019, VAW-120 took delivery of the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye with an aerial refueling capability that allowed for the achievement of this initial operational capability. VAW-120 marked a second milestone in the E-2D legacy in April 2020, by achieving its 1,000th Aerial Refueling contact for the squadron.

Lt. Michael Harrigan and Lt. David Carroll represent the first two fully qualified E-2D Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) instructors qualified in aerial refueling. Harrigan and Carroll completed 39 refueling evolutions with both VFA-211 and VFA-81.

The Aerial Refueling modified E-2D Advanced Hawkeye is another key component to the Carrier Air Wing of the future. Currently, the squadron’s E-2D AR instructor pilot cadre are increasing proficiency and experience in preparation for training and transitioning the first fleet squadron later this summer.

VAW-120, the Norfolk-based FRS for both the E-2 Hawkeye and C-2 Greyhound, is part of Airborne Command & Control and Logistics Wing and is tasked with providing aerial refueling initial qualifications for the operational E-2D fleet.

The E-2 Hawkeye is an American all-weather, carrier-capable tactical airborne early warning (AEW) aircraft designed and produced by Northrop Grumman. The latest E-2 version is the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye, which features an entirely new avionics suite including the new AN/APY-9 radar, radio suite, mission computer, integrated satellite communications, flight management system, improved T56-A-427A engines, a glass cockpit and later changes should enable aerial refueling by 2020.

F/A-18F Super Hornet are twin-engine, carrier-capable, multirole fighter aircraft variants based on the McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 Hornet. The Super Hornet has an internal 20 mm M61 rotary cannon and can carry air-to-air missiles and air-to-surface weapons. Additional fuel can be carried in up to five external fuel tanks and the aircraft can be configured as an airborne tanker by adding an external air refueling system.