Japan Can Buy Navy E-2D Radar Plane to Quell China Tensions

Two E-2D Advanced Hawkeye radar surveillance planes

Two E-2D Advanced Hawkeye radar surveillance planes

The East China Sea has turned into a zone of confrontation. Almost daily, Chinese air force aircraft fly near the boundaries of international airspace, and Japan sends its own fighters to check them.  These alerts took place a staggering 415 times in the year 2013.  Chinese naval vessels are more active in the East China Sea and unmanned aerial vehicles have also been spotted.  Japan moved a squadron of land-based E-2C radar planes to  Naha, where they have set up patrols to give commanders a precise view of the battlespace and offer diplomats better analysis of what is really going on in the East China Sea and elsewhere.  Now Japan is considering buying new E-2Ds to extend radar surveillance to greater ranges and keep better track of cruise missiles, ships and aircraft. Read the report Pacific Security and the E-2D or a short version in Japanese here  20140602 日Japan and E-2D 関

Japan may buy up to four aircraft this year.  Contenders include the E-2D and perhaps, a 737-based airborne early warning aircraft along the lines of Australia’s Wedgetail.

The Wedgetail radar can detect aircraft out to 370 km and ships the size of a frigate at 240 km. In contrast, the
E-2D coverage is greater with aircraft detection at 555 km and frigate-size ships seen at 350km.

However, the E-2D is a perfect fit for Japan.  Converting pilots and crew from E-2Cs and E-2Ds won’t take much time.  Just as important, the E-2D is available quickly since the US Navy buying 75 new E-2Ds.  The Jacksonville, Florida production line is ramping up to full capacity and tough evaluators from Navair have had nothing but praise for the aircraft, its radar and even its software.  The first US Navy squadron goes operational in 2014.  CNO Admiral Jonathan Greenert has testified that E-2D is critical to the navy’s counter -air sensor and shooter network.  The US Navy will use E-2Ds to track ships and aircraft and as the central node of an IP-based, airborne battle network linking US and allied ships and aircraft.  The US Navy will make sure E-2Ds are well-supported and their systems keep pace with the threat.  Japan would gain tremendous life cycle performance and cost advantages by joining that pool of operators.