A squadron composed of five U.S. Navy E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft landed at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, to join the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Group.
Relieving the “Liberty Bells” of VAW-115 as the early-warning squadron of the U.S. Navy’s Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, the “Tigertails” of VAW-125 landed in Japan on February 2.
The move is in accordance with the Navy’s strategic vision for the rebalance to the Asia-Pacific, a plan to put the most advanced and capable units forward in order to support the United States’ commitment to the defense of Japan.
VAW-125’s arrival also brings enhanced capabilities to the region, as the squadron’s five E-2D Advanced Hawkeye aircraft provide substantial upgrades over the E-2C Hawkeye platform.
“We are excited to join the Forward Deployed Naval Forces at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni in the amazing city of Iwakuni,” said Cmdr. Daniel Prochazka, VAW-125’s commanding officer. “I would like to thank the city for its hospitality and for warmly welcoming us to this incredible place. This is my second time in the Forward Deployed Naval Forces. My fond memories make me personally very thrilled to be back.”
VAW-125 is the U.S. Navy’s first operational fleet squadron to utilize the E-2D. “VAW-125 is the first and most experienced E-2D squadron in the US Navy,” Prochazka said. “This aircraft has the most advanced airborne radar in the world, and the people who fix and fly it are the best in the U.S. Navy.”
Among the improvements in the E-2D are an all-new electronics suite, enhanced turboprop engines, modernized communications, and upgrade potential for mid-air refueling capabilities. The U.S. Navy first took delivery of the E2-D in July of 2010 and began a phased replacement of the venerable E-2C aircraft, which has served the fleet since 1973.
The first variant of E-2 series entered service in 1964, making the Hawkeye the Navy’s longest serving carrier-based aircraft.