NORFOLK, Va. — The Seahawks of Airborne Command & Control Squadron (VAW-126) successfully became the U.S. Navy’s first fleet E-2D squadron to qualify its pilots in aerial refueling this month.
It means the airplanes will be able to stay up in the air up to eight hours, double the time that earlier versions of the Hawkeye could stay aloft.
"We're super proud," said Commanding Officer CDR Marc Foreman. "Our folks have worked real hard over the last six weeks. It's the culmination of efforts over the last several years of work."
LT Nicholas Dewispelaere, a pilot in the squadron, is excited about the advancement.
"For combatant commanders, they love when we're airborne, and without having the need to come back and land due to low fuel is amazing and is definitely a game-changer," he said.
After completing 81 simulator and aircraft training events, the Seahawks qualified their first two pilots on a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender aircraft from the 32nd Aerial Refueling Squadron based at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, achieving 33 total plugs and receiving 12,000 pounds of fuel.
Since August 14, the squadron has successfully trained more than 10 pilots on aerial refueling with a U.S. Air Force KC-10 Extender and Omega 707.
Aerial refueling is a significant air-frame modification that is redefining the E-2D community’s impact in the carrier environment and war-fighting battlespace. It enables crews to increase mission persistence, cover longer distances in less time, and maximize operational flexibility.
VAW-126 last deployed aboard the USS Harry S. Truman to the Fifth Fleet area of operations.