Grumman C-2 Greyhound

C-2 Greyhound
C-2A NP-2000 VRC-40 in flight 2009 (modified).jpg
A U.S. Navy C-2A Greyhound of fleet logistics support squadron VRC-40 Rawhides
RoleCarrier-capable transport / Carrier onboard delivery
National originUnited States
ManufacturerGrumman
Northrop Grumman
First flight18 November 1964
Introduction1966
StatusC-2A: Retired
C-2A(R): In service
Primary userUnited States Navy
ProducedC-2A: 1965-1968
C-2A(R): 1985-1989
Number builtC-2A: 17
C-2A(R): 39
Unit cost
US$40.01 million in 2016[1]
Developed fromNorthrop Grumman E-2 Hawkeye

The Grumman C-2 Greyhound is a twin-engine, high-wing cargo aircraft, designed to carry supplies, mail, and passengers to and from aircraft carriers of the United States Navy. Its primary mission is carrier onboard delivery (COD). The aircraft provides critical logistics support to carrier strike groups. The aircraft is mainly used to transport high-priority cargo, mail, and passengers between carriers and shore bases, and can also deliver cargo like jet engines and special stores.

Prototype C-2s first flew in 1964, and production followed the next year. The initial Greyhound aircraft were overhauled in 1973. In 1984, more C-2As were ordered under designation Reprocured C-2A or C-2A(R). In 2010 all C-2A(R) aircraft received updated propellers (from four to eight blades) and navigational updates (glass cockpit).

Design and development

Origins

The C-2 Greyhound, a derivative of the E-2 Hawkeye, shares wings and power plants with the E-2, but has a widened fuselage with a rear loading ramp. The first of two prototypes flew in 1964. After successful testing, Grumman began production of the aircraft in 1965. The C-2 replaced the piston-engined Grumman C-1 Trader in the COD role. The original C-2A aircraft were overhauled to extend their operational life in 1973.[2]

Powered by two Allison T56 turboprop engines, the C-2A can deliver up to 10,000 pounds (4,500 kg) of cargo, passengers or both. It can also carry litter patients in medical evacuation missions. A cage system or transport stand restrains cargo during carrier launch and landing. The large aft cargo ramp and door and a powered winch allow straight-in rear cargo loading and unloading for fast turnaround. The Greyhound's ability to airdrop supplies and personnel, fold its wings, and generate power for engine starting and other uses provide an operational versatility found in no other cargo aircraft.

A C-2A taxis prior to takeoff on a flight to USS John F. Kennedy in Feb 1984. This was the first Greyhound delivered in 1966

The C-2 has four vertical stabilizers, of which three are fitted with rudders. A single vertical stabilizer large enough for adequate directional control would have made the aircraft too tall to fit on an aircraft carrier hangar deck. The four-stabilizer configuration has the advantage of placing the outboard rudder surfaces directly in line with the propeller wash, providing effective yaw control down to low airspeeds, such as during takeoff and landing. The inner-left stabilizer lacks a rudder, and has been called the "executive tail", as it has nothing to do compared to the other three.[3] A single C-2 (2797) was equipped with an air-to-air refueling probe but this was not installed in other aircraft.[4][5]

In 1984, the Navy ordered 39 new C-2A aircraft to replace older airframes. Dubbed the Reprocured C-2A or C-2A(R) due to the similarity to the original, the new aircraft has airframe improvements and better avionics. The older C-2As were phased out in 1987, and the last of the new models was delivered in 1990.

Upgrades

The 36 C-2A(R)s underwent a critical Service Life Extension Program (SLEP). The C-2A(R)'s lifespan was 10,000 hours, or 15,000 carrier landings; plans require the C-2A to perform its mission supporting battle group operational readiness through 2015. The lower landing limit was approaching for most airframes, and the SLEP will increase their projected life to 15,000 hours or 36,000 landings. Once complete, the SLEP will allow the 36 aircraft to operate until 2027. The SLEP includes structural improvements to the center wing, an eight-bladed NP2000 propeller, navigational upgrades including the addition of GPS and the dual CAINS II Navigation System, the addition of crash-survivable flight incident recorders, and a Ground Proximity Warning System. The first upgraded C-2A(R) left NAVAIR Depot North Island on 12 September 2005, after sitting on the ground for three and a half years while the SLEP was developed and installed. All aircraft will receive SLEP by 2015.[6]

A VRC-40 C-2A after SLEP on USS Carl Vinson, July 2009

In November 2008, the company also obtained a $37M contract for the maintenance, logistics and aviation administration services over five years for the C-2A fleet assigned to VX-20 test and evaluation squadron at Patuxent River. Northrop Grumman worked on an upgraded C-2 version, and offered to modernize the fleet with components common to the E-2D Hawkeye.[7]

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