|Nov. 18 marked the 50th anniversary of the first flight of the Navy’s C-2A Greyhound. The “workhorse” of the fleet took to the skies Nov. 18, 1964, from Bethpage, N.Y.|
NAS Patuxent River November 20, 2014 - For nearly 50 years, the C-2A Greyhound has carried passengers, essential supplies and letters from home to U.S. Navy carrier strike groups around the globe. Last year alone, this Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) aircraft transported almost 4 million pounds of cargo and mail, and more than 23,000 passengers between carriers and shore bases.
So, when the Greyhound celebrated the 50th anniversary of its first flight Nov. 18, today’s Navy leaders and industry partners, who were involved in the earliest days of the C-2’s development and testing, reflected on the legacy of the venerable aircraft.
“The first flight of the Greyhound marked the beginning of 50 years of air combat logistics support. The introduction of the C-2 provided a capable and powerful ‘workhorse’ to meet the fleet’s COD requirements,” said E-2/C-2 Airborne Tactical Data System Program Office (PMA-231) Program Manager Capt. John Lemmon. “From 1964 to today, the Greyhound continues to serve the needs of the fleet safely and reliably.”
Thirty-five C-2A aircraft are currently in service, divided between two C-2 squadrons, a fleet training squadron and a test and evaluation squadron. A derivative of the E-2 Hawkeye, the C-2A boasts a wider fuselage and a rear ramp for quick loading and unloading.
The first of two prototypes flew in 1964 from Bethpage, New York, said Dave Seeman, senior project pilot for aircraft manufacturer Grumman, later Northrop Grumman, on the first flight. It was a successful, “non-spectacular” event due to the crew’s experience with a prototype E-2 aircraft, he said.
“[An aircraft’s] first flight, if it is done right, should present no tremendous challenges,” said Seeman, who also acknowledged the importance of the C-2 to the Navy. “The first flight went very, very smoothly.
“The Navy needed a transport that could do more than the C-1 aircraft (the previous COD platform),” he continued. “As your ships and air groups got bigger and requirement for support exponentially increased, you needed an aircraft with greater range and capacity — and the C-2 met these requirements,” said Seeman, a 1957 U.S. Navy Test Pilot School graduate.
Production on the C-2 began in 1965, and the aircraft became part of the Navy’s logistics team in 1966. Nearly 20 years later in 1984, the Navy awarded a contract for 39 new C-2A aircraft to replace the earlier airframes. The older models were phased out in 1987, and the last of the reprocured C-2A Greyhounds delivered in 1990.
“In the past 50 years, so many people have put so much of themselves into the C-2 to get it to where it is today,” Seeman said. “The C-2 is essential to the resupplying of the combat group and has proved itself to be a very utilitarian machine.”