Grumman C-2 Greyhound Carrier-based Cargo Aircraft
The C-2 Greyhound transport was developed from the carrier-based E-2 Hawkeye Airborne Early Warning aircraft.
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The Grumman C-2 Greyhound was developed from the successful Grumman E-2 Hawkeye. Whereas the latter was a dedicated carrier-based Airborne Early Warning platform, the Greyhound was evolved into a carrier-based transport featuring a proper role classification of "Carrier Onboard Delivery" or COD. The Greyhound has proven an invaluable addition to US carrier operations across the world, being able to capably shuttle personnel, supplies and spare parts from land-bases to carriers at sea with outstanding turn-around times. Greyhounds served in Operation Desert Storm and continue to support ongoing US Navy operations in Operation Enduring Freedom. Some 39 C-2(R) models remain in active service. The C-2 Greyhound replaced the similar Grumman C-1 Traders in the same carrier-based role. C-1 Traders were twin piston-engine transports developed from the Grumman S-2 Tracker and appeared in 1952, operating until 1988.
The Greyhound prototype achieved first flight in 1964 while C-2A production began in 1965, lasting until 1968. A modernization program brought existing Greyhounds up to speed in 1973. This was followed by a second production batch beginning in 1984 and consisting of the improved C-2A(R) ("R" for "Reprocured") models and were ordered to replace original Greyhounds in service. The C-2A(R) was essentially the same Greyhound aircraft of old with the exception that these new production models fitted an updated avionic package and airframe refinements throughout in an effort to bring the old girl up to modern status. With the arrival of the C-2A(R), original C-2A systems were gradually removed from service by 1987. Production of C-2A(R) models lasted from 1985 through 1989.
Design of the Greyhound sported many of the features that characterized the E-2 Hawkeye series. The Greyhound retained the identifiable four-fin tail assembly and the straight, high-wing monoplanes. Wing systems were foldable for improved carrier storage by "twisting" down and then folding towards the empennage, just outboard of each engine nacelle. As in the Hawkeye, engines on the Greyhound are mounted under each wing, fitted into streamlined nacelles. Each engine - Allison T56-A-425 turboprops of 4,800 shaft horsepower - the same engines fitted to the Hawkeye - were fitted with four-bladed Hamilton-Standard constant-speed propellers. If there were any differentiating factors between the two aircraft (not taking into account the Hawkeye's obvious fuselage-mounted radome) it was in the Greyhound's stout fuselage and shortened snub nose. The Greyhound utilized a conventional fully-retractable tricycle undercarriage with main gears fitted to each engine nacelle and a nose wheel at the forward-most portion of the fuselage. When at rest, the Greyhound took on a noticeably low profile, useful for the loading and unloading process. A cargo door was fitted to the rear of the fuselage as was an onboard powered winch to help with the heavy stuff. The Greyhound was also cleared for airdrop service actions involving either personnel or cargo as required.
Performance from the Allison powerplants netted a top speed of 345 miles-per-hour along with a cruise speed upwards of 289 miles-per-hour. A range of 1,496 miles was possible as was a service ceiling of up to 33,500 feet with a rate-of-climb of 2,610 feet-per-minute. Payload limitation was listed at up to 10,000lbs consisting of either passengers or cargo. In the former, the Greyhound could seat up to 26 personnel or 12 medical litters as needed. Standard operational crew were two pilots and two aircrew personnel.
Production of this fine transport aircraft was limited to just 58 examples, costing the American tax payer at least $38.96 million dollars per unit. The United States Navy remains the sole operator of the C-2 Greyhound system and, as of this writing, current service Greyhounds have been entered into a "Critical Life Extension Program", otherwise known as "SLEP" - an effort to once again increase their service lives as the United States Navy admits no plans to replace the type.
UPDATE: November 2012 - A modified, modernized C-2 Greyhound is expected to square-off against a Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey tilt-rotor helicopter for the future of Carrier Onboard Delivery (COD) operations of the United States Navy. Though both types hold inherent benefits and drawbacks, though the selection of the latter could very well change the scope of USN operations at sea with its STOVL capabilities.
In January of 2015 it was announced that the USN had elected to take on a stock of USMC MV-22 tilt-rotor aircraft instead of modernizing its C-2 force.