The Control of an aircraft carrier's airspace is vital. Each of
the US Navy's supercarriers is equipped with four or five Grumman
E-2 Hawkeye airborne early warning and control aircraft.
They provide radar coverage around the carrier battle group to
provide a warning of possible threats and the exact locations of
possible targets. This role is similar to that of the Air
Force's E-3 AWACS. The Haweye can provide its operators with
raw data; the AWACS provides computer-generated, processed
The Hawkeye is easily identifiable. It is
the only propeller-driven plane serving aboard US Navy carriers,
but above all it has a huge radome to house its radar antennas.
The current E-2C is fitted with the advanced APS-139 radar system.
Each aircraft's system operators can monitor up to 600 air and
surface targets up to a range of nearly 350 miles and with passive
ESM systems can extend the detection range to beyond 700
miles. The E-2C offers some advantages over its larger Air
Force cousin, the E-3 AWACS.
The Hawkeye normally carries a crew of
five, including the pilot, copilot, Combat Information Center
Officer (CICO), air control officer, and radar officer. Driven by
a pair of fuel-efficient Allison turboprops, it can remain on
station for up to six hours. Its avionics suite includes the
powerful AN/APS-125 radar, whose antenna is mounted in the
trademark "pancake" dome on top of the aircraft. The
Hawkeye also includes a collection of sophisticated sensors which
enable its CIC crew to analyze and classify up to 600 contacts
over land or sea. The stated coverage of a single E-2C is roughly
three million cubic miles. The E-2C+ upgrade includes
radar improvements, software upgrades, and more powerful engines.
Further plans include upgrading the whole E-2 fleet to Block I and
II status, which mean a new radar (APS-139 and APS-145,
respectively) and overall improved processor capability. There
currently is and will continue to be one squadron of four Hawkeyes
in the carrier air wing.
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