The Northrop Grumman E-2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft is the eyes and ears of the Carrier Strike Group in the sky. Sent up to determine if there are aerial threats that can threaten the Naval Task Force.

E-2C Hawkeye EW planes are crucial defense linebackers

Flying as high as 25,000 feet altitude, the E-2C will be part of a network that relays information to a battle network that includes target data to interceptor like the high-speed Tomcat or the F/A-18 Hornets on combat air patrol (CAP). CAPs are groups of fighters specialized for interception and air to air combat connect to the Hawkeye's information link, reported Naval Technology.

Another function of the surveillance aircraft is to coordinate strike command and control, tracking for adversaries, also search and rescue missions for down planes and personnel—one of the most modern communication systems on the E-2C.

 Before 1973, the US Navy did not have this capability, but its introduction revolutionized naval warfare. The Hawkeyes are high-value targets for adversaries to turn a maritime group blind in battle, have the most advanced electronic countermeasures in any military force.

The Block II aircraft, or upgraded version, which had a better engine and radar, went into service in 1992 and was received in 2001.

It is being used by Egypt, France, Israel, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and the US Navy. The Mexican Navy acquired three ex-Israeli Air Force E-2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft, the first two received in June 2004 and the third in November of that year.

Read also: India Navy Gets Latest P-8I Submarine Hunters Aircraft to Boost its Anti-Submarine Warfare

One of the most significant buys is 180 EW E-2Cs for the US Navy, one of its most prolific users. Other nations got 30 of them due to a high price tag. US Naval Reserve has assigned six of them for drug interdiction and homeland security operations.

The aircraft is flown by a five crew that includes the pilot and co-pilot on the flight deck and the combat control center, air control, and radar operator stations in the rear fuselage right under the rotodome.

Carrier operations specialist

They are designed for landing and take-off on carrier decks from the start. It has an attachment for the steam catapult (CATOBAR) and has the arresting gear to catch the cable when landing on the Flat top, noted Military Wikia.

The wings retract to lie flat on the fuselage for space in the hangar. To reduce getting seen by radar, a particular cross-section is made of light metal, and parts of the tailfin are made of a composite building frame.

Improvements to its propeller are digitally controlled, not mechanically controlled, that is in use since May 2004 on the USN Hawkeye 2000. The new propellers had reduced vibration and less noise. The new propellers earned their first carrier certification on the USS John F Kennedy in November 2003.

Systems of the E-2C

The Hawkeye has a 24ft diameter circular antenna radome, AN/APA-171 antenna spinning at 5rpm to 6rpm. This Lockheed Martin AN/APS-145 radar spin can sense about 2000 objects with 40 hostile inbounds to the fleet's safe zone, mentioned military aerospace.

To prevent getting fooled or spoofed by electronic countermeasures, it can see past attempts to deceive the E-2C Hawkeye early warning aircraft can detect planes are 550 km or more.

Related article: India, Russia to Improve the Brahmos Missile to Attack AWACS Aircraft