E-2C Hawkeye (aka "The Hummer")
The U.S. Navy E-2C Hawkeye is the "eyes and ears" for US Carrier Battle Groups. They are equipped with a long range surveillance radar, and have significant communication capability. The E-2C Hawkeye is normally based aboard aircraft carriers, acting as the airborne "quarterback," or battle manager for the fleet. There currently is one squadron of four Hawkeyes in each carrier air wing (CVW). The E-2C Hawkeye is an all-weather, tactical airborne warning and control system platform. It provides all-weather airborne early warning and command and control functions for the carrier battle group. With it's distinctive 24 foot diameter rotating radome and more than 12,000 pounds of electronics, the E-2C can monitor 6 million cubic miles of airspace and more than 150,000 square miles of ocean surface for the presence of aircraft, missiles, ships, and fixed targets. The Hawkeye's long-range radar and other electronic surveillance systems can simultaneously detect and track hundreds of ships and aircraft more than 200 miles away. With its specialized computer and communication equipment, the E-2C can also be used for missions such as air traffic control, surface surveillance coordination, strike and interceptor control, search and rescue guidance and communications relay. Designed and built by Northrop-Grumman Corporation, the has been on active duty with the US Navy since 1973.
The E-2 serves in a very similar role as that of the USAF E-3 AWACS. For this reason, E-2s are sometimes called "mini - AWACS." However, the E-2C does offer some advantages which the E-3 does not. For instance, the Hawkeye can provide its radar operators with raw radar data rather than only computer-generated, processed information. In some cases (with a skilled operator at the console) this can mean picking up contacts that the signal processors miss. Their primary mission is air defense, but they have operated as ABCCC platforms (Airborne Command Control and Communication), most recently in Kosovo. All of them are equipped with Navy Tactical Data System (NTDS) Link 11 and Fighter Control Link 4A. The block two aircraft have an improved radar and have Data Link 16 Joint Tactical Integrated Data System (JTIDS) installed.
Since its combat debut during the Vietnam conflict, the E-2 has served the Navy around the world. Hawkeyes directed F-14 Tomcat fighters flying combat air patrol during the two-carrier battle group joint strike against terrorist-related Libyan targets in 1986. E-2Cs and AEGIS cruisers, working together, provided total air mass superiority over the American fleet. More recently, E-2Cs provided the command and control for successful operations during the Persian Gulf War, directing both land attack and combat air patrol missions over Iraq and providing control for the shoot-down of two Iraqi MIG-21 aircraft by carrier-based F/A-18s in the early days of the war.
The E-2C provides air control to fighter aircraft to intercept enemy air threats, while reporting the situation back to the Battle Group and maintaining a tactical picture through the on-board data links. When it comes to projecting power ashore, the crew directs the concerted efforts of a strike to ensure interceptors, attack, and electronic warfare aircraft arrive and depart hostile territory safely.
Advanced Hawkeye radar risk reduction flight-testing was performed at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division, Patuxent River, Maryland, on the NC-130H aircraft from December 2002 - June of 2003. The Advanced Development Model radar system used during the demonstrations at the Pacific Makaha Ridge Facility in 1997 and 1999 was integrated into the NC-130H. Specific risk reduction objectives included evaluation of space time adaptive processing operation in critical operational environments and conditions and radar system performance. The system was operated in overland and littoral environments that included ground traffic, clutter, jamming, and casual electromagnetic interference. Radar system assessment included controlled target detection range performance in clutter and jamming environments and system accuracy. Initial analysis of flight test data indicates the program met all system risk reduction objectives and achieved all predicted performance capabilities.
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