The E-2A Hawkeye was designed with one primary mission in mind: patrolling the approaches to the fleet to detect impending attack by hostile aircraft, missiles or sea forces. In addition to this AEW function, the E-2A provided strike and traffic control, area surveillance, search and rescue guidance, navigational assistance and communications relay services.
Capable of all-weather carrier operations, the Hawkeye has great flexibility in assignments owing to its sophisticated electronics equipment. Its Airborne Tactical Data System (ATDS), consisting of an auto-detection radar, airborne computers, and a memory and data link system, is tied to the Naval Tactical Data System (NTDS), located at fleet headquarters, which gives an overall picture of the tactical situation.
One interesting feature of the E-2 is its 24-foot revolving radar dish. The dish rotates at six rpm and can be retracted two feet to facilitate stowage aboard a carrier. The lift produced by the radar dish when the plane is in flight is sufficient to offset its own weight.
The first Grumman W2F-1 Hawkeye (E-2A) flew in October of 1961, with first fleet operations commencing in January of 1964. There were 59 E-2A aircraft delivered by 1967.
The first Hawkeyes went to sea aboard USS Kitty Hawk (CVA 63) with VAW-11 in 1966. Since that time, they have become a regular part of the fleet's defensive and offensive forces.
The five-man crew consists of two pilots and three equipment operators. They can monitor a large number of aircraft at any given time, directing strike aircraft to assigned targets, in fair weather or foul, while maintaining a watch for hostile forces within the long range of their radar. Working as a team, the Hawkeyes surround the fleet with an early warning ring capable of directing air defenses against any enemy.
On 19 December 1962, an E-2A piloted by Lt. Cmdr. Lee M. Ramsey was catapulted off Enterprise in the first shipboard test of nose-tow gear designed to replace the catapult bridle and reduce launching intervals. Minutes later the second nose-tow launch was made by an A-6A.
Oriskany returned to San Diego 10 March 1964. After overhaul at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, she steamed for refresher training out of San Diego, followed by qualifications for Carrier Wing 16. During this period her flight deck was used to test the E-2A Hawkeye, the Navy's new airborne early warning aircraft. She also provided orientation to senior officers of eight allied nations.
In July 1966, VAW-12 received the first E-2A Hawkeye, and was supplying detachments utilizing two different aircraft aboard ten Atlantic Fleet aircraft carriers in addition to training personnel for those detachments. With over 200 officers and 800 enlisted personnel, VAW - 12 was reorganized as an Air Wing, and on 1 April 1967, Admiral T.E. Moore, Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, commissioned Carrier Airborne Early Warning Wing Twelve with six operating squadrons.
In July 1966 Carrier Air Wing TWO's marked its first all-Phantom deployment and E-2A Hawkeyes joined the team. Coordinated carrier operations in the Gulf of Tonkin earned the Air Wing the Navy Unit Commendation in February 1967.
The "Black Eagles" were commissioned as a separate squadron on April 29, 1967. One week later, VAW-113 deployed to the Western Pacific (WESTPAC) flying the E-2A "Hawkeye" aboard USS CONSTELLATION (CV 64). VAW-113 served in Vietnamese Operations every year from 1967 to 1975.
During the late 1960s Point Mugu was home for a small number of E-2A Hawkeyes that were used in test and evaluation roles. Fleet E-2 squadrons were first established at NAS North Island and later moved to NAS Miramar during the mid 1970's.As the result of BRAC, the Marine Corps relocated to MCAS Miramar, Calif., from MCAS El Toro, Calif.
The E-2 Hawkeye has been improved since the first E-2A flew in 1961. Follow-on models include the E-2B and E-2C with advanced radar, improved computer systems, and expanded surveillance and command control capability.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list