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E-2C Hawkeye

The E-2C Hawkeye is the U.S. Navy's all-weather, carrier-based tactical airborne warning and control system platform. It provides all-weather airborne early warning and command and control functions for the carrier battle group. Additional missions include surface surveillance coordination, strike and interceptor control, search and rescue guidance and communications relay.

An integral component of the carrier air wing, the E-2C carries three primary sensors: radar, IFF, and a passive detection system. These sensors are integrated through a general purpose computer that enables the E-2C to provide early warning, threat analyses, and control of counter action against air and surface targets. The E-2C incorporates the latest solid state electronics.

Carrier-based E-2C Hawkeye airborne early warning aircraft directed F-14 Tomcat fighters that provided combat air patrol during the two-carrier battle group joint strike against terrorist-related Libyan targets in 1986, and during the crisis period preceeding and following the strike. E-2Cs and AEGIS cruisers, working together, provided total air mass superiority over the American fleet. During this time, American aircraft made 153 intercepts of Libyan air force attempts to overfly the U.S. fleet, intercept the U.S. fighter combat air patrol, or gather intelligence information. Not once did a Libyan aircraft get into firing position before it was locked into the sights of a U.S. aircraft or AEGIS platform missile.

There currently is one squadron of four Hawkeyes in each carrier air wing (CVW).

E-2 aircraft also have worked extremely effectively with U.S. law enforcement agencies in drug interdiction operations. The E-2C replaces the E-2B, an earlier version. E-2C aircraft entered U.S. Navy service with Airborne Early Warning Squadron 123 (VAW-123) at NAS Norfolk, Va., in November 1973. Procurement of E-2Cs by the Navy is planned at six per year for FY 1988-98.

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 processing capability.

On 26 April 1999 Northrop Grumman was awarded a $1,305,400,000 multiyear advanced acquisition contract for the procurement of 21 airborne early warning E-2C aircraft in the Hawkeye 2000 configuration for the US Navy, and long lead material for one aircraft for the government of France under the Foreign Military Sales Program. Work will be performed in St. Augustine, Fla. (80%), and Bethpage, N.Y. (20%), and is expected to be completed by July 2006.

Taiwan received four E-2T [for Taiwan] Hawkeyes as of September 1995 as part of a $749.5 million deal with US firm Northrop Grumman. In conjunction with F-16 and Mirage 2000 fighters, the E-2Ts will enhance Taiwan's air defence capability, increasing attack warning times from five minutes to 25 minutes.



Northrop Grumman (Prime), Westinghouse


Early warning and control aircraft

Power Plant:

E-2C: Two Allison T56-A-425 turboprops; each has approximately 4,600 horsepower

E-2C+: Two Allison T56-A-427 engines; each has approximately 5,100 horsepower; since 1988


Crew of five—two pilots and three operators.


E-2C: maximum speed 350 knots; range 1,300 nautical miles

E-2C+: maximum speed 350 knots; range 1,500 nautical miles


Not applicable


E-2C: Lockheed Martin Ocean, Radar, and Surveillance Systems [ex General Electric Corporation] AN/APS-138 radar since 1984;
AN/APS-139 since 1988

E-2C+: Lockheed Martin Ocean, Radar, and Surveillance Systems [ex General Electric Corporation] AN/APS-145 radar since 1991

All: AN/ALR-73 Passive Detection System, IFF

Mission and Capabilities:

  • High-wing, all-weather, carrier-based airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) aircraft that patrols task force defense perimeters
  • Provides early warning of approaching enemy aircraft and vectors interceptors into attack position
  • In addition to its primary AEW function, can also provide strike and traffic control, area surveillance, search and rescue guidance, navigational assistance, communications relay, and drug interdiction.
  • Group II upgrade to E-2C+ is the biggest advance in AEW technology in two decades.
  • AN/APS-145 radar provides fully automatic overland detection and tracking and significantly extends the radar detection limits. The radar capable of detecting targets anywhere within a three-million-cubic-mile surveillance envelope while simultaneously monitoring maritime traffic.
  • An Enhanced High-Speed Processor, which expands the active track file by 400% over previous versions, is incorporated into the mission computer. Each E-2C can maintain all-weather patrols, track, automatically and simultaneously, more than 600 targets, and control more than 40 airborne intercepts.
  • Enhanced Main Display Units provide operators with improved visual representation.
  • Joint Tactical Information Distribution System (JTIDS) incorporates several anti-jam features to allow uninterrupted voice and data communications, thereby enhancing interoperability.

Program Summary:

  • In service with Naval Air Forces Atlantic and Naval Air Forces Pacific, as well as the armed forces of Israel, Japan, Egypt, Singapore, and Taiwan
  • Will be delivered to France in 1997
  • Discussions with several other potential customers are ongoing.
  • The Hawkeye entered service in 1961 as the E-2A and was updated in 1969 to the E-2B.
  • E-2C was introduced in 1973.
  • In 1978, the AN/APS-125 Advanced Radar Processing System was introduced and was succeeded in 1984 by the AN/APS-138 (now referred to as Group 0).
  • Retirement has begun; only 53 of these aircraft remain in the inventory.
  • In 1988, Group I version was introduced; this featured an upgraded T56-A-427 engine, which eliminated operating restrictions imposed by growth in the aircraft’s gross weight due to incorporation of new systems.
  • Radar was updated to the AN/APS-139 with a High-Speed Processor that doubled the track files maintained by the system.
  • Eighteen Group I aircraft were built and are being upgraded to Group II configuration.
  • The AN/APS-145 radar alleviates saturation, track overload, and overland tracking clutter.
  • Group II increases radar and IFF range, radar volume, target track capability, number of targets displayed, and target recognition capability through the use of color displays.
  • Group I and Group II aircraft are also referred to as E-2C+.


External Dimensions

Wing span 24.56 m
Wing chord: (at root) 3.96 m
Wing chord (at tip) 1.32 m
Wing aspect ratio 8.94 m
Length overall 17.54 m
Height overall 5.58 m
Diameter of rotodome 7.32 m
Tailplane span 7.99 m
Wheel track 5.93 m
Wheel base 7.06 m
Propeller diameter 4.11 m


Wings, gross 65.03 m2
Ailerons (totals) 5.76 m2
Trailing-edge flaps (total) 11.03 m2
Fins, include rudders and tabs:  
Outboard (total)
10.25 m2
Inboard (total)
4.76 m2
Tailplane 11.62 m2
Elevators (total) 3.72 m2

Weights and Loadings

Weight empty 17,859 kg
Maximum fuel (internal, usable) 5,624 kg
Maximum T-O weight 5,624 kg
Maximum power loading 3.18 kg/kW

Performance (at maximum Takeoff Weight)

Maximum level speed 338 knots
Cruising speed (ferry) 259 knots
Approach speed 103 knots
Stalling speed (landing configuration) 75 knots
Service ceiling 11,275 m
Minimum T-O run 564 m
T-O to 15 m 793 m
Minimum landing run 439 m
Combat Radius 1,500 Km
Ferry range 1,542 nm
Time on station, 175 nautical miles from base 4 hr. 24 min
Endurance with maximum fuel 6 hr. 15 min


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Maintained by Robert Sherman
Originally created by John Pike
Last updated