Saturday, May 9, 2015

Iconic Planes: E-2 Hawkeye

The E-2 Hawkeye is manufactured by Northrop Grumman and is one of the most recognizable planes on an aircraft carrier. It is instantly distinguishable from other aircraft due to the rotating dome on top of its fuselage which acts as a radar dish. The Hawkeye is an AWACS aircraft (Airborne Early Warning and Control); it can perform a variety of functions and can also act as headquarters in case of search and rescue, strike missions, etc. The E-2 also has the capability to act as an Air Traffic Control centre if one is unavailable. On an aircraft carrier, the Hawkeye provides radar coverage far beyond that of a carrier's own. (Above): An E-2C, a variant of the E-2, in flight.

The Hawkeye is a twin-propeller plane with wings that are almost sitting on the fuselage. It is equipped with a tricycle landing system (like a tricycle, this configuration consists of one front wheel and two back wheels). The radar dome above the fuselage is a very rare feature, and, among land-based aircraft, this feature is seen mostly on the Boeing E-3 Sentry, a larger AWACS plane. Each plane has a five-man crew: a pilot and co-pilot, a radar operator, a combat information centre officer and an air control officer. It is equipped with a tailhook, like most carrier-borne planes. (Left): A special 8-bladed version of the Hawkeye.

The Hawkeye is crucial to any carrier's operation. Usually, 4 or 5 Hawkeyes are on each carrier, so as to provide continuous radar support. In many operations, this aircraft has given vital information about the battlefield and the skies. Also, after Hurricane Katrina, three E-2s were deployed to give ATC coverage and to control the US Army, Navy, Marine Corps, etc. rescue units which were deployed to provide relief support. (Right): An interior shot of an E-2.

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