The Hawkeye 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 uses computerized sensors to provide early warning, threat analyses and control of counteraction against air and surface targets.
Carrier-based E-2C 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.