Airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) radars are mounted on aircraft and are used to carry out surveillance, C2BM (command and control, battle management) functions similar to an Air Traffic Controller, detect near by aircraft and terrain for collision avoidance, detect and track targets and distinguish between friendly and hostile aircraft. Its high mobility makes it much less vulnerable to counter-attack.
An air early warning (AEW) Seaking helicopter from 849 Naval Air Squadron is pictured during flying operations from HMS Ark Royal (2010).
An E-2C Hawkeye assigned to the VAW-115 “Liberty Bells” is taking off from USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) (2004). US Navy Grumman E-2C Hawkeye carrier based AEW&C.
The E-3 Sentry is a modified Boeing 707/320 commercial airframe with a rotating radar dome. The dome is 30 feet in diameter, 6 feet thick and is held 11 feet above the fuselage by two struts. The radar has a range of more than 200 miles for low-flying targets and farther for aerospace vehicles flying at medium to high altitudes.
A NATO Boeing E-3 "Sentry" (LX-N90454), carrying the roundel of Luxembourg, in a touch and go at Luxembourg airport.
A Royal Navy Fairey Gannet AEW.3 (serial number XL502) in flight during Air Fete'88, a NATO aircraft display hosted by the U.S. Air Force's 513th Airborne Command and Control Wing, at RAF Mildenhall, Suffolk (UK).They were used during the 1960s and 1970s.
A Boeing RC-135 Cobra Ball. An RC-135 Rivet Joint reconnaissance aircraft moves into position behind a KC-135T/R Stratotanker for an aerial refuelling over Southwest Asia March 14, 2006.
A U.S. Navy Lockheed EC-121M Warning Star of fleet air reconnaissance squadron VQ-1 World Watchers accompanied by a McDonnell F-4B Phanton II of fighter squadron VF-151 Vigilantes from Attack Carrier Air Wing 15 (CVW-15).