E2 Hawkeye is a AWAC System and the only ones that can operate from aircraft carriers. Developed in 1960s by USA and it has been inducted by 10 countries. It’s latest model is E-2D. This AWACS has a range of 300 km and endurance of up to 8 hours.

Operating from an altitude more than 25,000ft high, the Hawkeye alerts the naval task force to approaching air threats, while also providing threat identification and positional data to fighter aircraft. Secondary roles include strike command and control, surveillance, the guidance of search and rescue missions and as a relay to extend the range of communications.

The E-2D Advanced Hawkeye serves as a “digital quarterback” that gives navies expanded battlespace awareness with “battle management theatre air and missile defence, and multiple sensor fusion capabilities.”

The aircraft provides 360-degree radar coverage with all-weather tracking, new and powerful AN/APY-9 radar, fully integrated “All Glass” tactical cockpit, new mission computer and tactical workstations, electronic support measures, advanced Identification Friend or Foe system, modernized communications and Data Link Suite.

In early 2000s, India had inducted a new 45,000 tons aircraft carrier named INS Vikramaditya. This aircraft carrier is being build by Russia. I can operate up to 36 aircraft and helicopters. India has purchased MiG-29K to operate from this aircraft carrier. In early 2010s, there was a proposal to buy 3–4 units of E-2C AWACS to operate from USA as force multipliers. India also discusses with Northrop Grumman for possible acquisition of E-2C.

Though Indian navy never clarify the possible reasons of delay or any status of acquisition. But in various defence forums and news experts has trying to put some light of reasons of delay.

First Let Understand, Why Indian Required Or Does Not Require the E-2C?

At present, INS Vikramaditya does not face any formidable air power in sea. Pakistan is operating only some land based fighter plane like old Mirage-5 and new JF-17. These Naval strike aircrafts are arm with anti ship missile and operate from shore based air fields. Has very short range. From some news articles, I have comes to know at present only 8 Mirage 5 armed with Exocet missile and 6 units of JF-17 arm with C-802 missile are in PAF’s Naval arm.

They works as coastal defence and area denial roles . Seldom went to high seas. PAF does not have any air defence fighter that operate beyond coastal areas. But INS Vikramaditya is operate at high seas. So for INS Vikramaditya does not has any threat at sea. And PAF’s not big threat for Indian Navy as of now. And our MiG-29K is more than enough to tackle them.

IAF’s Su-30MKI’s also operates in high seas. Due to these India has upper hand in Arabian sea. E-2C is not urgent requirements. Pakistan’s Naval air arm is too small to pose any big threat to Indian Navy. India navy with its MiG-29K and IAF with Su-30MKI can easily tackle this threat of Mirage 5 and JF-17.

Indian Navy already operating 6 units of KA-31 AEW helicopters, which can perform most of the task of AWACS. It was previously operated from INS Viraat. After retirement of INS Viraat, these AEW helicopters was deployed in INS Vikramaditya. It fulfilled basic AWACS requirements of Indian Navy.

At present, Pakistan is not expanding much to its Naval air power. But they exponentially increasing their under water and surface warships. They already has good numbers of Submarines (6 units) and acquiring 8 Chinese Submarines. At present and future their Submarines is going to be biggest threat for Indian navy. Plus Chinese Submarines also started to comes into Indian water.

So Indian navy is now focusing and allocating more resources in its anti Submarine capabilities. Indian navy currently has 10 units of old KA-28 anti Submarine helicopters, which was acquired in late 1980s. These are about to retired. INS Vikramaditya urgently needs anti Submarine helicopter rather than AWACS. So with its limited budget Indian Navy is buying 24 units of MH-60 anti Submarine helicopters from USA rather than E-2C AWACS.