ABOARD USS ABRAHAM LINCOLN, At Sea (NNS) -- Lt.j.g. Sam Kesler, a Carrier Airborne Early Warning (VAW) Squadron 113 pilot, is sitting behind his duty desk passing out guns and bullets to a group of geared-up naval flight officers (NFOs) leaving on another mission.
"The guns," one pilot said, "are for our protection in case we get shot down."
The VAW-113 "Black Eagles" were concerned about getting shot down while they were deployed with USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"Most fighter planes have radars that only see straight ahead. Our radar moves 360 degrees around, giving us a more accurate and wider picture," said Kesler.
The Hawkeye transmits and receives radar that determines where other aircraft are in the sky. A special system inside the radar tells the pilots whether the aircraft is a friend or foe.
"With the IFF system (Identification Friend or Foe), we can find out where the good and bad guys are, report it to the warfare commanders on the ship, and give the air fighters an overall view of the battle space," said Kesler.
Five officers perform each Hawkeye mission. Two officers up front flying the plane, and three officers man the radios in the rear.
"Our primary job is the flow of information," he said. "We listen to reports and pass it on to who needs to know. We are almost always out there directing the fighters. Kind of like airborne air traffic controllers, we are providing the fighters with the information they need to put bombs on target."
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