An “airborne early warning and control” system is an airborne radar picket system designed to detect aircraft, ships, vehicles, missiles, and other incoming projectiles at long ranges, and perform command and control of the battlespace in an air engagement by directing fighter and attack aircraft strikes.
AEW&C units are also used to carry out surveillance, including over ground targets, and frequently perform C2BM (command and control, battle management) functions similar to an Air Traffic Controller given military command over other forces.
AEW&C aircraft are used for both defensive and offensive air operations.
in addition to being a highly mobile and powerful radar platform. The system is used offensively to direct fighters to their target locations, and defensively, directing counterattacks on enemy forces, both air, and ground.