Northrop Grumman Awarded $495M Contract to Sustain U.S. Air Force E-8C Joint STARS Aircraft Fleet

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems has been awarded a $495 million contract for the modernization and sustainment of the U.S. Air Force’s E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft fleet.

The indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity (IDIQ) contract was awarded by the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center (AFLCMC) at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia.

This contract provides for modernization and sustainment of 16 mission and one trainer aircraft. The contract will support the current JSTARS Program Office and Air Combat Command projections of improvements to increase or maintain E-8C performance, capability, reliability, and maintainability.

Work will be provided at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia; and Melbourne, Florida, and is expected to be completed by Sept. 26, 2024.

The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or Joint STARS, is an airborne battle management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform operate by the U.S. Air Force (USAF).

The aircraft’s primary mission is to provide theater ground and air commanders with ground surveillance to support attack operations and targeting that contributes to the delay, disruption and destruction of enemy forces.

The E-8C is a modified Boeing 707-300 series commercial airframe extensively remanufactured and modified with the radar, communications, operations and control subsystems required to perform its operational mission. The most prominent external feature is the 27-foot (8 meters) long, canoe-shaped radome under the forward fuselage that houses the 24-foot (7.3 meters) long, side-looking phased array antenna.

The radar and computer subsystems on the E-8C can gather and display detailed battlefield information on ground forces. The information is relayed in near-real time to the Army and Marine Corps common ground stations and to other ground command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, or C4I, nodes.

The antenna can be tilted to either side of the aircraft where it can develop a 120-degree field of view covering nearly 19,305 square miles (50,000 square kilometers) and is capable of detecting targets at more than 250 kilometers (more than 820,000 feet). The radar also has some limited capability to detect helicopters, rotating antennas and low, slow-moving fixed wing aircraft.

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