USA Spending $532M to Upgrade its E-8 J-STARS Eyes in the Sky
Northrop Grumman Corp. in Melbourne, FL received a $532 million cost-reimbursement fixed-price contract to procure improvements which will increase the performance capability, reliability, and maintainability of the E-8C J-STARS (Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) aircraft.
With their advanced ground-looking radars and sensors, and extensive communications intercept capabilities, they providing a picture of the ground situation equivalent to AWACS air picture. J-STARS aircraft are capable of determining the direction, speed and patterns of military activity of ground vehicles and helicopters. They then act as an airborne command and control center, sending this information via secure data links with air force command posts, army mobile ground stations and centers of military analysis around the world.
The USA ordered 19 total E-8 J-STARS aircraft, built around the airframe of the Boeing 707-300 airliner. The operational fleet of 17 planes has been deployed in every major crisis situation since Desert Storm.
Some of the projected fleet upgrade efforts would be focused on communications, navigation, surveillance, air traffic management, mobile target tracking, joint tactical radio systems, advanced radar systems, and capability for airborne networking. The US Air Force can issue task orders totaling up to the maximum $532 million amount, but may issue less.
This effort will include proposed upgrades and improvements from studies to systems engineering, manufacturing, installation, test and demonstrations, production and retrofit, engineering change proposals, documentation, logistics support and sustainment, and simulation of solution, initial operator training, etc. Work will be complete in December 2011. Solicitations began in August 2005 with one proposal received by the Headquarters Electronic Systems Center, Hanscom Air Force Base, MA (FA8708-06-D-0001).