$256M to N-G for E-10A
Northrop Grumman Corporation recently received a $256 million contract for the E-10A Multi-Sensor Command and Control aircraft (MC2) from USAir Force Material Command’s Electronic Systems Center at Hanscom Air Force Base, MA. The contract covers design and analysis of the E-10A Technology Development Program (TDP) through Initial Design Review, which is scheduled for May 2007. See Northrop Grumman release.
So, what’s an E-10? For that matter, what’s an Initial Design Review all about? DID has answers…
The future E-10A aircraft is envisaged as a successor to both the E-3 AWACS air surveillance and E-8 JSTARS ground surveillance planes.
The E-10’s radars are usually depicted on a Boeing 767 jet, but in practice the platform will probably be whichever aircraft is selected for the USAF’s top-priority aerial fuel tanker program. This dual-duty approach provides flexibility, but also invites potential shortages and overuse unless the system can be procured in sufficient numbers or supplemented with less expensive options (see “Brittle Swords: Low-Density, High-Demand Assets” [42k, PDF] for a deeper discussion).
The E-10A TDP effort contracted here is focused on integrating Northrop Grumman’s Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) radar and its Battle Management Command and Control (BMC2) mission suite that can detect, classify, characterize and report both ground/sea targets and cruise missiles to joint forces.
As things currently stand, the E-10’s status as a future program remains in doubt; this contract could be the precursor to a full E-10A SDD phase – or it could be testbed for a future E-8 JSTARS upgrade. Its declared status as a “Technology Development Program” headed for an “Initial Design Review” further underlines the lack of commitment to the E-10 as a full-scale “program of record.”
Initial Design Reviews (IDR) are most frequently conducted in programs that feature prototypes. The IDR is usually followed by a Final Design Review (FDR) of working prototype(s), before the program goes on to Milestone B approval. That milestone is the gateway to a full system design and development phase that aims to produce a final design, full working systems, manufacturing plans, performance testing, flight tests in the case of aircraft, etc. See “Specifying Initial Design Review (IDR) and Final Design Review (FDR) Criteria” for more background in this area.