On December 28, the US Air Force released a ‘request for proposals’ to develop a Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) replacement. The current Joint STARS, based on an E-8C aircraft (modified Boeing 707) is an airborne battlefield management, command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform.
First flying in Operation Desert Storm in 1991 the JSTARS has become an invaluable asset to the US military with the current fleet of aircraft surpassing one million flight hours.
The Joint STARS uses a multi-mode side looking radar to detect, track, and classify moving ground vehicles in all conditions deep behind enemy lines. The aircraft is the only airborne platform in operation that can maintain real time surveillance over a corps-sized area of the battlefield.
The RFP includes all aspects of the system, including the airframe, radar, communication systems and battle management command and control suite. The RFP will result in the delivery of three engineering and manufacturing development, or EMD, JSTARS Recap weapon systems for testing. There are also contract options for low-rate initial production for two more weapon systems and full-rate production of lots #1-3 for four additional weapon systems each, for a total of 17 aircraft.
This proposal solicitation will be a full and open competition with an anticipated contract award in fiscal year 2018, to have assets available for initial operational capability by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024. – US Air Force
Take a Tour of a JSTARS
A JSTARS ‘Eye in the Sky’ aircraft is easily recognizable by the 27 foot long, canoe shaped radome under the forward fuselage. There were 17 JSTARS built at an estimated cost of about $240 million each. It is operated jointly by Air Force and Air National Guard units while also carrying specially trained Army personnel.
Featured Image by US Air Force