The National Guard Association of the United States (NGAUS) passed a resolution calling for the modernization of the Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC)-built E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) fleet. The resolution was voted on by a majority of delegates at the 133rd NGAUS General Conference & Exhibition annual convention in Milwaukee,Wisc.
"The National Guard Association is a supporter of the Joint STARS platform. This resolution is a strong expression of support towards improving warfighting capabilities and enhancing future operations conducted by the Joint STARS Wing," said Dale Burton, vice president of the Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance and Battle Management and Engagement Systems division, which leads the Joint STARS program.
The resolution outlines several key upgrades that will ensure the readiness of the Air National Guard E-8C fleet and enhance the lethality of the current weapon system.
Re-engining is at the forefront of the modernization effort. New engines increase the takeoff performance and allow for longer time on station and higher maximum altitudes, improving support to the operational forces. Re-engining the 17-ship Joint STARS fleet will improve the readiness and operational effectiveness of the fleet while lowering the overall ownership costs.
Additional proposed modernization efforts include adding multi-intelligence sensors such as high resolution electro-optical/infrared cameras to enhance combat identification capabilities and radar and sensor upgrades which take advantage of the latest technological breakthroughs.
The insertion of wideband communications and other connectivity enhancements will provide better communications and support to air and ground forces.
The first E-8C Joint STARS was delivered to the Air Force on March 4, 1996, and the last fully-configured aircraft was delivered on March 22, 2005. On Dec. 20, 2008, the programs' T-3 testbed aircraft flew with new engines for the first time and the company is currently testing additional radar and sensor capabilities on its aircraft in Melbourne.
To date, Joint STARS has accumulated over 80,000 combat hours supporting operations, including ongoing support to Operation New Dawn over Iraq, Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan and Operation Odyssey Dawn over Libya.