Northrop Grumman's (NYSE:NOC) E‑8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System's (Joint STARS) T-3 testbed aircraft successfully completed its "first flight" using new, upgraded Pratt and Whitney production-configured engines.
"After three years of design, production and testing, we are so pleased to have this important capability ready for full integration into the fleet," said Bryan Lima, Northrop Grumman program director for Joint STARS development and modernization. "Our success is directly attributed to our outstanding relationship with our government customer and industry partners in providing the warfighter with this important capability."
The new engines flown on T-3 are an upgrade to the existing commercial engines in that they feature a newly designed pneumatic system. The system, designed by Northrop Grumman, uses a single stage precooling design that vastly improves reliability and the hardware's life cycle.
The new precooler allows hot, compressed air from the engines turbines to be processed at a substantially cooler temperature and more consistent pressure level than its predecessor. This improves the efficiency of the Air Cycle Machines which cools the aircraft's environmental control system, cabin, and Prime Mission Equipment, as well as pressurizes the utility hydraulic subsystem, engine starting capability and liquid cooling system.
The new engine on T-3 allows for an increased mission capable rate and lowered ownership costs. The re-engining of the fleet has the potential to provide the Joint STARS system with significant operational and maintenance improvements.
In addition to enhancing operational performance, the new engines pay for themselves within eight years through reduced maintenance cost and better fuel efficiency.
Today, the Joint STARS fleet is the only all-weather, long-range, real-time, wide area surveillance and battle management and command and control weapons system in the world. It is flown by the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings based on Warner Robins, Ga.
To date, Joint STARS has accumulated over 70,000 combat hours supporting operations, including ongoing support to Operation New Dawn over Iraq, Operation Enduring Freedom over Afghanistan and Operation Odyssey Dawn over Libya.
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