Northrop to upgrade radio terminal capabilities aboard USAF’s JSTARS aircraft


Northrop Grumman has been contracted to upgrade communication capabilities aboard the US Air Force’s (USAF) E-8C joint surveillance target attack radar system (Joint STARS) fleet.

Work under the upgradation includes replacing current radio terminals with the USAF tactical receive system-ruggedized (AFTRS-R) terminals.

The AFTRS-R is claimed to provide data feeds from airborne and overhead electronics intelligence collectors, and allow Joint STARS to detect and track a host of mobile threats.

It is also capable of modernising the integrated broadcast service by replacing the current commander’s tactical terminal/hybrid-receive-only (CTT/H-R) radio.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems manned C2ISR programmes director Bryan Lima said: “One of the benefits of our 32-year partnership with the US Air Force on Joint STARS is that we have an in-depth understanding of the E-8C fleet and its mission in support of combatant commanders globally.

“The AFTRS-R modification is another demonstration of our joint commitment to fleet sustainment while providing uninterrupted mission support to the warfighter until the recapitalised fleet is fielded.”

Northrop said that the contract is a separate delivery order under the Joint STARS Systems Improvement Program (JSSIP) III contract awarded by the USAF in October 2013.

"The AFTRS-R modification is another demonstration of our joint commitment to fleet sustainment while providing uninterrupted mission support to the warfighter until the recapitalised fleet is fielded."

The JSSIP III also covers modifications such as global imagery server, which allows for the display of worldwide imagery data on all Joint STARS operator work stations, and the automatic identification system that will provide Joint STARS with a permanent, integrated solution for maritime identification of participating vessels.

Joint STARS is said to be the only all-weather, long-range, real-time, wide area surveillance and battle management and command and control weapon system in the world.

It has been designed to offer battlefield commanders real-time situational information, while simultaneously transmitting target locations to aircraft and ground strike forces, according to the company.

To date, the fleet has recorded more than 130,000 combat hours since 9/11 supporting operations globally, including Operation Inherent Resolve over Iraq and Syria.


Image: Northrop Grumman to integrate airforce tactical receive system-ruggedized on Joint STARS. Photo: courtesy of Northrop Grumman Corporation.