Northrop to upgrade central computers on USAF’s E-8C Joint STARS

5 October 2018 (Last Updated October 5th, 2018 11:34)

Northrop Grumman has secured a contract to upgrade the central computers on the US Air Force’s (USAF) E-8C joint surveillance target attack radar system (Joint STARS) aircraft fleet.

Northrop to upgrade central computers on USAF’s E-8C Joint STARS
USAF aircrew members monitor surveillance data while flying a night mission aboard an E-8C Joint STARS. Credit: U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons.

Northrop Grumman has secured a contract to upgrade the central computers on the US Air Force’s (USAF) E-8C joint surveillance target attack radar system (Joint STARS) aircraft fleet.

Under the $17.5m contract, the company will be responsible for providing a fifth-generation update to the computers on 16 E-8Cs.

Northrop Grumman manned airborne surveillance programmes vice-president Jane Bishop said: “Our latest central computer replacement programme upgrades the current computers with powerful, advanced technology running Linux, delivering a quantum leap forward to the mission system.

“Our goal is to continue to rapidly deliver new capability to our combatant commanders to ensure that Joint STARS always provides our warfighters with information dominance for decision superiority.”

“The system provides battlefield commanders with real-time situational data while simultaneously transmitting target locations to aircraft and ground strike forces.”

Northrop’s Joint STARS aircraft serves as a real-time wide area surveillance, command and control weapon system that can operate over long ranges and in adverse conditions.

The system provides battlefield commanders with real-time situational data while simultaneously transmitting target locations to aircraft and ground strike forces.

USAF Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Digital Directorate C2ISR Division senior materiel leader colonel David Menke said: “This upgrade is a win for the necessary investment to modernise the E-8C fleet.

“Central computer fielding will improve mission system performance and ultimately improve warfighter battlefield advantage.”

The USAF’s first computer replacement programme was completed in 2001 when engineers from Northrop Grumman integrated and installed commercial off-the-shelf technology into the aircraft’s weapon system.

The project helped reduce the aircraft weight significantly to save fuel costs while incorporating additional mission processing capability at affordable costs.