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The US Air Force (USAF) has awarded an E-8C joint surveillance target attack radar system (Joint STARS) support contract, worth $349.6m, to Northrop Grumman.

The 12-month agreement covers Total System Support Responsibility (TSSR) Period Year 18 between 1 November 2017 and 31 October 2018.

It was awarded with an aim to maximise Joint STARS availability for operational and training use, as well as reducing programme cost.

Under the Joint STARS TSSR contract, Northrop and the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center will jointly provide integrated logistics support to the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings (ACW) for sustainment and support of the Joint STARS fleet at Robins Air Force Base and forward-operating locations overseas.

The contract also covers programme management, engineering technical support, supply chain and spares management, aircrew training, technical data, and customer support.

Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems manned C2ISR programme director Bryan Lima said: “Our 32-year Joint STARS partnership with the airforce provides us with an in-depth understanding of this powerful mission domain.

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“Over several decades, we have responded to this ever-evolving battlespace by affordably adding 27 different capabilities.

“Over several decades, we have responded to this ever-evolving battlespace by affordably adding 27 different capabilities.”

“We continue to collaborate closely with our customer to keep the high-demand E-8C fleet available and mission capable ahead of emerging threats to support our combatant commanders.”

Joint STARS is said to be the only platform in the US arsenal that offers accurate wide-area moving target detection and synthetic aperture radar imagery to locate, classify and track ground targets in all weather conditions from standoff distances.

It offers battlefield commanders real-time situational information, while simultaneously transmitting target locations to aircraft and ground strike forces.

The Joint STARS fleet has recorded more than 130,000 combat mission hours in support of CENTCOM since 11 September 2001.