The Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) is the premier airborne command, control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C2ISR) platform for the U.S. Air Force’s air-to-ground battle management and surveillance operations. The platform provides long endurance, all-weather surveillance, and targeting of moving and stationary targets, helping U.S. and allied forces shorten the attack and decision chain.
As a battle management asset, the E-8C supports the full spectrum of roles and missions from peacekeeping to forward deployed operations. Warfighters use the platform to detect, locate, classify, track and target hostile ground/surface movements, communicating real-time information through secure data links with command posts.
The platform has accrued more than 100,000 combat hours in support of operations in Kuwait, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. Joint STARS frequently operates in hot spots around the world, supporting military, disaster relief, peacekeeping, and counter-drug operations.
On February 25, Northrop Grumman successfully completed an exchange of radar data during a flight test involving Joint STARS and the U.S. Air Force’s RQ-4B Global Hawk Block 40 unmanned aircraft system. The exchange is the first collaborative effort to stream ground moving target radar data from a Global Hawk Block 40 to a Joint STARS aircraft. Information can then be relayed from Joint STARS to ground forces.
Combining the capabilities of these platforms unlocks increased battle management potential, not only by expanding coverage of the surveillance area, but also for compressing the targeting and attack decision chain for warfighters.
Recently the Air Force also successfully installed, tested and fielded the first of its Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio System, or MIDS JTRS, terminals. This accomplishment makes Joint STARS the first Air Force airborne system to retrofit new terminals that will improve warfighter communication.