Tag Archives: JSTARS

JSTARS Recapitalization

Lockheed Martin is pleased to announce that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has joined the Skunk Works Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) Recapitalization (Recap) team, which currently includes Bombardier and Raytheon, bringing greater value to the partnership, and the team’s ability to deliver a premier solution to the U.S. Air Force.

The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works-led team delivers a low-risk, affordable solution for the United States Air Force’s JSTARS Recap program (LM image)
The Lockheed Martin Skunk Works-led team delivers a low-risk, affordable solution for the United States Air Force’s JSTARS Recap program (LM image)

SNC, which previously qualified as a prime contractor candidate for the U.S. Air Force’s JSTARS Recap program, will perform modifications to Bombardier’s Global 6000 aircraft, and will help obtain the necessary airworthiness certifications from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and U.S. Air Force. This strategic partnership further enhances this powerful industry team to provide a system that will drive cost-savings, schedule and performance efficiencies for the U.S. Air Force.

«We are extremely pleased to combine forces with the Lockheed Martin-led team», said Ralph Pollitt, senior vice president of SNC’s Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) business area. «We look forward to contributing to the team’s success by applying decades of experience in modifying and certifying commercial and military aircraft for a wide-variety of users around the globe».

Lockheed Martin is the lead systems integrator for the program, while Raytheon brings its experience with ground surveillance, ISR systems, and JSTARS communications. Bombardier will provide its ultra-long-range Global 6000 business jet platform, which is less expensive to operate than modern airliners and is uniquely suited to the JSTARS Recap mission.

«SNC shares our team’s vision and commitment to our warfighters», said Andrew Adams, vice president of Advanced Systems, Lockheed Martin Skunk Works. «Together we will deliver a system that offers the optimum solution – quickly and affordably».

Recapitalization program

The Air Force is well on its way to replacing a critical airborne battle management command and control weapon system with the December 28, 2016, release of the development request for proposal, or RFP, for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS Recapitalization program.

An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System from the 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron lands at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar after a mission on September 12, 2016 (U.S. Air Force file photo)
An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System from the 7th Expeditionary Airborne Command and Control Squadron lands at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar after a mission on September 12, 2016 (U.S. Air Force file photo)

The JSTARS is a key warfighting asset that provides airborne battle management command and control of joint and coalition forces, as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information about ground movements to detect and track enemy forces. JSTARS first flew in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and has been a high-demand airborne command and control asset ever since its initial entry into the U.S. military arsenal.

The release of the RFP follows receipt of an Acquisition Decision Memorandum, or ADM, signed by the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics on September 7, 2016.

«I can’t say enough about the outstanding effort by the entire Recapitalization team in reaching this important phase in the program», said Colonel Dave Learned, the JSTARS Recapitalization team program manager. «With the release of the RFP, we are keeping the Recapitalization program on track for successful delivery of a critical warfighting capability».

The RFP includes all aspects of the system, including the airframe, radar, communication systems and battle management command and control suite. The RFP will result in the delivery of three Engineering and Manufacturing Development, or EMD, JSTARS Recapitalization weapon systems for testing. There are also contract options for low-rate initial production for two more weapon systems and full-rate production of lots #1-3 for four additional weapon systems each, for a total of 17 aircraft.

In addition, options are included for ground support systems, such as training systems, mission planning and processing systems, system integration labs, support equipment and spares.

The Recapitalization program recently completed an 11-month pre-EMD effort with Northrop Grumman Corp., Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin. According to program officials, these activities helped assess the maturity of subsystem technology, reduced weapon system integration risk and provided information for the RFP.

Ongoing program work includes radar risk reduction efforts with contractors Northrop Grumman Corp. Mission Systems and Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems are pursuing nonrecurring hardware and software engineering activities to ensure radars are scaled to meet JSTARS Recapitalization specific requirements.

«We’ve completed successful pre-EMD efforts with industry and continue to make progress on our radar risk reduction activities», said Learned. «Thanks to the amazing work by our team, the program is well-positioned for a successful EMD phase. But what’s really exciting is how that paves the way for us being able to equip operators with a weapon system that will be more efficient and reliable than the current system».

This proposal solicitation will be a full and open competition with an anticipated contract award in fiscal year 2018, to have assets available for initial operational capability by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024.

«Through significant effort by the Recapitalization team, and valuable feedback from industry, as well as Air Force and OSD leadership, we now have our final Development RFP out for industry competition», said Sueann Lachance, JSTARS Recapitalization Development RFP Program Management lead. «We’re excited to see official proposals».

Recapitalizing JSTARS

For more than two decades, the Air Force’s Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) has provided valuable Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) to commanders by detecting, locating and tracking enemy ground forces from afar. Identified as the service’s fourth largest acquisition priority, the JSTARS weapon system is currently undergoing a major recapitalization – including its radar.

Flight engineer Technical Sergeant Bo Sullivan, 7th Expeditionary Air Combat and Control Squadron Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System crew member, prepares to take off on a mission over Iraq (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sergeant Aaron Allmon)
Flight engineer Technical Sergeant Bo Sullivan, 7th Expeditionary Air Combat and Control Squadron Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System crew member, prepares to take off on a mission over Iraq (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sergeant Aaron Allmon)

«JSTARS has the unique ability to provide a wide-area surveillance capability from long standoff ranges that would otherwise require the use of many smaller assets to perform the same mission – and the radar plays an integral part in that role», said Brian Carr, JSTARS Recapitalization Radar deputy IPT lead.

The existing system is armed with a multitude of sensors, antennas and a large 27-foot/8.2-meter radome; however, it’s the radar’s Ground Moving Target Indicator, or GMTI, and Synthetic Aperture Radar, or SAR, which enables the system’s ISR mission. GMTI is used to locate and track moving ground targets, and SAR is used to image stationary targets of interest. In addition, JSTARS is equipped with a PESA – short for Passive Electronically Scanned Array – antenna that can tilt to either side of the aircraft, resulting in a wide field of view that spans across thousands of square miles.

«Although the JSTARS radar was state-of-the-art when it was developed, technology has advanced significantly since its introduction in 1991», Carr said. «JSTARS Recapitalization is poised to leverage the technological advancements that have lowered the cost and enabled the use of Active Electronically Scanned Array, or AESA, radars».

AESAs are currently the primary type of phased array radar used by the U.S. Air Force. The use of a modern AESA radar will allow the JSTARS Recap to meet mission performance standards while operating on a much smaller business-class jet airframe.

AESA radars differ from the PESAs of yesteryear in several ways. By eliminating the PESA’s complex power distribution network, AESAs reduce signal loss and increase radar sensitivity. Both characteristics enhance detection capability and reduce the effects of a smaller aperture. Also, AESA radars allow for digital beam forming, which enables a number of advanced signal processing techniques.

In addition to incorporating an AESA-type radar into the JSTARS platform, the program office is also focusing on an open systems architecture approach with many of its components. By embracing open systems architecture, the U.S. Air Force hopes to ensure a competitive sustainment environment for future hardware and software upgrades.

«An open system architecture will provide Recap the flexibility to handle evolving and emerging technology at a reduced lifecycle cost», Carr said. «We are ensuring the warfighter will have the most capable system possible over its lifecycle at the best value».

Risk reduction efforts for the airframe, battle management command and control suite, communication systems and radar continue to gain momentum as the program officially reached a Milestone A decision December 10, 2015. Milestone A will allow program officials to exercise approximately $45 million in options on three separate pre-engineering, manufacturing and development contracts; the contract options cover system functional reviews, preliminary design reviews and subsystem prototype demonstrations over the next six months.

«Milestone A wouldn’t have happened without the full support and teamwork between the U.S. Air Force, OSD and our industry partners», said Colonel Dave Learned, JSTARS Recap senior materiel leader. «Bringing together our government and industry teams for this effort is a major step toward recapitalizing E-8C’s combat-proven capabilities».