Military Embedded Systems

Northrop Grumman's re-engined E-8C Joint STARS passes the test


May 24, 2012

Alice Moss

Military Embedded Systems

The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS), loaded with a new propulsion system dubbed “JT-8D,” recently achieved success in its flight testing, Northrop Grumman reports. The accomplishment means the distance is narrowing between existence as an E-8C testbed aircraft versus being an aircraft with Military Airworthiness Certification.

Propulsion-system data analysis, flight tests, and approval are essential to Military Airworthiness Certification, which “opens the door for the operational aircraft fleet to be outfitted with new engines,” according to the Northrop Grumman website. The new engine’s purpose is to provide higher maximum altitudes, longer time-on-station, and increased takeoff performance, for increased fuel efficiency and expanded capability.

The company cites the past Propulsion Pod System development and installation – consisting of 808 tests – as having contributed to the recent testbed success, which success occurred in 32 flights rather than the originally anticipated 39.

E-8C Joint STARS melds synthetic aperture radar imagery and wide-area detection of shifting targets to help the military track and classify ground targets at standoff distances and in any weather conditions. Joint STARS can additionally simultaneously send to both ground strike forces and military aircraft the locations of targets while proffering real-time situational awareness to battlefield commanders.

The USAF received the first working E-8C Joint STARS in 1996, with the most recent such aircraft delivered in 2005. E-8C Joint STARS has nearly achieved 80,000 combat hours, including support in Iraq (Operation New Dawn), Libya (Operation Odyssey Dawn), and Afghanistan (Operation Enduring Freedom), in addition to Southeast Asia theater operations support.


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