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An air force programme to recapitalise the timeworn Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS, is moving forward with the Pentagon’s blessing after receiving “Milestone A” approval from the US military’s top weapons buyer last week.
The long-awaited and much debated acquisition decision clears the JSTARS Recap programme to begin maturing key technologies and reducing programme risk in earnest ahead of a formal competition expected in 2017.
The approval – signed by Department of Defence (DOD) acquisition chief Frank Kendall on 10 December – comes after considerable debate, with some within the DOD arguing against JSTARS, in favour of more dependence on other platforms for radar surveillance and target tracking, like the unmanned Northrop RQ-4 Global Hawk Block 40.