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The Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) is a United States Air Force Airborne ground surveillance, battle management and command and control aircraft. It tracks ground vehicles and some aircraft, collects imagery, and relays tactical pictures to ground and air theater commanders
The E-8C is an aircraft modified from the Boeing 707-300 series commercial airliner. The E-8 carries specialized radar, communications, operations and control subsystems. The most prominent external feature is the 40 ft (12 m) canoe-shaped radome under the forward fuselage that houses the 24 ft (7.3 m) side-looking APY-7 passive electronically scanned array antenna. The E-8C can respond quickly and effectively to support worldwide military contingency operations. It is a jam-resistant system capable of operating while experiencing heavy electronic countermeasures. The E-8C can fly a mission profile for 9 hours without refueling. Its range and on-station time can be substantially increased through in-flight refueling.
Air Force procurement documents call for a replacement for the Boeing 707-based E-8C as a "business jet class" airframe that is "significantly smaller and more efficient." Current pre-decisional requirements are for an aircraft with a 10-13 person crew with a 3.96–6.1 m (13.0–20.0 ft) radar array. Though smaller than the crew and radar size of the E-8C, it could be challenging to meet those demands in a typical business jet and could require a relatively large platform. The staffing and sensor requirements are comparable to the cancelled Northrop Grumman E-10 MC2A, which was originally planned as the E-8's replacement. The Air Force plans to award a contract at the end of FY 2016, a relatively quick pace partly to avoid budget redistributions to other programs. Replacing the E-8C avoids nearly $11 billion in operations and sustainment costs needed to keep the fleet relevant and airworthy. The aircraft is to fly at 38,000 ft for eight hours.
originally posted by: Zaphod58
a reply to: TonyS
Most of the money has gone into the new radar. The plan is to develop the radar, and to test as many bugs out of it before it ever gets installed on the aircraft. Both Raytheon and Northrop are developing a radar, and the bidding teams can choose between them.