The Joint STARS program is adapting and learning from many of the technologies that were invested in the now-defunct E-10, according to Northrop Grumman ISR VP Dave Nagy. A key element from the E-10 is the large aperture radar that will be scaled down by about 15 inches or so to fit inside the radar “canoe” under the forward fuselage of the E-8. “The [E-10] investment is definitely not lost,” Nagy said. Other capabilities being leveraged include the work done on the console designs and command and control for the E-10, capitalizing on the open architecture approach. The JSTARS program is also moving forward on advanced airborne networking technologies, an “IP address in the sky” as Nagy called it. The company is working on a beyond-line-of-sight update to a early concept called the Interim Capability for Airborne Networking (ICAN), using INMARSAT to buff up connectivity between ISR platforms in the air and commanders on the ground. Northrop also expects to see the MP-RTIP radar in the Fiscal 2010 program objective memorandum, Nagy added. (A month ago, a USAF official only acknowledged it was a consideration.) There are funds for the radar allotted in the 2008 supplemental, and he believes that the Hill will support the program. The JSTARS office is also gathering data gleaned from efforts to integrate a smaller version of the MP-RTIP onto the high-flying Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle.
Robins Air Force Base, Ga., has completed two environmental reviews, clearing the way for new construction to support the bases four new missions sets, which will replace the E-8 Joint STARS mission that has defined the base for decades.