The Busy, and Improving, Joint STARS

Northrop Grumman’s Joint Surveillance Attack Radar System Program Vice President Dave Nagy notes that the Air Force’s 17-aircraft-strong airborne surveillance battle management system fleet has already logged more than 15,000 combat hours in Southwest Asia. With plans on the books to keep the aircraft in the inventory through 2035, Nagy said, upgrades to the E-8C are progressing. The Force 21 Battle Command Brigade and Below capability was fast-tracked by DOD to improve the ability of combat forces to pinpoint the location and movement of friendly forces, and the Interim Capability for Airborne Networking turns Joint STARS into a “IP address in the sky,” according to Nagy. The capability digitally connects aircraft and CAOC personnel to rapidly produce information such as overlaid maps and work in “chat rooms” that are outside of the traditional two-way communication mode.