Boeing Confident 737 Is Right Fit for JSTARS Recap

Le Bourget, France Despite USAF’s insistence on a smaller business-class aircraft for the next generation JSTARS, Boeing believes a 737-derivative will provide the space, power, range, and low costs per flying hour for a competitive E-8 successor. “When you look at a business jet, it’s not much shorter tail to nose than a 737,” Jeff Johnson, Boeing’s vice president for business development for military aircraft sales, told Air Force Magazine at the Paris Air Show. Johnson said he’s not sure the “level of miniaturization” of key sensor technology needed for a smaller JSTARS will be low-risk enough by 2023 when USAF expects to reach initial operational capability. A 737-based JSTARS offering, however, would have more than 800 square feet of floor space, allowing more area for systems crew, cooling, and fuel space for extra range, he added. “Sometimes in warfare you need long endurance,” Johnson said, noting Australian E-7A Wedgetails have recently flown 16-hour missions in the Middle East. “When you look at what that 737 gets you, in that combined [ISR and battle management] mission, we’re excited and ready to prove it.” Johnson said the Navy’s P-8, which was adapted from the 737, is beginning to show real cost-per-flight-hour benefits, and with over 5,500 737s flying around the world today, mostly in service with commercial airlines, Johnson said the company can leverage some very serious logistical tail savings. The Lockheed Martin, Bombardier, and Raytheon team plans to offer a JSTARS replacement based on the Bombardier Global Express aircraft as a JSTARS replacement.