Gulfstream, Northrop Urge Faster Action on JSTARS Recap

Savannah, Ga. The Air Force plans to award a contract for engineering, manufacturing, and development of its next-generation JSTARS in 2017, but some contractors are pressing the service to move faster. One group, led by Gulfstream and Northrop Grumman, said they are to going to move forward with a proposal now. The team, one of three vying for a contract to recapitalize the JSTARS fleet, has been testing a prototype for years, and flew a team of reporters to the Gulfstream production facility on Wednesday in Savannah, Ga., to display the maturity of the program. Northrop has a prototype Gulfstream 550 aircraft, outfitted with a radar canoe and several sensors and radars, that has been in testing and company officials say their version—with a range of almost 7,000 nautical miles and cruising altitude of 51,000 feet—?is ready for the Air Force. The prototype can fit 10 operators, down from the current E-8C requirement of 18, and though Gulfstream has never produced an aircraft with in-flight refueling capability, officials say they can engineer that into an aircraft. “We can go a lot faster” than the Air Force’s schedule, Northrop’s vice president and integrated product team lead Alan Metzger said at the Gulfstream facility. The team is going against Boeing’s planned modified 737 and a joint effort by Bombardier and Lockheed Martin centered on a Bombardier Global 6000 bizjet. A Defense Acquisition Board meeting on the contract is expected soon. (See also The JSTARS Recap from the February issue of Air Force Magazine.)