In It for the Long Haul

A recently updated Air Force study examining the viability of the airframes of the E-8C Joint STARS ground surveillance aircraft indicates that the E-8C fleet could stay in service beyond 2070, Northrop Grumman, lead contractor for the platform, announced July 9. “The Air Force has made a significant investment in airframe refurbishment during the production of each E-8C,” said Dale Burton, Northrop Grumman vice president for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and battle management command and control. “Now the E-8C fleet is in excellent health and is well positioned to be a viable ISR platform for many years to come.” Initially completed in 2004, USAF’s analysis was updated using data collected over the past four years, the company said. The Air Force is adding new engines to the Joint STARS fleet and installing improvements such as broadband communications. It is also considering adding a sophisticated new tracking radar.