Upgraded Joint STARS Capable of Tracking Dismounted Targets

Roughly a year’s time and $5 million have given Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System the new ability to track “dismounted targets,” combining this new ability with a dramatically expanded capacity to transmit Ground Moving Target Information to “customers” on the ground. According to a program update by contractor Northrop Grumman, Joint STARS aircraft are being upgraded under an urgent operational requirement, in response to irregular warfare requirements in Afghanistan. Northrop evaluated the E-8C’s extant radar, implementing minimal changes to software and detection thresholds, enabling it to track human-sized “dismounted” targets, as well as the larger vehicle-sized targets it was designed for. A new satellite data link augments this capacity with the ability to transmit GMTI via secure SIPRNET, cutting processing and dissemination from approximately 18 hours to near real-time availability.