Joint STARS resumes re-engining program

HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass: The 751st Electronic Systems Group has successfully resumed the system design and development phase of the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System re-engining program with the award of two large contract actions.
The E-8C Joint STARS is an airborne battle management command and controland intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform based upon the Boeing 707-300 airframe. The aircraft utilizes the APY-7 radar to provide commanders Ground Moving Target Indicator and Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery of the battlefield. The re-engining program aims to upgrade the current TF-33 engines with Pratt and Whitney JT8D-219 engines.

"The new engines are predicted to meet operational requirements with more persistent operations above 34,000 feet, increased mission duration, and increased take-off weight," said Maj. Chris Cherry, 633rd Electronic Systems Squadron re-engining program manager. "Since thenew engines will replace 1960s-era TF-33 engines, we also anticipate significantly reduced maintenance and improved reliability as well as increased fuel efficiency, leading to improved benefits for the warfighter."
Two re-engining contract efforts facilitated the restart of the program. The Phase IA effort involves the procurement of engines. Phase II is the expansion of an effort to continue design, testing anddevelopment work associated with the new engines.
On Feb. 9, Electronic Systems Center officials definitized a $223.6 million contract to Northrop Grumman Corp., for two production shipsets of engines, which include four JT8D-219 engines and the associated pylons and cowlings for each E-8C aircraft. It also includes all work efforts necessary to obtain the FAA certification for this type of engine to be used on a 707-300 aircraft.
On Feb. 25, the expanded Phase II effort was awarded to Northrop Grumman Corp. with $60 million added to the contract. This contract includes flight testing, data capture for flight simulators, modified air certification, pneumatic system development, training, logistics, flight manuals and logistics design efforts.
These contracts resume a program effort that had slowed during the summer of 2009 when several issues arose.
"Concerns about long-term fleet viability and program cost growth led to a delay in execution and outright halt of portions of the program in August," said Maj. Kevin Massie, commander of the633rd. "In late September, after being presented with several options, the Air Force directed the continuation of the Re-engining System Design and Development phase, with the intention of moving toward a Milestone C decision for production of the remaining E-8C engine shipsets in fiscal 2012."
The Air Force SDD decision was reinforced by an Acquisition Decision Memorandum released on Sept. 30, 2009, by the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics that designated Joint STARS a special interest program and directed the continuation of the re-engining SDD program.
At the completion of the SDD program in 2012, the Joint STARS re-engining program will proceed to a full production decision. This full production decision will be aided by the results of an ongoing Air Force Analysis of Alternatives for the Joint STARS mission area as well as results of E-8C Service Life Studies recommended by the Air Force Fleet Viability Board.
The AoA effort is being led by Air Combat Command specialists and will explore multiple alternatives for the GMTI, BMC2 and associated communications missions currently performed by the E-8C.
Officials with the 633rd ELSS, in partnership with the Joint STARS sustainment manager from the 577th Aircraft Sustainment Squadron at Robins AFB, Ga., is conducting several study efforts recommended by the FVB to support determination of the service life -- the safe, military utility life -- of the E-8C platform.
"As the Air Force looks toward the future of the Joint STARS, the program office has been working diligently the past few months to re-plan and execute funding actions to ensure the SDD can be completed," Major Massie said. "With a strong team effort involving our program management, contracting, financial management and engineering team members, as well as outstanding working relationships with our ACC and Air Staff counterparts, we were able to put a funding path and plans in place to get re-engining back on track."

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