JT-8D-219s Breathe Life Into Old Airframe
The US Air Force E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar
System (Joint STARS) test bed aircraft took to the air Saturday,
powered by new Pratt & Whitney JT-8D-219 engines. This flight
marks the start of Northrop Grumman's E-8C-specific military
airworthiness certification test program, which will last into next
Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the Joint STARS, a
modified commercial aircraft that detects, locates, classifies,
tracks and targets hostile ground movements, communicating
real-time information through secure data links.
"We are another step closer to the benefits these new engines
bring to our troops," said Tom Vice, vice president, Eastern
Region, of Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. "The
increased operational efficiencies inherent in this design
translate to less money spent in maintenance and more time flying.
Joint STARS will climb faster, fly higher, and require fewer
inflight refuelings, which all translate to more time on station,
providing valuable information to our ground troops. We are
committed to providing this new capability to the warfighter as
soon as possible."
Joint STARS uses a sophisticated radar system that can scan an
entire region and then send the data to a computer which analyzes
movement and alerts reconnaissance specialists of any suspicious
activity in near-real time. Operators onboard the aircraft can
provide ground and air commanders with command and control,
intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance information on
ground-based enemy activities from hundreds of miles away.
With the ability to see vehicle movement around the clock and in
any weather conditions, the system provides invaluable information
to ground and air commanders that allow friendly forces to delay,
disrupt and destroy their enemy.
The reliability, fuel efficiency and increased operational
effectiveness inherent in the engine upgrade translates to
increased Joint STARS availability to the warfighter and decreased
costs. Replacing all of the engines in the Joint STARS fleet will
pay for itself through the reduced operation and maintenance costs
of the current engines.
The new engines can also provide added power generation for
future upgrades to the radar sensor and mission equipment. A recent
Air Force study indicated the fleet could stay in service beyond
2050 because of the investment made when the airframes were
refurbished during production.