"The capabilities of the U.S. Air Force's E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System -- Joint STARS -- platform may be enhanced with the addition of a Wide Area Surveillance -- WAS -- Multi-platform Radar Technology Insertion Program -- MP-RTIP -- radar," the company said in a statement last week.
Northrop Grumman said it was "actively pursuing options with the Air Force."
"The U.S. Congress has expressed interest in fielding on Joint STARS a viable cruise missile defense capability such as that offered by the WAS MP-RTIP radar," the company said.
"The WAS MP-RTIP sensor is a modular active electronically scanned array radar system that can be scaled in size for integration into the Joint STARS platform," Northrop Grumman said.
"This is a fiscally sound and cost-effective move," said Dave Nagy, Northrop Grumman vice president for Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance programs. "It meets the war fighter's need for a battle management command and control and a cruise missile defense capability and addresses the looming reduction in manufacturing sources for the current Joint STARS sensor."
Lockheed Martin said the E-8C Joint STARS aircraft is an exclusively maintained Northrop Grumman-modified Boeing 707-300 series commercial aircraft that detects, locates, classifies, tracks and targets hostile ground movements, communicating real-time information through secure data links.
"This critical upgrade will address improved battle management, command and control in manned airborne surveillance platforms," said Gary Ervin, corporate vice president and president-elect of Northrop Grumman's Integrated Systems sector. "Adding the MP-RTIP radar, proven in tests aboard the Global Hawk to Joint STARS, brings a versatile, proven, high performer to our manned system capabilities, and we look forward to the benefits this technology can offer our armed services."
MP-RTIP radar enhancement will further thrust the Joint STARS platform into the future. "The transition of MP-RTIP to Joint STARS is feasible, and it's the right thing to do," said Nagy. "When coupled with ongoing upgrade programs, including improved communications, networking and new engines, the result will be a tremendously powerful ISR asset for the war fighter."