Northrop Grumman wins $325m Joint STARS support contract

Northrop Grumman has received a US$325m contract from the US Air Force (USAF) to provide continued support for the service’s E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) fleet.

The company announced the contract award on January 13, adding that it “executes the Total System Support Responsibility (TSSR) programme” for the USAF’s fleet of 16 E-8C Joint STARS aircraft. Under which, Northrop Grumman will serve as the prime systems integrator for supporting and sustaining the airborne battle management; command and control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C2ISR) platform.

E-8C Joint STARS [Northrop Grumman]
Northrop Grumman was awarded a US$325m contract by the USAF to provide continued support and sustainment services for the E-8C Joint STARS fleet under the Total System Support Responsibility (TSSR) programme on January 13, 2021. Northrop Grumman

The TSSR contract provides for programme management, engineering technical support, aircrew and maintenance training, supply chain and spares management, technical data and publications, programme depot maintenance and overall customer support services for the Joint STARS fleet. Work under the deal will be undertaken by Northrop Grumman in Warner Robins, Georgia; Lake Charles, Louisiana; and, Melbourne, Florida.

Janice Zilch, vice president of Manned Airborne Surveillance Programs at Northrop Grumman, said: “We remain fully committed to delivering essential services for Joint STARS that Northrop Grumman uniquely provides to our warfighters. The overall modification and sustainment work will ensure continuous safety and system readiness for the E-8C fleet against evolving threat environments.”

Northrop Grumman’s E-8C Joint STARS platform entered operational service with the USAF in 1996, although early examples of the E-8A variant had served with the air arm since 1991. Based on Boeing’s 707-300 commercial airliner, the E-8C’s primary mission is to provide ground surveillance in support of attack and targeting operations that contribute to the delay, disruption and destruction of adversary forces.


E-8C Joint STARS [Northrop Grumman]
The USAF currently operates a fleet of 16 E-8Cs, primarily from Robins AFB in Georgia. In 2019, the service announced that it intends to replace its ageing E-8C Joint STARS aircraft with the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) family of platforms. Northrop Grumman

In a press release, the firm added that Joint STARS delivers a real-time battle management situational awareness and wide-area search capability that is essential to the warfighter. “It combines high fidelity wide-area moving target detection, synthetic aperture radar imagery and robust battle management systems to locate, classify and track surface targets in all weather conditions from stand-off distances,” it said.

The USAF’s E-8C Joint STARS fleet is operated by the 116th and 461st Air Control Wings (ACWs) from Robins Air Force Base (AFB), Georgia, as well as at forward operating locations across the globe. The 461st ACW serves as the air arm’s sole active-duty E-8C employer, while the 116th is the only Air National Guard wing that flies the Joint STARS platform.