Following its retirement from operational use, the USAF’s sole Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) training aircraft has been donated to the Sowela Technical Community College in Lake Charles, Louisiana.
The TE-8A (86-0416/GA) was flown to Lake Charles’ Chennault International Airport and handed over to the college during a ceremony held on September 19. This aircraft was the second of three developmental airframes for the USAF’s JSTARS programme and was acquired by Northrop Grumman from Qantas – Australia’s largest airline and flag carrier – after flying more than 51,600 flight hours. The Boeing 707-338C first flew in its JSTARS configuration while still wearing a civil registration (N770JS) on December 22, 1988.
While the platform was still under development, it was pressed into service during Operation Desert Storm in January 1991, during which it flew 49 combat sorties. Since then, the JSTARS fleet has flown 137,000 combat flight hours in support of US military and allied forces during Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, Odyssey Dawn and Unified Protector. For the past three years, the Georgia Air National Guard’s (ANG’s) 166th Air Control Wing (ACW) and the USAF’s 461st ACW have been operating from Ramstein Air Base in Germany. Northrop Grumman delivered 17 production-standard E-8Cs to the USAF between 1996 and 2005.