Lockheed Martin’s JSTARS Recap Team

Lockheed Martin has teamed with Raytheon and Bombardier to offer a successor to the Air Force’s E-8C JSTARS, the company announced Tuesday. The system would be hosted on the Bombardier Global Express aircraft, which is the basis for USAF’s E-11 Battlefield Airborne Communications Node (BACN) jet. Raytheon will supply the ground surveillance radar, other sensors, mission systems integration, and communications; Lockheed will be the lead system integrator. Even though USAF has said it just wants comparable capability—but at lower operating cost—Lockheed said its system will be low-cost and low-risk, yet still offer better performance than the current JSTARS. The company also said it will “deliver a true open system architecture to allow the government to own the technical baseline” and compete future upgrades. The Global Express aircraft can allow “the onboard radar to see further and deeper into valleys” and stay aloft longer than the E-8C without refueling, Lockheed asserted. The Air Force last year ditched a JSTARS upgrade, concluding that through 2045, a business jet-derived platform would be about $11 billion cheaper to operate than the 1970s-vintage 707s of the E-8C fleet. USAF is using the savings from taking some E-8Cs out of service to pay for the new program. It says the program is its fourth-highest acquisition priority, and wants the first replacement aircraft by 2023. (See also The JSTARS Recap from the February 2015 issue of Air Force Magazine.)