G-550 JSTARS Compass Call

Military aircraft - Post cold war aircraft, including for example B-2, Gripen, F-18E/F Super Hornet, Rafale, and Typhoon.
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Unread post04 Aug 2017, 19:14

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... es-439741/

ANALYSIS: Gulfstream has JSTARS in its eyes

04 August, 2017
BY: Leigh Giangreco

Currently, the US Air Force is grappling with two high-value aircraft recapitalization contracts, to replace its Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) and Lockheed Martin EC-130H Compass Call fleets. For Gulfstream, capturing both deals could cement its special missions business for the coming decades. But both replacement programs are fraught with acquisition delays and industry squabbles.

JSTARS

On the JSTARS side, the USAF has dragged its feet for years on a replacement aircraft. After battling other services on the need to replace its current Boeing 707-based E-8Cs with a manned jet, rather than an unmanned ISR platform, it finally appeared to have put the program on track last year. For these electronic warfare platforms, Gulfstream has some notable international experience. G550s are used by several air forces as VIP transports, but both Italy and Israel operate conformal airborne early warning variants. Israel, two operates a pair of G550s called “Shavit”, with special electronic missions payloads partly accommodated by the sort of belly canoe which characterizes the USAF’s E-8C JSTARS fleet. The JSTARS recapitalization is slated to reach initial operational capability by 2024, and the USAF is scheduled to award a contract in fiscal year 2018. In July, Gulfstream revealed that its JSTARS offering would include a refueling nozzle mounted on the G550’s nose. However, the company has also considered the more conventional refueling position on the aircraft’s crown, so the nose design is subject to change. The G550 would not be alone in its nose-mounted design; both the USAF’s Fairchild Republic A-10 and Boeing B-1 have similar receptacles. No Gulfstream aircraft has been certified for air-to-air refueling, but the air force requires the capability for the JSTARS ground surveillance mission. Current Gulfstream aircraft store fuel in the wings, rather than a separate bladder or tank.

During a July media day in Savannah, Gulfstream officials pushed the G550 as the ideal solution for the both the air force’s JSTARS and Compass Call missions, but did not reach into as much detail as during a 2015 JSTARS media blitz. During a tour two years ago, Gulfstream and its prime contractor for the JSTARS competition, Northrop, showed off a modified G550 with a large belly canoe with room for radar sensors. While Gulfstream generally looks to re-use existing canoe designs, it is likely that a new design will be chosen for the JSTARS mission.

Compass Call

Meanwhile, the Compass Call replacement program has proceeded in fits and starts as a changing USAF acquisition strategy has come under fire. The service is proposing a so-called “cross-deck” plan to transplant mission equipment from legacy EC-130H aircraft into new airframes. It initially wanted to move to a G550-based platform, but last year competitors including Boeing and Bombardier demanded an open competition for the replacement. So the air force changed strategy earlier this year, abandoning its push for a sole-source award to Gulfstream, and instead named L3 Technologies as the systems integrator for the Compass Call cross-deck effort. However, that plan failed to satisfy Boeing and Bombardier, which argued that a history of partnerships between L3 and Gulfstream would secure the aircraft award for their rival regardless. As Boeing put it in a 25 May statement: “The air force's approach is inconsistent with Congress's direction in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act and seems to ignore inherent and obvious conflicts of interest. We believe that the US Air Force and taxpayer would be best served by a fair and open competition, and that the air force can still meet its stated timeline of replacing the ageing fleet of EC-130Hs within 10 years.” Notably, according to USAF documents both the Boeing 737 and Bombardier Global 6000 miss the requirement marks for Compass Call. The mission requires a total cargo capacity of 9,080kg (20,000lb), including 5,900kg of prime mission equipment. But in the Global 6000's battlefield airborne communications node configuration, its payload capacity is “marginally insufficient”, the service says. It has also noted that Bombardier’s offering does not meet aperture requirements without modification, and would require a supplemental type certification that could incur up to $180 million in additional costs and a three-year schedule delay. Boeing’s 737 would be forced to burn significant fuel to reach its maximum 41,000ft altitude, trading loiter time for height, and is unable to meet both needs, the USAF says.

G550

Inside Gulfstream’s special mission modification facility in Savannah, Georgia, two green aircraft are bulking up – from sleek private business jets to action-ready military configurations. With their seasick pallor, the G550s have an almost Frankenstein quality as their iconic oval windows are closed up, noses are flung open and tails are stripped away to prepare for more robust missions. For 50 years, Gulfstream has been doing this type of conversion of its business jets into special mission aircraft, starting with the delivery of a modified Gulfstream I for the US Navy’s bombardier and navigation training mission. Since then, the company’s special mission portfolio has expanded into executive airlift, medical evacuation, transport, airborne early warning and control, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR). More than 2,500 Gulfstream jets fly around the world, including 207 built for special missions in 39 countries, counting 70 supporting the US government.

Troy Miller, Gulfstream’s vice-president of special mission sales, and Leda Chong, senior vice-president of government programs and sales, hail the smaller business jet as more nimble – while characterizing airliner-based offerings as cumbersome. Miller emphasizes the G550’s higher altitude, comparing a traditional airliner certified to fly at 41,000ft with a Gulfstream’s 51,000ft capability, and argues that large engines hanging off an airliner's wing could affect the aircraft’s field of view. “One of the biggest issues is terrain blockage,” Miller says. “That additional 10,000ft can make a huge difference in identifying enemy forces that are using mountains or rugged terrain to mask their movements. The radars themselves are able to perform at higher altitudes, and because of additional line of sight they can do more collection.” Both Gulfstream and its competitors have argued that size matters for the JSTARS and Compass Call missions, but while airliner manufacturers are pitching “room for growth” as a selling point for their platforms, Gulfstream argues that those aircraft simply provide excess space. “One of the advantages of being smaller: I can be closer to the area of interest,” Miller says. “There is a significant number of airfields, for which the air force and navy evaluate annually, that business jets can operate from and airliners cannot.” .....

Back inside the modification facility, the two business jets fresh from the production line are stripped of their engines, avionics and interiors. Flight controls and wing leading edges are taken away, leaving a basic, reduced-weight aircraft ready to be optimized for the special mission role, Miller explains. On one aircraft, the tail is removed and replaced with a cone to make room for sensors in the rear of the aircraft. Gulfstream also makes a significant change to the nose, which now houses heavy sensors. Part of the modification process seems redundant; bundles of wiring on business jets are removed and replaced when preparing special mission aircraft, because jets coming off the production line are all identical. That process, says Miller, is an advantage for Gulfstream, buying it the freedom to respond to a special requirement with any available aircraft. That freedom, he claims, is not available to competitors offering airliner-based products, which typically undergo some modification on the production line if destined for a special configuration. One of the more perplexing reconfigurations is the removal of Gulfstream’s patented oval windows. On almost all special mission aircraft, the heavy windows are removed to either reduce weight or use the space for a different capability. Often, the space is outfitted with purpose-made plugs with connectors on both sides which attach to sensors outside the windows, Miller says. Gulfstream continues manufacturing the jets with the windows, rather than omit them initially, since they are required for certification. The company could obtain a waiver, but Miller says designing aircraft without windows would reduce its flexibility. “It’s not a significant cost or time consideration to be able to do that [modification],” he says. All the modifications are mounted externally to the green aircraft structure, which is engineered to include mounting points and contact points for sensors. Gulfstream not only designs the outer mold line of the aircraft, but works with its customers to understand where those sensors and equipment are to be placed. “I would imagine that doing this as a third-party is even more challenging,” Miller says. “So we think it’s really important to have the same processes, people, facilities and certification flight test going on.”

Still, the actual installation and flight test of mission equipment would remain the responsibility of the prime contractor, he adds. In some cases, Gulfstream will install and fly an inert dummy resembling the shape and weight of the mission equipment, since some of the sensor work is classified and completed at the prime’s facility. But, Gulfstream remains engaged through the delivery of the aircraft and may even provide product support for the lifespan of the aircraft, ..“It’s not as if we do the group A modifications, hand the keys over to the prime and say goodbye,” ..“It’s a relationship we have with the primes and the end users for the entire lifespan of the aircraft.”

Although the USAF has emphasized that there is no connection between the JSTARS and Compass Call competitions, Gulfstream is developing a 10-year plan that could include capturing both those contracts. The company is examining where it could expand facilities and realize synergies across programs, such as by sharing tools. “We have strategic planning sessions all the time about how do we best utilize all of these assets,” Chong says. “Whether it takes the form of human resources, facilities, materials, all of that. So it’s not one or the other thing. I call it an orchestration.”
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Unread post13 Sep 2017, 01:49

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/artic ... on-441065/

USAF mulls canceling JSTARS recapitalisation

12 September, 2017
BY: Leigh Giangreco Washington DC

The US Air Force could scrap its business jet strategy in favor of an alternative platform for its Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) recapitalization, according to a recent letter sent from Congressional members to the US defense secretary. Rather than continue its JSTARS recapitalization program, the USAF’s protracted effort to replace its legacy Northrop Grumman E-8C fleet, the service is exploring alternative intelligence and surveillance platforms, according to an 8 September letter sent to Defense Secretary James Mattis. The program has progressed in fits and starts, hemorrhaging $2 billion when it was halted in 2008. “We are tremendously concerned about the possibility of any capability gap,” lawmakers wrote Mattis. “While the rationale for this decision has not been made known to us, cancelling or delaying would be ill-advised and directly impact our combatant commanders who employ this asset in theater.”

Lawmakers also learned that the USAF would undertake a new analysis of alternatives for replacing JSTARS, despite at least five previous studies which have examined the recapitalization. That decision may have been motivated by language in last year's USAF Air Superiority 2030 Flight Plan, which signaled a shift away from business jets to disaggregated systems to satisfy future advanced battle management needs. “As the Air Force moves forward with the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) AOA in 2018, it should include options for non-traditional concepts including networking planned and purpose-built sensors into architectures that enable [battle management command and control] functions in the highly contested environment,” the flight plan states. The USAF intends to continue source selection for a follow-on JSTARS aircraft while evaluating alternative approaches, the service says in a 12 September statement. Meanwhile, the service will continue flying the legacy fleet through 2023. Last March, a fuselage fatigue study indicated some aircraft could fly through 2034. “Although we are exploring options, there are many steps still to be taken before any force structure proposals are included in the FY 2019 budget,” the USAF states.

The recent letter comes as Congress prepares to vote on the fiscal year 2018 defense authorization bill, which outlines the Defense Department’s policy and budget. The JSTARS recapitalization is scheduled to reach initial operational capability by 2024, and the USAF was expected to award a contract in fiscal year 2018. This week, Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue of Georgia, which includes the USAF’s only active duty JSTARS operational squadrons at Robins Air Force Base, introduced an amendment to the National Defense Authorization bill which would prohibit the use of FY18 funds for JSTARS retirement. The amendment would also guarantee the recapitalization continues unless the defense secretary ensures that the new approach would not result in a BMC2 and ISR capability gap.
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Unread post13 Sep 2017, 02:54

I wonder if the G550s that the RAAF is acquiring will be equally fitted when they're upgraded in the 2020s:

http://australianaviation.com.au/2017/0 ... -for-raaf/

The Integrated Investment Program stated that Defence would acquire long-range electronic warfare support aircraft based on the G550 airframe with additional and modified systems from the early 2020s. The aircraft will be acquired in two tranches and incrementally upgraded to maintain commonality with US-developed systems.
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Unread post14 Sep 2017, 01:23

http://aviationweek.com/awin/navy-moves ... orne-radar

Navy Moves Forward On Advanced Airborne Radar/ Closely held Navy/Raytheon program evades competition

Jun 18, 2012 (a bit old)
BS

A full-scale development program is underway to develop a version of the U. S. Navy's Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft (MPA), fitted with a long-range, high-resolution surveillance radar. It could provide a ready-made, Navy-funded replacement for the aging Joint Stars while potentially performing maritime targeting missions. The Raytheon Advanced Airborne Sensor (AAS) project, which has been under contract since July 2009, has received Milestone B approval for development and production planning and is proceeding toward critical design review. Boeing received a $277 million contract in February to modify the first P-8A, aircraft T-1, for aerodynamic and structural tests of the AAS radar pod, which is carried under the fuselage. Those tests are to be completed by August 2016. The radar itself, a much-modernized evolutionary development of the Raytheon APS-149 Littoral Surveillance Radar System (LSRS) is to be tested on a P-3C Orion, the current carrier for the APS-149. The value of the radar development contract has not been disclosed.

The Navy's goal is to acquire an undisclosed number of AAS systems and A-kits (parts that are attached to the aircraft to support the radar) and to configure some P-8As to carry the radar. Initial operational capability dates are also secret, but Boeing/Navy P-8A briefings suggest it is likely to follow the 2016 fielding of the P-8A's Increment 2 upgrade. The P-8A radar plan has been in the works for almost a decade, but has been shrouded in secrecy because its predecessor, LSRS, was a black program—a classified and unacknowledged effort. To this day, although some AAS-related contracts have been announced, the program has no publicly visible budget. None of its elements has been competed or subjected to a formal analysis of alternatives process. AAS is managed by a one-program office, Advanced Sensor Technology, under the direction of Rear Adm. Don Gaddis, program executive officer for tactical aviation at Naval Air Systems Command. LSRS itself was developed by the former Texas Instruments unit of Raytheon, which has historically provided Navy patrol aircraft with their search radars. The program started in the late 1990s or early 2000s and attained early operational capability in 2005, carried on P-3Cs flown by patrol squadron VP-46 out of NAS Whidbey Island, Wash. After the program was mentioned (apparently accidentally) in an unclassified document, and the modified aircraft had been photographed in transit to and from the Middle East, a small amount of information was released. It is known that the LSRS P-3s have been extensively used both to support combat operations—not only for the Navy—and for tests and demonstrations, including tracking both land and maritime moving targets for engagements by stand-off missiles.

Based on active, electronically scanned array technology, LSRS has been assessed as far superior to the older APY-7 carried by Joint Stars. The antenna is double-sided, so the aircraft can scan simultaneously to left or right, and the radar can interleave ground moving target indication (GMTI) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) modes rather than being restricted to one mode at a time. AAS is expected to be more capable than LSRS, and will include new features such as NetTrack, developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, to track high-value targets—for example, key insurgent personnel and their vehicles—in high-clutter environments, by using high-range resolution radar measurements. AAS has what Boeing describes as “weapon-capability” accuracy, and Boeing illustrations and videos show aircraft directly striking ground targets with Small Diameter Bombs. However, the system could also have potential for maritime operations. In 2004, the USAF used Joint Stars to guide datalinked weapons onto ship targets in the Resultant Fury exercise, using technology from the Affordable Moving Surface Target Engagement project. The latest Naval Aviation Vision report, published in March, discussed development of a follow-on strike weapon to replace Harpoon and SLAM-ER, which will be “net-enabled” and a maritime interdiction version of Tomahawk—both of which would be designed to exploit long-range, high-resolution targeting from other platforms.

Plans to develop this version of the P-8A started in 2003, before Boeing was selected as the winner of the Navy's Multi-mission Maritime Aircraft (MMA) program. At that time, Boeing changed the basis of its MMA design from the 737-700 to the longer-bodied 737-800 and introduced an aft weapon bay and two forward-fuselage centerline hardpoints. At the time, Boeing would only say the design was to accommodate a classified Navy capability, but in fact, it was to accommodate the antenna of the LSRS. The inter-service politics of the program are intricate. The Navy is apparently willing to dedicate some of its P-8s to a largely overland, joint-service mission, possibly to maintain support for its large MPA force, while Boeing sees potential for selling up to 15 air-ground surveillance versions of the P-8A to the Air Force to replace Joint Stars. The USAF “is really fighting to not put any more money into large-platform GMTI,” says one observer. “I can't honestly see how they win that fight in the long run. It's too easy for the Army to claim they absolutely need GMTI and the Air force must provide it.”
:)

The project was planned to be for at least 108 airframes for the Navy.
51 P-8A, and 8 P-8I aircraft as of Jan. 2017.

Key vendors:
BAE Systems
Lockheed Martin
Northrop Grumman
Raytheon
Thales Group
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Unread post19 Sep 2017, 15:45

http://www.defensenews.com/digital-show ... vironment/

Air Combant Command head: JSTARS recap may not be best option

By: Valerie Insinna

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. — The Air Force’s decision on whether to cancel the JSTARS recap program will be driven, in part, on whether the service can provide a similar capability by networking together its existing platforms and sensors, the head of Air Combat Command said Monday. Although the service remains in source selection for an aircraft to replace its E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, it announced last week that it was evaluating “alternative approaches for battlefield command and control that could be more effective in high-threat environments.” If the Air Force decides to retain the capability of having a centralized battle management node in the skies, service leaders believe the current acquisition approach is the correct one, said Gen. Mike Holmes, head of Air Combat Command. Otherwise, the Air Force might be best served by networking together its current collection of aircraft, drones and sensors in an interim capability that can bridge the service’s capability gap until it can field a more survivable system built to handle high-threat environments, he said. “The question really is, how long do we continue to fund the GMTI [ground moving target indicator] capability in the classic way we’ve done it: with an integrated platform that has a sensor and air battle managers onboard,” that then communicate in the line of sight with people to take on tasks, he said during a Sept. 18 roundtable with reporters at the Air Force Association’s annual conference. “How much of our threat environment in the future will allow us to do that?” 

The service plans to explore future technologies and concepts of operation in its Advanced Battle Management System analysis of alternatives, which will begin next year. Meanwhile, three teams are locked in a battle to provide the services’ JSTARS replacement: Boeing; Lockheed Martin, who is partnered with Bombardier, Raytheon and Sierra Nevada Corp.; and Northrop Grumman, which has teamed with Gulfstream and L3 Technologies. All three competitors were able to put forward separate proposals using radars from Northrop and Raytheon. The Air Force plans to award a contract for the JSTARS recap program in March 2018, but Holmes acknowledged that date could be postponed. “We’re on track to not have to” delay the award, he said. “If we’re in a debate with OSD [the office of the secretary of defense] and certainly with Congress … we’ll have to wait and see. I wouldn’t speculate.” Georgia lawmakers have already made it known that will oppose any move to get rid of the legacy JSTARS fleet without having a replacement ready. “[W]e were recently informed that the Air Force wishes to explore alternate intelligence and surveillance platforms instead of continued pursuit of the recapitalization of the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) fleet,” wrote Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, and Reps. Austin Scott, Sanford Bishop and Tom Graves in a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. “While the rationale has not yet been made known to us, cancelling or delaying would be ill-advised and directly impact our combatant commanders who employ this asset in theater.”

Speaking at a roundtable later Monday, Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, head of Air Force Materiel Command, told reporters that the service is rebuilding the maintenance plan for the JSTARS aircraft, which would be rolled into a follow-on contract to Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor of the legacy fleet. “That’s going to take a couple of years,” she said. “It’s going to take a while to re-do the maintenance plan because it hasn’t been done in a long time. And now that we know that we’re not falling off the cliff in a couple years, we’re going to really do the analysis to make sure we know what needs to be done and when.” Speaking at a later roundtable, Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, head of Air Force Materiel Command, told reporters that the service is rebuilding the maintenance plan for the aircraft, which would be rolled into a follow-on contract to Northrop Grumman, the prime contractor of the legacy JSTARS fleet. “That’s going to take a couple of years,” she said. “It’s going to take a while to re-do the maintenance plan because it hasn’t been done in a long time. And now that we know that we’re not falling off the cliff in a couple years, we’re going to really do the analysis to make sure we know what needs to be done and when.” Although Northrop and Lockheed have stayed mostly silent about the fate of the JSTARS recap, Boeing has publicly made the case that the Air Force needs a central battle management and ground surveillance aircraft. During a Sept. 13 briefing with reporters, Rod Meranda, business development lead for the Boeing JSTARS program, said that it would take six to eight RQ-4 Global Hawks to have the same radar coverage of a JSTARS aircraft.

Using Global Hawks or other unmanned aircraft could also increase the amount of time it takes to send information and make decisions, he argued. Information collected onboard a Global Hawk would have to be processed on the ground by the Distributed Common Ground System before being shot back to an AWACS that could communicate that information to other aircraft. “With the JSTARS, [it] sees it – people are onboard and can communicate it out to all the fighters and bombers immediately and take care of those targets,” he said. “If you lose that satellite communications capability, the unmanned platforms are useless"
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Unread post17 Oct 2017, 23:14

https://www.defensenews.com/air/2017/10 ... -civilian/

Fate of JSTARS recap to stay secret until FY19 budget release, says No. 2 Air Force civilian

By: Valerie Insinna

WASHINGTON —
By the end of October, the U.S. Air Force will have made a decision on the future of the JSTARS recapitalization — namely, whether the service should cancel the program and replace it with an interim capability comprised of existing technology. However, the service’s No. 2 civilian said outsiders will have to wait until the fiscal 2019 budget is released to find out what will happen. Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein have not yet made a final call on whether to cancel the JSTARS recap, but once a decision has been reached, the service will have to defend its decision to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and then to the Office of Management and Budget and President Donald Trump, said Air Force Under Secretary Matt Donovan. “The real decision will be when the FY19 budget goes over to Congress, that’s when the decision would be revealed to the public,” he told Defense News during his first-ever interview on Oct. 12.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman are competing to build the follow-on aircraft to the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, an aging fleet of 16 planes that have been heavily used in the Middle East for ground surveillance and communications relay. However, Air Force leaders are worried their current recapitalization strategy — which involves buying commercial planes modified to carry a powerful radar and battle management suite — might not be the most survivable option. Earlier this month, Wilson said the final determination would be based on a “rapid assessment” conducted by a small team of officials tasked with evaluating and presenting alternatives to service leaders; but exactly what those options are remain shrouded in secrecy. Lt. Gen. Arnold Bunch told Defense News that the assessment team has not provided Wilson with a finalized list of options, but plans to do so in time to meet the secretary’s timetable for making a decision by the end of the month. “The secretary has seen some of the dialogue in some of the areas that we’re looking at, but we need to put more granularity into it as we come forward,” Bunch said during an Oct. 10 interview.

He declined to lay out the various options under consideration, including which new and existing technologies could be linked together to perform the JSTARS mission or what new concepts of operation have been developed. “We are looking at a variety of platforms that are out there, we are looking at a variety of upgrades and changes that we might need to do to pull all the disparate pieces of information together,” he said. “So I won’t say it’s this, this, this and this. What I would say is we’re looking at a variety of different things. I wouldn’t say we’ve nicked it down to: These three things are going to answer [it]. I think there are a bunch of different things that we’re going to look at.” Bunch described the team responsible for the assessment as a small, diverse group with members from Air Force’s requirements and acquisition wings, research labs, Air Combat Command and Air Materiel Command. “Our driver on this is being smart on how we meet the combatant commander’s requirements and how we meet our requirements. Cost is not the driver here. Budget is not the issue,” he said, adding that it’s possible some alternatives could be just as expensive as the JSTARS recap.

The big question the Air Force must now answer is whether the legacy JSTARS has enough service life to give the Air Force time to develop a systems-of-systems approach for doing the ground surveillance mission, said Mark Gunzinger, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. The technology is ready, he said, but it will take a big shift in thinking for the service to move from considering platforms to a concept of operations. An aircraft like JSTARS is probably not survivable in a war with a peer competitor like China or Russia, he continued. “You have an aircraft with a high-powered radar that emits a lot of energy that can frankly be detected by enemy IADS [integrated air defense systems] and other sensors. If you can be detected and then tracked, then perhaps an intercept would be launched against you, and that’s just not a survivable situation,” he said. “But what if you had four or five aircraft that were communicating with each other through laser comms. or some other LPI/LPD [low probability of intercept/low probability of detection] data link, and they had passive sensors, and they didn’t emit, yet they were capable of launching a couple of drones or cruise missiles with sensors that did emit?” he said. “And those deployable systems then could radiate to detect targets, and the aircraft that launched them could remain passive and receive the energy that bounces off the targets and determines where those targets are. So now you’ve helped increase the survivability of your manned platforms by using deployable systems that radiate, and if they’re shot down, they’re much lower cost and, OK, just launch another one.”

Rebecca Grant of IRIS Independent Research said the Air Force will likely have to adopt an incremental approach that gradually pushes out new data links and sensors across its fleet — networking assets together over time. “You can put packages on existing surveillance platforms. Put a package on the U-2, put a package on the Global Hawk,” she said. “We’re looking for the F-35 for more battle space intel characterization, so you can put littler things on littler airplanes to link them together to do the JSTARS mission and a whole bunch of other missions.” “The difficult part is making the overall architecture decision. What planes? … What comm links? And this is not trivial,” she said. It’s possible the Air Force — perhaps through Big Safari or the Rapid Capabilities Office — even develops small business jets outfitted with sensors to test out key technologies or to field them in the fleet as a “Version 1.0” type of capability, Grant said.
“This is not a case where you have to go and pioneer a lot of technologies,” she said. “It’s about the Air Force making choices and gritting their teeth and committing to a path forward knowing they’re going to have to go through version 1.0, 2.0 and so on and so forth. So to me the question is: Are they ready to take the plunge? If they are, then JSTARS recap as we know it goes away.” The Air Force has indicated it will fly the legacy JSTARS until at least fiscal 2023, and that hasn’t changed, Bunch said. However, he left the door open on whether the Air Force would sustain the platform after that point, saying the service is also assessing whether it makes more sense to retire the fleet after that due to its high-operational costs. “Past then is a long time out, and it will be informed by what I find as I do these decisions and I go through this effort,” he said, although he acknowledged the Air Force would have to abide by any congressional language mandating the retention of the JSTARS aircraft.
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Unread post18 Oct 2017, 22:10

http://aviationweek.com/defense/global- ... eplacement

Global Hawk Back On Table As USAF Weighs J-Stars Replacement

Oct 17, 2017
Lara Seligman

Northrop Grumman’s unmanned Global Hawk may be the U.S. Air Force’s fallback option to provide critical battlefield information to commanders if the service scraps a planned replacement for its aging ground surveillance and battle management fleet. The E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (J-Stars) is a modified Boeing 707-300 that uses the 27-ft., canoe-shaped, side-looking phased array antenna mounted under its forward fuselage to collect ground intelligence such as the movement of enemy troops. But as the threat evolves and the air domain becomes more contested, the Air Force is not convinced replacing the existing fleet with a similar capability—a large, manned aircraft—is the right approach. The Air Force is currently weighing whether the requirements for battle management and ground moving target indication (GMTI) can be met instead through a networked approach that would tie information from disaggregated sensors into one battlefield picture. This approach would leverage existing capabilities such as modern radars, satellites and fifth-generation aircraft that can act as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson explained in September at an event in Washington.

A critical piece of that network would be the newest version of Northrop’s high-altitude, long-endurance RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial system, Block 40, which the Air Force began fielding in 2015. The RQ-4 Block 40 brings a new capability to monitor large areas in any weather with an advanced air-to-surface radar for wide-area surveillance of fixed and moving targets, called the ZPY-2 Multi-Platform Radar Technology Insertion Program (MP-RTIP) sensor. The Air Force is currently fielding 11 Block 40s as the Block 30s are phased out. The Air Force’s most recent proposal is to fly the existing J-Stars as long as possible, into the 2030s, before gradually transitioning the mission to the Global Hawk Block 40, according to Loren Thompson of the Lexington Institute think tank. The service confirmed that Global Hawk is one of the sensors the service could use to fulfill combatant commander GMTI requirements if the J-Stars fleet is retired with no direct replacement. However, one RQ-4 Block 40 equipped with the MP-RTIP sensor is not as powerful as the J-Stars radar. The Air Force is not proposing buying additional Block 40s, but instead repurposing the existing platforms, Thompson noted. “You need six Block 40s in order to match one E-8 aircraft,” he said.

The Air Force and industry have spent years and millions of dollars maturing technologies to develop proposals for the $6.9 billion J-Stars recap that is now nearing source selection.
Three industry teams are vying to build the new airframe:

-Northrop is teamed with Gulfstream and L3 on the G550 business jet;
-Lockheed Martin is working with Bombardier on a proposal based on the Canadian company’s Global 6000 business jet;
-Boeing is offering a modified version of its 737-700 commercial airliner.

Meanwhile, Raytheon and Northrop are working to develop separate proposals for a modern active electronically scanned array radar to equip the new platform, a crucial piece of the capability. But Wilson stressed that a lot of the capability needed to fulfill the J-Stars mission exists already. The question is whether the Air Force can figure out how to fuse this information into a cohesive battlefield picture, and do it quickly? To illustrate how far technology has come, Wilson described how in 1991 she would have called a taxi to get to her destination. Today, she can open the Uber app on her phone, and it will tell her what time the car is going to show up, who the driver is, and more. “Technology has enabled digital solutions, and what we’re trying to evaluate today—very quickly—is can we do it a different way, what time would it take and what are the pieces that we have to put together?” Wilson explained.
She expected a final decision on the J-Stars recap this month.
:)

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