The US Air Force has taken a further step forward in its efforts to find a replacement for its E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) aircraft. Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman were awarded contracts by the US Air Force Life Cycle Management Center on August 7 to undertake pre-engineering and manufacturing development (EMD) work on the JSTARS recapitalization programme. They will each carry out work that will help assess maturity of subsystem technology, reduce weapon system integration risk and lower life cycle cost by virtue of design.
Boeing’s contract is valued at $9,945,179, the award to Lockheed Martin is for $11,495,833 and Northrop Grumman received $10 million. All three are all expected to complete work on their contracts by July 31, 2016. The USAF said that four competing offers had been received, but did not reveal the company which had submitted the fourth, unsuccessful, bid.
Earlier this year, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman had announced partners for their bids at the Paris Air Show in June. Lockheed Martin has teamed with Bombardier and Raytheon to offer a system housed on the Bombardier Global 6000 business jet. Northrop Grumman’s partners are General Dynamics and its subsidiary Gulfstream, along with L-3 Aerospace Systems, proposing a Gulfstream business jet, probably the G550. Boeing has gone for a much larger aircraft option and is basing its proposal on a modified version of the commercial Boeing 737-700 BBJ1.
Once a winning contender has been selected, an EMD contract for an initial two test aircraft will be awarded. A low-rate initial production contract will then follow for three aircraft, with the intention of reaching initial operational capability in late 2023. In total, 17 aircraft will be purchased. Alan Warnes