Northrop Grumman has received an initial $12.5m to begin non-recurring engineering work required to replace engines on the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) aircraft. The contract was awarded by the US Air Force.
Last month the US Air Force and Northrop Grumman announced the selection of the Pratt & Whitney/Seven Q Seven team to supply their integrated Propulsion Pod System, which includes the JT8D-219 engine.
‘These are exciting times for the Joint STARS program,’ said Dave Nagy, Northrop Grumman vice president for Joint STARS. ‘In addition to re-engining, there are numerous mission suite capability enhancements underway and planned for this 707-based platform. This allows the Joint STARS to perform an even more critical role in our country’s defence and in the protection of our military troops in distant and dispersed locations. The addition of new engines on the Joint STARS means that it will continue fulfilling those roles and new ones for the next 50 or more years.’
As part of the Northrop Grumman Joint STARS production program, each E-8C airframe was completely refurbished at the company’s Lake Charles, Louisiana, Maintenance and Modification Center. ‘History has shown that the 707 was ultimately built stronger than original designs predicted and, following the refurbishment work we did on our E-8C production line, this airframe is capable of efficiently flying well into this century,’ Nagy added.
The E-8C Joint STARS weapon system, based on Boeing 707-300C series aircraft refurbished by Northrop Grumman, is currently powered by Pratt & Whitney’s TF33-PW-102 (commercial JT3D) engines. Subsequent engine studies have y shown new and more powerful engines will improve the Joint STARS operational utility and performance characteristics while reducing costs.
According to Northrop Grumman, the new engines will be more fuel efficient, reduce the amount of in-flight refuelling and increase the amount of time a Joint STARS aircraft can stay on-station.