MILITARY ELECTRONICS BRIEFING: JSTARS & JSTARS Recap & Future USAF SAR/GMTI Ra- dar & C4I

Program Briefing

JSTARS (Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System) is a US Air Force/US Army effort to mount the AN/APY-3 multimode synthetic aperture radar (SAR) with ground moving target indication (GMTI) in a Boeing 707, for battlefield surveillance purposes. Development aircraft flew in the first Gulf War, and JSTARS has been extensively used in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and elsewhere. The last of 19 platforms was delivered in March 2005. With production ended, the APY-3 has been upgraded on an ongoing basis, with all platforms brought to Block 20 standard by the end of 2005. A six-year, $532 million upgrade & support contract was awarded to Northrop Grumman in November 2005. In 2007, with the follow-on E-10A SAR/GMTI Multi-Sensor Command and Control Aircraft (MC2A) finally cancelled, it looked like JSTARS would get even more technology transfers, and perhaps complete next generation systems such as the MP-RTIP radar (see report). In June 2008, Congress approved $85 million in the war supplemental to begin funding a version of the MP-RTIP for JSTARS. But by 2012, the Air Force had not come up with a definite plan for either upgrading or replacing JSTARS, or their 1970s-era Boeing 707 platforms. A solid state upgrade to the APY-3 has resulted in a re-designation to AN/APY-7, rather than a different APY-3(V) version. Perhaps the Air Force was insecure about the US Navy’s newer AN/APS-149(V) radar, thought by some to be superior to JSTARS (“oh, but not to the APY- 7!”).

Full report: