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Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS (JSTARS)

Airborne Battle Management Platform Aircraft [ 1996 ]

The Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS - with its sophisticate equipment - is used by the USAF for Airborne Battle Management.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 08/01/2018 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.

A product of the Northrop Grumman Corporation, the E-8 "Joint Stars" series of aircraft provides the United States Air Force with electronic "eyes" over the battlefield in the way of aerial surveillance. The aircraft is based on a highly-modified version of Boeing's 707 civil transport plane and retains the basic fuselage shape and four engine low-monoplane wings. Deployed in a limited capacity in 1991, the system saw full operational service by 1996 and continues playing a vital role with American forces through the 116th ACW, which retains 17 such aircraft.

The E-8 Joint Stars system was developed to a US Army and US Air Force requirement for an aircraft platform that was capable of tracking enemy ground targets along frontlines. The contract was awarded to Grumman and two Boeing 707-300 types were chosen for extensive modification. The platform would be powered by four Pratt & Whitney TF33-102C turbofan engines and feature a host of specialized tracking, communications and radar equipment that could assist ground commanders in providing them with near-real time information with a limited ability to track aerial threats.

The most notable design feature of the E-8 is the long fuselage attachment on the forward bottom of the aircraft. This assembly houses a positional side-looking phased array antenna of the Northrop Grumman (Norden) APY-3 type, providing crews and commanders alike with varying fields of view and target detection well over 250 kilometers. The system can track up to 1,000,000 kilometers in one 8-hour sortie (mission endurance time for the aircraft is 9 hours). Pulse Doppler modes are also available, assisting the crew in tracking moving targets. Information gathers by E-8 entities are then relayed to ground control links and, from there, the information is assessed by proper officials. Crew accommodations amount to a full compliment of 4 flight crew personnel, and additional 14 Air Force specialists and three US Army specialists. Of course this can vary based on mission type.

The E-8 was deployed in a basic developmental form during the 1991 Persian Gulf War to which the two aircraft flew a total of 49 sorties. It would later be fielded in support of NATO during the war in Bosnia/Kosovo and more recently in operations Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan) and Iraqi Freedom (Iraq).©MilitaryFactory.com
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February 2018 - The USAF will attempt to end an active program seeking to succeed the aging E-8C platforms currently in service.

July 2018 - It was announced that the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) will effectively end the USAF bid to purchase more JSTARS aircraft. In its place, the USAF hopes to fund and develop the Advanced Battle Management System (ABMS) involving unmanned air vehicles such as the MQ-9 drone.



Service Year

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United States

In Active Service.
4 + 18


Northrop Grumman Corporation - USA
(View other Aviaton-Related Manufacturers)
National flag of the United States United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Intelligence-Surveillance-Reconnaissance (ISR), Scout
Surveil ground targets / target areas to assess environmental threat levels, enemy strength, or enemy movement.

152.9 ft
(46.60 m)
145.7 ft
(44.40 m)
42.7 ft
(13.00 m)
336,004 lb
(152,409 kg)
(Showcased structural values pertain to the Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint STARS (JSTARS) production variant)
Installed: 4 x Pratt and Whitney TF33-102C turbofan engines generating 19,200lbs each.
Max Speed
587 mph
(944 kph | 510 kts)
42,001 ft
(12,802 m | 8 mi)

♦ MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030

(Showcased performance specifications pertain to the Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint STARS (JSTARS) production variant. Performance specifications showcased above are subject to environmental factors as well as aircraft configuration. Estimates are made when Real Data not available. Compare this aircraft entry against any other in our database or View aircraft by powerplant type)

Supported Types

(Not all ordnance types may be represented in the showcase above)
E-8A - Prototypes converted from Boeing 707-300 airliners; two such models produced.
E-8B - New production aircraft models proposed; 22 ordered by the USAF but later dropped in favor of the second-hand build E-8C model.
E-8C - Latest Production Model of which 17 were produced for the United States Air Force.

General Assessment
Values are derrived from a variety of categories related to the design, overall function, and historical influence of this aircraft in aviation history.
Overall Rating
The overall rating takes into account over 60 individual factors related to this aircraft entry.
Rating is out of a possible 100 points.
Relative Maximum Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
This entry's maximum listed speed (587mph).

Graph average of 563 miles-per-hour.
Max Altitude Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Aviation Era Span
Pie graph section
Showcasing era cross-over of this aircraft design.
Unit Production (17)
Compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian).

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