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Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS (JSTARS)

Airborne Battle Management Platform Aircraft

United States | 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: 04/24/2023 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site; No A.I. was used in the generation of this content.
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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).

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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.

Power & Performance
Those special qualities that separate one aircraft design from another. Performance specifications presented assume optimal operating conditions for the Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint STARS (JSTARS) Airborne Battle Management Platform Aircraft.
4 x Pratt and Whitney TF33-102C turbofan engines generating 19,200lbs each.
587 mph
944 kph | 510 kts
Max Speed
42,001 ft
12,802 m | 8 miles
Service Ceiling
The nose-to-tail, wingtip-to-wingtip physical qualities of the Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint STARS (JSTARS) Airborne Battle Management Platform Aircraft.
4 + 18
152.9 ft
46.60 m
O/A Length
145.7 ft
(44.40 m)
O/A Width
42.7 ft
(13.00 m)
O/A Height
336,004 lb
(152,409 kg)
Notable series variants as part of the Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS (JSTARS) family line.
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.
Global customers who have evaluated and/or operated the Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS (JSTARS). Nations are displayed by flag, each linked to their respective national aircraft listing.

Total Production: 17 Units

Contractor(s): Northrop Grumman Corporation - USA
National flag of the United States

[ United States ]
Relative Max Speed
Hi: 750mph
Lo: 375mph
Aircraft Max Listed Speed (587mph).

Graph Average of 563 MPH.
Era Crossover
Pie graph section
Showcasing Aircraft Era Crossover (if any)
Max Alt Visualization
Small airplane graphic
Production Comparison
Entry compared against Ilyushin IL-2 (military) and Cessna 172 (civilian) total production.
MACH Regime (Sonic)
RANGES (MPH) Subsonic: <614mph | Transonic: 614-921 | Supersonic: 921-3836 | Hypersonic: 3836-7673 | Hi-Hypersonic: 7673-19180 | Reentry: >19030
Aviation Timeline
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Mission Roles
Some designs are single-minded in their approach while others offer a more versatile solution to airborne requirements.
Some designs stand the test of time while others are doomed to never advance beyond the drawing board; let history be their judge.
Going Further...
The Northrop Grumman E-8 Joint STARS (JSTARS) Airborne Battle Management Platform Aircraft appears in the following collections:
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