E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar
System, or Joint STARS, is an airborne battle management, command and
control, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platform. Its
primary mission is to provide theater ground and air commanders with
ground surveillance to support attack operations and targeting that
contributes to the delay, disruption and destruction of enemy forces.
The E-8C is a modified Boeing 707-300 series commercial airframe
extensively remanufactured and modified with the radar, communications,
operations and control subsystems required to perform its operational
mission. The most prominent external feature is the 27-foot (8 meters)
long, canoe-shaped radome under the forward fuselage that houses the
24-foot (7.3 meters) long, side-looking phased array antenna.
The radar and computer subsystems on the E-8C can gather and display
detailed battlefield information on ground forces. The information is
relayed in near-real time to the Army and Marine Corps common ground
stations and to other ground command, control, communications,
computers and intelligence, or C4I, nodes.
The antenna can be tilted to either side of the aircraft where it can
develop a 120-degree field of view covering nearly 19,305 square miles
(50,000 square kilometers) and is capable of detecting targets at more
than 250 kilometers (more than 820,000 feet). The radar also has some
limited capability to detect helicopters, rotating antennas and low,
slow-moving fixed wing aircraft.
As a battle management and command and control asset, the E-8C can
support the full spectrum of roles and missions from peacekeeping
operations to major theater war.
Joint STARS evolved from Army and Air Force programs to develop,
detect, locate and attack enemy armor at ranges beyond the forward area
of troops. The first two developmental aircraft deployed in 1991 to
Operation Desert Storm and also supported Operation Joint Endeavor in
Joint STARS supported NATO troops over Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1996,
Operation Allied Force from February to June 1999, and Operation
Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003.
The 116th Air Control Wing is America's first "Total Force" wing. The
former 93rd Air Control Wing, an active-duty Air Combat Command unit,
and 116th Bomb Wing, a Georgia Air National Guard unit, were
deactivated Oct.1, 2002. The 116th Air Control Wing was activated
blending Guard and active-duty Airmen into a single unit.
The 116th ACW is the only unit that operates the E-8C and the Joint
STARS mission. The 17th and final E-8C aircraft was delivered on March
24 FOOT LENGTH ANTENNA, SIDE LOOKING, PHASED ARRAY. HOUSED IN CANOE
SHAPED RADOME UNDER FORWARD FUSELAGE AFT OF THE NOSE LANDING GEAR.
SCANNED ELECTRONICALLY IN AZIMUTH, SCANNED MECHANICALLY IN ELEVATION
FROM EITHER SIDE OF THE AIRCRAFT.
OPERATING MODES: WIDE AREA SURVEILLANCE, FIXED TARGET
INDICATION, SYNTHETIC APERATURE RADAR, MOVING TARGET INDICATOR, TARGET
PROCESSORS: THREE LOAD SHARING PROGRAMMABLE PROCESSORS, EACH PROCESSOR
CONTAINING FIVE HIGH SPEED, FIXED POINT DISTRIBUTED PROCESSORS.
OPERATION AND CONTROL SYSTEM: ONE NAVIGATION AND SELF DEFENSE
WORKSTATION; SEVENTEEN IDENTICAL OPERATOR WORKSTATIONS. FUNCTIONS OF
OPERATOR WORKSTATIONS: FLIGHT PATH PLANNING AND MONITORING, GENERATION
AND DISPLAY OF CARTOGRAPHIC AND HYPSOGRAPHIC MAP DATA, RADAR
MANAGEMENT, SURVEILLANCE AND THREAT ANALYSIS, RADAR DATA REVIEW, TIME
OF ARRIVAL CALCULATION, JAMMER LOCATION, DISTANCE AND AZIMUTH
CALCULATION, PAIRING OF WEAPONS AND TARGETS, AND OTHER FUNCTIONS.
DIGITAL DATA LINKS: SURVIELLANCE AND CONTROL DATA LINK (SCDL)
FOR TRANSMISSION TO MOBILE GROUND STATIONS, JOINT TACTICAL INFORMATION
DISTRIBUTION SYSTEM (JTIDS) FOR TACTICAL AIR NAVIGATION (TACAN)
OPERATION AND TACTICAL DATA INFORMATION LINK-J (TADIL-J) GENERATION AND
PROCESSING, SATELLITE COMMUNICATIONS LINK (SATCOM)
COMMUNICATIONS: TWELVE ENCRYPTED UHF RADIOS, TWO ENCRYPTED HF
RADIOS, THREE ENCRYPTED VHF RADIOS WITH PROVISION FOR SINGLE CHANNEL
GROUND AND AIRBORNE RADIO SYSTEM (SINCGARS), MULTIPLE INTERCOM SETS