The Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) is a project of the US Air Force and the Department of the Army. JSTARS serves as a theater Battle Management and Command and Control Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (C2ISR) platform that provides support to joint, interagency and multinational commanders and components (“Northrop Grumman,” n.d.). JSTARS includes airborne and ground-based components and connectivity. The airborne component consists of the E-8 series aircraft and includes radar, operations and control, and communications subsystems. The system is capable of providing a near real-time picture of the ground situation as well as determining the direction, speed and patterns of military activity. JSTARs has effectively and efficiently deployed in support of several military and interagency operations (“INSCOM,” n.d.). The JSTARs fleet should be maintained as it evolves so it may continue to produce high-demand intelligence and remain an extremely valuable asset in the field.
The JSTARS E-8 series aircraft was first introduced to the US Air Force in 1996. The Boeing 707-300 series aircraft serves as the JSTARS airframe and its propulsion system consists of four Pratt & Whitney JT3D-3B turbojet engines, each providing 18,000lb of thrust. JSTARS is capable of a flight endurance of 11 hours or 20 hours with in-flight refueling and it has a surface ceiling of 42,000ft (13,000m). JSTARS employs Wide Area Surveillance, Fixed Target Indication (FTI), Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), Moving Target Indicator (MTI), and Target Classification Modes. JSTARS aircraft have secure voice and datalinks to the army's ground command and communications stations and to Air Force command centers. The aircraft are also fitted with Force XXI Battle Command, Brigade and Below (FBCB2) 'Blue Force' tracking, which significantly improves the ability to locate and track the movement of friendly ground forces (“Air Force-Technology.com,” n.d.).
A standard JSTARS mission requires a three member flight crew and an 18 member mixed Army and Air Force mission crew. Long endurance missions call for a six member flight crew and a mission crew of 21 (“Air Force-Technology.com,” n.d.). Mission crews oversee the operation of JSTARS systems and serve as the data and communications link between the airborne platform and ground forces. They are essential in the operation, interpretation, and application of the various intelligence assets onboard.
The ground-based component of JSTARS includes Army and Marine Corps Common Ground Stations (CGS). CGSs are located within brigade and regimental combat teams, as well as at division, corps, and echelon above corps operations centers. The GSA receives Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) near-real time radar imagery data, Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) imagery, Commander’s Tactical Terminal/Joint Tactical Terminal (CTT/JTT) Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) data, and Secondary Imagery...