USAF’s JSTARS Recap Program Takes a Step Forward

by C. Zachary Hofer, Electronics Analyst, Forecast International.

Another step in the ongoing saga that is the U.S. Air Force’s Joint STARS Recapitalization program has taken place. On November 19, the Air Force released its latest risk-reduction sources-sought notification, encapsulating work related to the airborne battle management command-and-control platform’s radar subsystem. Specifically, the sources-sought notification seeks a contractor to reduce technical and integration risk for the final radar system. The assessment will be used to build the radar subsystem for the JSTARS Recap test aircraft, increase the manufacturing readiness level, and reduce risk associated with delivery of the first radar test article.

The notification reveals that although the eventual contract would be considered a stand-alone effort, “the requirements would be drawn from the components offered as government-furnished equipment (GFE).” The notification adds that “the offeror’s radar design and components will be fully compliant with the JSTARS Recap Systems Requirement Document (SRD) dated 17 March 2015 and adhere to the JSTARS Recap Government Reference Architecture (GRA).”

Forecast International believes that Northrop Grumman will have a leg up over rival suitors for the JSTARS Recap radar award. The U.S. has funded a tremendous amount of development for the company’s MP-RTIP radar, specifically for application on board the JSTARS aircraft. Eventually, a scaled-down variant of the radar, known as the ZPY-2, found its way on board the Global Hawk Block 40 UAV, but the original purpose of the radar was for use in the JSTARS program. U.S. budget request documents have shown that in recent years, the Air Force has resumed funding the MP-RTIP for JSTARS use.

However, even with the amount of time and money already dedicated to optimizing the MP-RTIP for the JSTARS platform, the Air Force has emphasized that a risk-reduction award would not dictate the size of the radar, nor would it dictate which radar vendor would provide the system for the JSTARS Recap weapon system. The Air Force plans to issue the radar risk-reduction award “no later than 1QFY17” to up to two U.S.-based original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) of wide-area surveillance (WAS) radars.

A fully updated MP-RTIP report will be released by Forecast International through its Airborne Electronics Forecast, AN Equipment Forecast, Electronic Systems Forecast, and Radar Forecast products in June 2016. A revised report that is more broadly focused on the overall Joint STARS program will be available in February 2016 through Forecast International’s Airborne Electronics Forecast, C4I Forecast, and Radar Forecast products. Clients who are more interested in the JSTARS’s Boeing 737 platform may find reports in Forecast International’s Airborne Retrofit & Modernization Forecast and Civil Aircraft Forecast products more helpful. An hourly updated overview of these markets is also provided through various components of Forecast International’s unique Platinum Forecast System 2.0.

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