MELBOURNE, Fla., Aug. 16, 2005 (PRIMEZONE) -- Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) recently completed Block 20 upgrades to the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) aircraft, bringing the entire fleet to the same "open-systems" configuration which will allow the aircraft hardware and software to be upgraded at a lower cost while increasing mission effectiveness to meet future surveillance, targeting and battle-management requirements.
The Block 20 E-8C configuration features an integrated commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) computing and signal-processing architecture that can be easily upgraded with new technology. Each airplane uses hardware from Mercury Computer Systems and Compaq Computer Corporation.
Since 2001, and through the last delivery earlier this year, all production Joint STARS aircraft were delivered in the Block 20 configuration. The most recently delivered aircraft was the last of 10 previously delivered that were upgraded to Block 20 under a computer-replacement program that provides a COTS data-processing capability.
The E-8C Joint STARS is the world's most advanced wide-area airborne ground-surveillance, targeting and battle-management system. It detects, locates, classifies, tracks and targets hostile ground movements, communicating real-time information through secure data links with U.S. Air Force and U.S. Army command posts.
"These commercially available computer systems provide the Air Force with advanced technologies that increase reliability and processing power, all at a lower cost per aircraft," said Dave Nagy, the Northrop Grumman's Joint STARS program vice president. "With their open-systems architecture, we can upgrade these systems more easily, giving commanders the latest technology more quickly.
"Joint STARS will be in the Defense Department's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance constellation for many years to come. And with the 116th Air Control Wing now having the maximum number of these low-density, high-demand aircraft in the same flexible, open-system configuration, we are clearing the way for additional mission upgrades."
With the completion of the computer-replacement program, future upgrades will be scheduled during each aircraft's routine, periodic, depot-maintenance schedule and include programs to increase the system's value with connectivity enhancements to existing and future systems and enriching the on-board support to the warfighter.
All Joint STARS aircraft are assigned to the Georgia Air National Guard's 116th Air Control Wing, a "total force blended wing," based at Robins Air Force Base, Warner Robins, Ga. The wing comprises active-duty Air Force, Army and Air National Guard personnel.
Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems, the prime contractor for the E-8C production and whole-life support programs, is a premier aerospace and defense systems integration organization. Headquartered in El Segundo, Calif., it designs, develops, produces and supports network-enabled integrated systems and subsystems optimized for use in networks. For its government and civil customers worldwide, Integrated Systems delivers best-value solutions, products and services that support military and homeland defense missions in the areas of intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; space access; battle management command and control; and integrated strike warfare.
CONTACT: Jim Stratford Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems (321) 726-7526 firstname.lastname@example.org