FAS | Intelligence | Programs | Collect |||| Search |

FAS Project on Intelligence Reform

Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System

The Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) is a long-range, air-to-ground surveillance system designed to locate, classify and track ground targets in all weather conditions. While flying in friendly airspace, the joint Army-Air Force program can look deep behind hostile borders to detect and track ground movements in both forward and rear areas. It has a range of more than 150 miles (250 km). These capabilities make Joint STARS effective for dealing with any contingency, whether actual or impending military aggression, international treaty verification, or border violation.


Aircraft Boeing 707-300 series aircraft, modified by Northrop Grumman
Designation E-8A for two prototype aircraft
Designation E-8C for one test aircraft and all production aircraft
Primary Function: Ground Surveillance
Contractor: Northrop Grumman Corp.
Power Plant: Four JT3D engines
Length: 152'11" (46.6 m);
Height: 42'6" (12.9 m);
Weight: 171,000 pounds (77,565 Kg)-- Empty
155,000 pounds (70,307 Kg)-- Max Fuel
336,000 pounds (152,408 Kg)-- Max Gross
Wingspan: 145'9" (44.4 m);
Speed: .84 Mach
Date Deployed: 1996
Inventory: 17 production aircraft
Service ceiling 42,000 feet
Range: 11 hours -- 20 hours with air refueling
Unit Cost: $225 million
Standard mission crew of 21 comprising 18 operators and 3 flight crew
Long endurance crew of 34 comprising 28 operators and 6 flight crew
Radar 24 feet 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.
Radar operating modes Wide area surveillance
Fixed target indication
Synthetic aperture radar
Moving target indicator
Target classification
Radar processors Three load sharing programmable processors each processor containing five high speed, fixed point distributed processors
Radar 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
Communications digital data links Surveillance 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)
Voice Communications Twelve encrypted UHF radios
Two encrypted HF radios
Three VHF encrypted radios with provision for Single Channel Ground and Airborne Radio System (SINCGARS)
Multiple intercom nets

Related Resources

FAS | Intelligence | Programs| Collect |||| Search |

Maintained by Steven Aftergood
Created by John Pike
Updated August 9, 2005