Melbourne, FL (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- The U.S. Air Force awarded Northrop Grumman Corporation (NYSE:NOC) a $223.6 million contract for two E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) Propulsion Pod System (PPS) shipsets and FAA certification.
Each shipset contains four Pratt and Whitney JT8D-219 engines, pylon assemblies and associated aircraft system interconnections. Deliveries are expected to start in 2011 pending the final military certifications of the engines on "T-3," the Joint STARS test bed aircraft.
"This critical award moves us a step closer to re-engining the Joint STARS fleet," said Tom Vice, sector vice president of the company's Battle Management and Engagement Systems Division. "We've initially demonstrated the JT8D's approximately 21,000 pounds of maximum thrust on T-3 and the performance improvement seen in flight testing is immediately noticeable."
?The increased power and fuel economy from the new engines – which are widely used in commercial airline fleets – enables the E-8 to fly higher and maintain longer time on station, providing a better view of the battlespace. "With JT8D engines, Joint STARS will be able to take off from shorter runways, increasing basing options and reducing the transit time to get on station," said Vice. "Shorter transit time, along with the improved fuel efficiency and increased reliability of these new engines all translate to more Joint STARS time on station – a critical benefit to U.S. and coalition forces.
"The JT8D's reliability, as demonstrated in commercial service, also addresses the fleet's number one maintenance issue – engines," said Vice. "A business case analysis has shown that this engine upgrade may potentially pay for itself in less than 10 years in the operations, maintenance and fuel savings realized from not having to deal with the old engines."
The Administration's fiscal 2011 budget, currently under consideration by Congressional committees, includes procurement funding for additional shipsets of engines.
The Joint STARS program is managed by the 751st Electronic Support Group at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass. The 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, Ga. The Wing comprises active-duty Air Force, Army and Air National Guard personnel.
?Northrop Grumman is the prime contractor for the E-8C Joint STARS development and total system support programs. The E-8C 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 joint and component command and control elements.
SOURCE: Northrop Grumman Corporation