E-8C Joint STARS
Based on the highly adaptable civilian 707-200 commercial airliner airframe, the E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System is the U.S. Air Force’s primary platform for battle management and tracking of ground targets. The aircraft made its debut during Operation Desert Storm where it guided aerial attacks on Iraqi armor and ground targets for coalition forces.
The most prominent external feature is the 27-foot (8 meters) long, canoe-shaped radome under the forward fuselage that houses the
24-foot (7.3 meters) long, side-looking phased array antenna.
The radar and computer subsystems on the E-8C can gather and display detailed battlefield information on ground forces. The information is relayed in near-real time to the Army and Marine Corps common ground stations and to other ground command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, or C4I, nodes.
The antenna can be tilted to either side of the aircraft where it can develop a 120-degree field of view covering nearly 19,305 square miles (50,000 square kilometers) and is capable of detecting targets at more than 250 kilometers (more than 820,000 feet). The radar also has some limited capability to detect helicopters, rotating antennas and low, slow-moving fixed wing aircraft.
As a battle management and command and control asset, the E-8C can support the full spectrum of roles and missions from peacekeeping operations to major theater war.
Joint STARS evolved from Army and Air Force programs to develop, detect, locate and attack enemy armor at ranges beyond the forward area of troops. The first two developmental aircraft deployed in 1991 to Operation Desert Storm and also supported Operation Joint Endeavor in December 1995.