The Air Force is well on its way to replacing a critical airborne battle management command and control weapon system with the Dec. 28, 2016, release of the development request for proposal, or RFP, for the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, or JSTARS Recapitalization program.
The JSTARS is a key warfighting asset that provides airborne battle management command and control of joint and coalition forces, as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance information about ground movements to detect and track enemy forces. JSTARS first flew in support of Operation Desert Storm in 1991, and has been a high-demand airborne command and control asset ever since its initial entry into the U.S. military arsenal.
The release of the RFP follows receipt of an Acquisition Decision Memorandum, or ADM, signed by the Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics on Sept. 7, 2016.
“I can’t say enough about the outstanding effort by the entire Recap team in reaching this important phase in the program,” said Col. Dave Learned, the JSTARS Recap program manager. “With the release of the RFP, we are keeping the Recap program on track for successful delivery of a critical warfighting capability.”
The RFP includes all aspects of the system, including the airframe, radar, communication systems and battle management command and control suite. The RFP will result in the delivery of three engineering and manufacturing development, or EMD, JSTARS Recap weapon systems for testing. There are also contract options for low-rate initial production for two more weapon systems and full-rate production of lots #1-3 for four additional weapon systems each, for a total of 17 aircraft.
In addition, options are included for ground support systems, such as training systems, mission planning and processing systems, system integration labs, support equipment and spares.
The Recap program recently completed an 11-month pre-EMD effort with Northrop Grumman Corp., Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin. According to program officials, these activities helped assess the maturity of subsystem technology, reduced weapon system integration risk and provided information for the RFP.
Ongoing program work includes radar risk reduction efforts with contractors Northrop Grumman Corp. Mission Systems and Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems are pursuing nonrecurring hardware and software engineering activities to ensure radars are scaled to meet JSTARS Recap specific requirements.
“We’ve completed successful pre-EMD efforts with industry and continue to make progress on our radar risk reduction activities,” said Learned. “Thanks to the amazing work by our team, the program is well-positioned for a successful EMD phase. But what’s really exciting is how that paves the way for us being able to equip operators with a weapon system that will be more efficient and reliable than the current system. ”
This proposal solicitation will be a full and open competition with an anticipated contract award in fiscal year 2018, to have assets available for initial operational capability by the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2024.
“Through significant effort by the Recap team, and valuable feedback from industry, as well as Air Force and OSD leadership, we now have our final Development RFP out for industry competition,” said Sueann Lachance, JSTARS Recap Development RFP Program Management lead. “We’re excited to see official proposals.”