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Flying Ground Surveillance

Based on the 737-700 platform, the Boeing JSTARS recapitalization leverages decades of expertise transforming commercial platforms for military use. It will provide the right size platform coupled with aerial refueling capability to execute the long range JSTARS missions. A 737 modified into JSTARS aircraft offers a best platform-to-mission match, in terms of low acquisition cost, fielded capability and long term total ownership affordability. At the same time, it meets the current USAF requirements for ground surveillance and targeting missions.  

The size of the aircraft and the ability of the crew to perform the mission over long on-station times was factored into the evaluation of the size of the aircraft. And if we know one thing about platforms that have a planned life expectancy of 30 years or more, there is going to be a need to grow the capabilities. This affects not only the sensor, but communications, and computing capabilities, which tend to add weight, require more power, and need more cooling. Smaller platforms just don’t have that kind of growth potential.  

With a set of virtual reality goggles, military personnel can tour the JSTARS offering from nose to tail. Stepping inside the virtual plane and pointing a joystick control at the interior reveals various configurations for work stations, additional cargo and equipment. The virtual mockup tool provides a collaborative approach to explore options for the best combination of technology and talent to meet the USAF needs.  

The Boeing JSTARS aircraft will incorporate open mission architecture based on proven battle management command and control software from the fielded technologies of the P-8A, Airborne Early Warning and Control (AEW&C) and Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) Block 40/45 mission system.  Additionally, the worldwide footprint of 8,000 737s will provide the most cost-effective and competitive environment for support and sustainability throughout the life of the program.

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