The Air Force on Tuesday said it intends to sole source contracts to Northrop Grumman [NOC] and Raytheon [RTN] for Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS) recapitalization radar technical maturation and risk reduction.

The Air Force said the contracts are to mature radar subsystem design and reduce the radar integration risk with JSTARS recap, according to a notice posted on Federal Business Opportunities (FBO). The service said the acquisition is limited to United States original equipment manufacturers (OEM) and market research indicates the two companies are the only two OEMs capable of meeting government requirements.

An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) aircraft. Photo: Air Force.
An E-8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) aircraft. Photo: Air Force.

The anticipated contract awards will be cost-plus fixed fee with 18 month periods of performance. Raytheon and Northrop Grumman will conduct non-recurring engineering for both hardware and software to enable delivery of a first radar test article in support of the JSTARS recapitalization effort.

JSTARS recap is a manned aircraft replacement for the legacy E-8C that provides information for better decision making via battle management, command and control (BMC2) and battlespace awareness across the full range of military operations. JSTARS recap will enhance the warfighter’s ability to achieve the joint vision of combat operations by integrating current and mature sub-system technologies onto a commercially available business class jet, according to budget documents. These major sub-systems include: sensor, air vehicle, communications and BMC2.

JSTARS recap is a widely anticipated program as the Air Force anticipates spending roughly $1.2 billion on the program through fiscal year 2020 if the program survives internal budget battles in its current form. The Air Force’s former acquisition chief, William LaPlante, said in November the fate of the program was outside the service’s control (Defense Daily, November 25).

Air Force Secretary Deborah James hoped in early December that a Milestone A decision would take place by the end of 2015. She said the Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) in September declined to approve a Milestone A decision because Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics (AT&L) Frank Kendall wanted some additional information on a variety of technical issues. Milestone A is a decision made early in the acquisition cycle on whether to enter the technology development phase from materiel solution analysis.