With the Air Force’s Joint STARS recapitalization initiative gaining speed, aircraft and communication companies from around the country gathered for an industry week at Hanscom AFB, Mass., April 7-10, 2014.
More than 100 participants from 35 companies attended the event where a series of government briefings, presentations from small business sub-contractors, one-on-one sessions with government representatives and a networking lunch took place.
“The purpose of the event was to open a dialogue with industry representatives and engage in discussion about the results of the latest JSTARS request for information,” said Maj. Kate Stowe, aircraft and communications team lead. “We received some great technical information to help us move forward and identify the solutions for the program.”
The JSTARS Recapitalization team intends to field 16 modern aircraft with an on-board battle management command and control suite, advanced communication subsystem and an updated sensor. The recapitalized system will also interact with all elements of the theater air control system, which includes JSTARS and AWACS aircraft, control and reporting centers and air operations centers.
According to program officials, some of the specific items they are also looking into include a Federal Aviation Administration-certified flight deck, an air refueling capability and an airframe that would accommodate a 10- to 13-person aircrew.
During the event, attendees received a first-hand look at several business jet class aircraft that were on display from prospective contractors.
In addition to airframe possibilities, industry representatives discussed other solutions ranging from communications to power capabilities to integration.
Stowe emphasized that “this is not a development program” and the Service intends to use mature communication solutions. “We need the ability to swap new modes of commercial hardware without major redesign or modifications to infrastructure,” she said.
The industry week is part of the risk reduction phase where the Air Force uses existing contracts to define interfaces, refine requirements, enable demos and issue preliminary designs.
The Air Force also hopes to utilize open systems architecture to promote competition, which will enable new capabilities to be added quicker and more affordably throughout the JSTARS’s life cycle.
“Overall the event was a huge success, and we are very thankful to all the companies that participated,” Stowe said. “The government needs industry’s help if we are going meet the war fighters’ needs on time. Over the next few months we will continue to gather market research through meaningful interaction with industry.”