P-8A secretly acquires mission to rival Joint STARS

The Boeing P-8A Poseidon has secretly acquired a new role for the USNavy that will transform the maritime patrol aircraft into a rival ofthe US Air Force’s Northrop Grumman E-8C Joint Surveillance TargetAttack Radar System (JSTARS).

Details of the mission surfaced today in a press release issued byRaytheon, which announced receiving a multi-year contract to develop anadvanced new radar for the P-8A programme.

According to Raytheon, the advanced airborne sensor (AAS) will become asuccessor to the littoral surveillance radar system (LSRS), which isoperational today on a small subset of the Lockheed P-3C fleet.

As a sensor that can track moving targets on the ground, the canoe-pod LSRS allowed some P-3Cs to shift into the overland surveillance mission, performing a role normally reserved for the USAF’s E-8C fleet.

Until the Raytheon announcement, USN officials had never proposed the idea of installing an LSRS-type sensor on the P-8A fleet. Rather, the USN had maintained that the P-8A fleet would be focused on the USN’s core maritime patrol mission, and especially dedicated to the anti-submarine warfare threat.

“We will be ready with intelligent technology when the Poseidon takes its place as the Navy’s ISR capability in the fleet,” said Capt Scott Anderson, AAS and LSRS programme manager, who was quoted in the Raytheon press release.

Neither Raytheon, Boeing nor USN officials were available to comment on the press release today.

The existence of the mechanically-scanned LSRS sensor only became known in 2006, when Boeing announced the system had been used to track moving ground targets and cue a strike by the standoff land attack missile – expanded response (SLAM-ER). Last year, Raytheon also revealed that the LSRS could track moving targets making a 90-degree turn.

The USN plans to buy 117 P-8As to partly replace the P-3C fleet. Meanwhile, Northrop Grumman is building another 48-68 RQ-4N broad area maritime surveillance (BAMS) aircraft to complete the P-3C replacement.

Boeing formally rolled out the P-8A in a ceremony on 30 July in Renton, Washington, which occurred more than two months after the programme achieved first flight. Boeing also received a new contract on 30 July to start building three more test aircraft, joining five more already on contract.


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4 Responses to P-8A secretly acquires mission to rival Joint STARS

  1. Dave 31 July, 2009 at 10:35 pm #

    Who writes this stuff? It’s like someone failed in film class and moved over into PR…

  2. Puppethead 1 August, 2009 at 4:58 pm #

    Were we expected to believe that those centreline pylons were solely for JDAMs?

  3. Sven Ortmann 1 August, 2009 at 7:33 pm #

    The British use(d?) their Nimrod MPAs over Afghanistan.

    Synthetic aperture radars have the capability of creating 3D images of objects from 300 km afar through clouds and fog. This is invaluable for the identification of objects from outside anti-air missile range. A SAR mode is a natural requirement for a MPA radar, and it’s reasonable to increase the overall versatility by taking over-land missions into account during development.

  4. Wolfpack 29 December, 2009 at 9:54 pm #

    I really don`t like military aircraft face like civilian airplane. Could be a reason for a catastrophe if some one confuse the both airplanes. The P8A seems to be vulnerable to SAM missiles comes from under water.

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