Tim Ripley/DUBAI

Northrop Grumman is offering Middle East customers a business jet-mounted version of its Joint STARS airborne ground surveillance (AGS) radar system.

The US defence electronics giant says the system can be available by the middle of the next decade at a "competitive" price.

The company says its offer includes the upgraded sensors being developed for the USAF's E-8C Joint STARS surveillance and battle management aircraft under the previously secret Radar Technology Insertion Programme (RTIP).

"We are getting a high level of interest from the region," says Robert Zeiser, Northrop Grumman's director of business development for AGS. "They recognise the way the US has decided to go with the RTIP."

Northrop Grumman stresses that the US government and congress has shown its support for Joint STARS and RTIP by ordering two additional E-8C aircraft this year.

"We are technology leaders in this field," says Zeiser. "The unique thing about the new radar being developed for RTIP is that it is modular and scalable in design to match up on any platform. International customers are not bound by the size of a jet - it can be carried on mid-sized jets, business jets or unmanned aerial vehicles.

"RTIP has new radar modes - this is a strategic development," says Zeiser. "It can track targets in moving target indicator and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) at the same time. Today's systems do not allow this."

The RTIP provides five modes of operation, including spot SAR, MTI wide area, ultra-high resolution SAR, inverse SAR and high range resolution SAR.

"Customers will have 21st Century, fourth generation capability radar that is not available anywhere else."

During the recent Kosovo conflict the Joint STARS was a high demand and low density asset, says Zeiser. USAF E-8Cs flew 110 sorties during the conflict.

"One lesson from Kosovo was that a common picture across the allies was very important to coalition warfare," he says.

Source: Flight Daily News