Released: July 25, 1997
by Senior Airman Alexandra V. Mace
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs
ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. -- When B-1B aircrews are en route to
a bombing destination thousands of miles away, they'll soon have more assistance
locking on to their target through the Joint Surveillance Target Attack
Radar System that provides constant real-time moving target information.
A conference was recently held to determine integration between B-1Bs
and Joint STARS, which operates from the E-8C airborne platform. Integration
decisions made at the conference will be put to the test Aug. 4, 6 and 11
when B-1B aircrews fly a mission using Joint STARS for the first time.
"Joint STARS is ideal because it's able to track numerous ground
targets over a long period of time," said Capt. Mike Regan, 28th Operations
Support Squadron wing weapons officer. If B-1B aircrews launch for Kuwait,
which is 17 hours away, the target data they start out with may change greatly
by the time they get there.
Time-critical targeting data can be updated while B-1Bs are en route
or in real-time once B-1Bs are in the area.
"Joint STARS crews are able to pass early target information because
they launch in rapid response to the theater," said Capt. Mike Askew,
93rd Air Control Wing deputy chief of tactics.
Once there, they begin orbiting and searching for targets with a radar
system that covers about 250 miles. Joint STARS operators then pass data
such as target coordinates, elevation and description over secure voice
satellite communications to B-1B aircrews.
Operators pass information such as target coordinates, elevation and
description, said Regan. The radar is designed to track ground targets,
which are mainly vehicles, said Askew.
Regan foresees further modifications in communication and other processes once B-1B and Joint STARS experts evaluate the test integration missions.