LtCol David Heinz, U.S. Marine Corps

On 9 December, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition, Mr. John W. Douglass, approved the Advanced Tactical Airborne Reconnaissance System (ATARS) to execute its second year of low-rate initial production (LRIP II).

With this approval, the Navy will procure 6 additional ATARS suites under a firm fixed price delivery order to The Boeing Company. The Navy will also procure the first 4 production Data Link Pod Systems. These systems provide near real-time transmission of digital electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) or Synthetic Aperture Radar imagery to a Common Imaging Ground/Surface Station (CIG/SS) compatible ground exploitation station (i.e., the Joint Services Imagery Processing System - Navy (JSIPS-N) or the U.S. Marine Corps Tactical Exploitation Group (TEG)). These ATARS units will be delivered to Fleet Marine Force squadrons for use on F/A-18D fleet aircraft beginning in Summer 1999. The negotiated delivery order will also provide for:

As established in the Acquisition Strategy, the criteria for LRIP II decision was a successful demonstration of improved reliability using the pre-production equipment transferred from the Air Force when they terminated participation in the ATARS program in 1993. The program was able to demonstrate a five fold increase in reliability over testing conducted last year through the use of the new Schlumberger Digital Tape Recorders developed under the ATARS program and improvements in software.

Production verification testing on LRIP I units purchased last year is scheduled to begin in August 1998. This will be followed by operational testing in November 1998 and initial operational capability in March 1999.