...from a warfighter's perspective, tactical intelligence was not good. What I got, I had to get myself. It was late and did not give me the chance to exploit. You would have thought that someone would have given me access to Joint STARS.
--LTG Ronald Griffith, US Army
Joint STARS components consist of two major subgroups:
The E-8 aircraft is a militarized Boeing 707-300 series aircraft. The aircraft currently carries a flight and mission crew of 21 Army and Air Force personnel.
Currently, there are 3 very high frequency (VHF), 12 ultra-high frequency (UHF), and 2 high frequency (HF) radios on the E-8. In addition, there are 2 Joint Tactical Information Dissemination Systems (JTIDSs) and 1 Surveillance and Control Data Link (SCDL) data terminal for digital communications. The E-8 will have this communication suite and a Constant Source terminal. Constant Source is a signals intelligence (SIGINT) feed into the E-8 which allows correlation of Joint STARS data with other intelligence data.
The E-8 is equipped with a phased-array radar antenna housed in a 26-foot canoe-shaped radome located under the forward part of the fuselage. The E-8 houses the radar equipment in the forward bottom cargo bay directly above the radome. The cargo bay can be accessed from inside the plane, allowing for limited inflight maintenance of the radar.
In addition to communications antennas, the E-8 aircraft has two SCDL antennas. One SCDL antenna is mounted on the top, and one is mounted on the bottom of the E-8 aircraft to provide a continual datalink to the GSM, even when the E-8 turns during flight. Figure 2-1 shows the configuration of the interior of the E-8.
The E-8 operates at a maximum ceiling of 42,000 feet with a planning endurance time of 11 hours (20 hours with in-flight refueling). The crew can be expanded to 35 personnel for extended missions. A normal mission profile provides for 8 hours of on-station time with 2 hours total transit time to and from the orbit area.
A 5-channel intercommunications system, which links all workstations and flight crew positions, provides the internal communications for the E-8. This system allows the functional areas of flight, command, surveillance, weapons, intelligence, and maintenance to conduct mission coordination in flight. There are also three plug-in communications boxes not associated with workstations which can be used while walking around or standing behind a workstation.
The external communications provide voice and data transmissions for line-of-sight (LOS) and non-line-of-sight (NLOS) communications.
The communications suite allows the mission crew to provide voice and digital information. The crew conducts mission coordination with a variety of command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) and sensor platforms, weapons systems, and ground command, control, communications, computers, and intelligence (C4I) nodes. Satellite communications (SATCOM) provides capability for NLOS communications to Joint C4I nodes, to GSMs out of LOS, and during force projection operations when GSMs have not arrived in theater.
The communications suite also allows for digital links over JTIDS, SCDL, and Constant Source. JTIDS provides digital processed intelligence reports and targeting updates into the E-8. It also allows E-8 operators to pass information to other Air Force platforms and C4I nodes such as AWACS. The Joint STARS moving target indicator (MTI) and synthetic aperture radar (SAR) data are transmitted over the SCDL to all GSMs within LOS.
The SCDL also allows for reprocessed radar data which includes tracked versus unknown indications, target locations, E-8 location and speed, and information time tags. The SCDL carries the RSR and freetext messages from the GSM to the operators on the E-8. Figure 2-2 shows the SCDL and JTIDS information exchange capabilities.
The following are major communications equipment on the E-8:
Operation and Control Console Capabilities. The O&C console subsystem allows the mission crew to access the radar data in real-time on their consoles. These are basically the same capabilities that exist in the GSMs as shown in Figure 2-3. The workstations allow operators to tailor the radar products to their needs. They can access databases to provide amplifying information on friendly and enemy order of battle (OB), receive and send freetext messages over SCDL, and conduct crew coordination. The operators can perform history playback, construct SAR mosaics, track targets, and perform target position predictions. There is also a printer capability to provide prints of time-designated screen displays with complete annotations.
The mission crew can zoom in or out on the surveillance area by adjusting the scale parameters on the cartographic image displayed on their console screens. The operator can measure and display distance and azimuth between specific geographic points contained in the database and between selected targets. All necessary graphics, including standard military symbols, can be drawn or retrieved from the database for display on the screens.
The operators can conduct time and route prediction. The estimated time of target arrival to selected points or along selected routes can be predicted along with the route predictions. This reinforces the targeting capabilities of the system. Mission crew members (in coordination with DAA, ground or naval weapons systems, and land forces) can track designated target sets into specified kill zones. They can then notify the supported weapon systems or forces of target arrival or target deviation from the predicted route in NRT.
The time compression function refers to the ability to record MTI radar data over time and then fast forward the data frames (similar to a commercial video cassette recorder [VCR]). This capability is useful in tracking the target start point, route, and end point over a selected period. This provides the cue on where to image the target with SAR. The SAR helps identify possible assembly areas, command posts (CPs), logistics sites, and defensive positions for targeting.
The time integration function refers to the ability of the system to overlay successive frames on top of each other over a selected period and display them all at onetime on the screen. This allows for the rapid identification of main supply routes (MSRs) and LOCs. From this information, possible rest sites, assembly areas, and logistics sites, for example, can be determined. The time integration function is in all GSMs. This function also provides cross-cuing for other sensors (or SAR) to confirm and target the locations. The operator must be careful when analyzing this type of target signature; other targets such as powerlines and concertina wire could be confused with "route-like signatures" targets.
Radar Capabilities. The E-8 radar is capable of looking deep into hostile and potentially hostile areas to detect, locate, classify, and track a variety of targets. It can be operated in two basic radar modes: MTI and SAR. The primary MTI mode is called wide area surveillance (WAS). WAS is the prime mode in radar which covers beyond a notional corps area called the ground reference coverage area (GRCA). Figure 2-4 shows an example of GRCA.
The interleaving capability of the radar allows the system to perform multiple operations (such as MTI, sector search, and SAR) without disrupting the WAS revisit rate (unless many operations are being conducted simultaneously). The mission crew and GSM crew operators do not see any major disruption of data on their screens because of the high processing capability and NRT transmission of the radar data over SCDL.
The MTI mode locates moving vehicles, rotating antennas, and slow-moving aircraft. This mode presents dots on a workstation monitor representing targets moving at a given speed on the ground. The radar can perform a target classification function of tracked versus wheeled versus unknown (Block I series of GSMs only). The location of the target or target sets can be selected in either universal transverse mercator (UTM) or latitudinal and longitudinal coordinates.
In addition to WAS, MTI consists of four other sub-modes: sector search (SS), attack planning (AP), attack control (AC), and small area target classification (SATC). These subsets of MTI are used in special cases when a critical and scarce targeting asset is used against a high-payoff target (HPT). The MTI sub-modes are used for the following:
The radar can also be operated in SAR and fixed-target indicator (FTI) modes. In the SAR mode it can produce a still radar image of a given target, installation, or piece of terrain. It is best used to locate those moving targets that have become stationary and are suspected to be in a given area. Stationary targets are detected and registered in their geographic position in the SAR image. This SAR function is usually cued by activity previously seen in the MTI mode. The vehicles targeted are automatically detected and highlighted. A SAR image looks much like a black and white picture negative with highly radar reflective surfaces showing up as bright spots.
The FTI mode provides a display of only the stationary targets. The targets are more easily recognized because in the FTI mode the target dot is presented on the screen without any surrounding terrain.
SAR also allows limited target damage assessment (TDA) in addition to its targeting application. The images do not allow an operator to determine if a vehicle has been destroyed, only that it is stationary. It can show damage to large manmade structures, such as bridges.
Self-Defense Suite Capabilities. The SDS on board the E-8 is designed to provide some measures of defense against air and ground threats. The SDS provides the aircrew with continuous situational awareness and has an end-game countermeasures package designed to protect the aircraft from various types of air-and ground-launched missiles. It receives threat information over JTIDS and Constant Source terminals from AWACS, Airborne Command and Control Center (ABCCC), RIVET JOINT, other air- and ground-based sensors, and C3I nodes. The navigator staffs this position and conducts all navigation functions in addition to the SDS functions.
The GSMs have evolved through several product models. (See Figures 2-5 and 2-6 for an overview of Joint STARS GSM evolution and capabilities.)
The first system was called the Interim Ground Station Module (IGSM). The current system is the Block I series (Medium Ground Station Module [MGSM] and Light Ground Station Module [LGSM]). The future system will be the Block II Common Ground Station (CGS).
The IGSM (AN/TSQ-l32(V)1) is an S-679 shelter on a modified 5-ton cargo truck. It is staffed by a team of six Army personnel and consists of a ground data terminal (GDT), a communications system, and an operations system. Together, these systems allow operators to manipulate data received from the E-8 aircraft. Figure 2-7 shows the configuration of the IGSM.
Exterior. The IGSM system is comprised in part by two 30 kW 50 to 60 Hz generator power units which connect to the IGSM shelter via a control monitor and a 100-foot power cable on all IGSMs. These generators are towed by two M-923 series 5-ton cargo trucks. One five-ton truck is unmodified and is used as a support truck to carry spare equipment and other mission-essential items. The other 5-ton truck is modified with a mechanical leveling system and is used to carry the IGSM shelter. The IGSM shelter is an S-679 which has intake and exhaust vents, an environmental control unit, and a retractable 100-foot pneumatic mast and cable reel system as modifications. Atop the mast is the SCDL and a UHF antenna.
Interior. The IGSM shelter houses two operator consoles, each consisting of a scan screen, two menu driven flat panels, and a militarized keyboard and trackball. Figure 2-8 shows the interior of an IGSM. These consoles receive data from the GDT via input and output controllers. The GDT consists of a digital-to-digital converter (DDC), 400 Hz converter, lower control unit, Joint STARS interface unit (JSIU), and SCDL.
Graphics (roads, borders, cities, and overlay control measures) are digitized from maps onto the screens via a digitizer, small and large plotting boards, and a map "bug." (A map bug is an electronic device that allows operators to trace map data and graphics and transfer information to the computer, which enables maps and graphics to be displayed on the operator's monitor.) Data and graphics are stored on removable disks.
The AYK-14 computer controls the system. An AN/VRC-83 UHF radio provides voice communications with the E-8 aircraft. Two TA-312/PT telephones, now in all IGSMs, provide voice communications. The third TA-312 has been replaced by mobile subscriber equipment (MSE), KY-68, which is used for landline secure voice communications. SINCGARS (AN/VRC-92) radios are used to transmit TACFIRE data. Hard copies of messages are printed on a line printer, and a three-color screen printer produces a color hard copy of the forward screen. Figure 2-9 shows at a glance what the Joint STARS MTI and SAR can and cannot do for the commander.
Capabilities. The IGSM receives NRT data to include MTI and SAR from the E-8 platform and MTI from the Mohawk UPD-7 platform. Figure 2-10 is an example of IGSM interfaces. The IGSM is able to receive Joint STARS MTI imagery.
The types of MTI that can be received are WAS, SS, AP, AC, and SATC. This data is then analyzed and disseminated to supported units via available communications systems. Each operator--
The IGSM operator can communicate with supported units via voice landline, UHF, VHF, TACFIRE, MSE, or SCDL freetext messages to the E-8 or other IGSMs. He can also send a hard copy via messenger. The IGSM may request images of a specific area through voice communication with the E-8 or an RSR for any type of MTI coverage via the SCDL.
The MGSM (AN/TSQ-l68) is an S-751 shelter mounted on a modified 5-ton cargo truck. It is staffed by a team of six Army personnel and consists of a GDT, a communications system, and an operations system. Together, these systems allow operators to manipulate data received from the E-8 aircraft. Except where noted, the MGSM has the same capabilities as the IGSM.
The MGSM system is comprised of two 30 kW 50 to 60 Hz mobile generator power units which connect to the MGSM shelter. These generators are towed by two M-923 series 5-ton cargo trucks. One 5-ton truck is unmodified and is used as a support truck to carry spare equipment and other mission-essential items. The MGSM shelter has a positive overpressure system, an environmental control unit, and a retractable 30-foot pneumatic mast and cable reel system as modifications. The SCDL is mounted on top of the mast.
The MGSM shelter houses two operator consoles, each consisting of a high resolution screen and a militarized keyboard and trackball. These consoles receive data from the JSIU. Graphics (roads, borders, cities) are digitized from maps onto the screens via a digitizer and a map "bug." Data and graphics are stored on a data storage cartridge. An AN/VRC-83 UHF radio is used for voice communications with the E-8. The AN/VRC-92 SINCGARS radios are used to transmit voice and data messages to TACFIRE.
The GSM can pass information to its supported units, to the E-8, or other GSMs via voice landline, UHF, VHF, hardwire KY-68, MSE, facsimile (FAX), hard copies, SCDL freetext, SATCOM, cellular telephone, 312, and STU-III messages. Operators may request images of a specific area through voice communication with the E-8 or an RSR for any type of Joint STARS imagery via the SCDL.
The Block I MGSM receives real-time MTI data and NRT SAR from the E-8 platform. It can pull up UAV data or video on a small "window" on the console screen. The Block I MGSM is able to receive Joint STARS WAS, SS, AC, AP, and SATC. This data is then analyzed and disseminated to supported units via several available communications systems. Figure 2-11 shows the characteristics of the Block I MGSM. Only a total of 12 MGSMs will be built.
The LGSM, AN/TSQ-l78, is transported on two high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs) with trailers. One HMMWV is configured as the mission operations vehicle and primary mission equipment.
The vehicle also provides CTT, VHF, UHF, and UHF SATCOM communication capabilities. The second HMMWV is configured as the support vehicle with generator trailer. Primary component in the support vehicle is a 30-foot SCDL mast or ground-mounted tripod. Other components in the support vehicle include two crew seats, camouflage netting, and cables.
The LGSM system is comprised, in part, of two 15 kW 50 to 60 Hz mobile generator power units which connect to the LGSM shelter. These generators are towed by two HMMWVs. The LGSM shelter has a positive over-pressure system and environmental control unit. The LGSM can use a removable SCDL head mounted on a tripod in lieu of the mast.
The mission support LGSM shelter houses two operator consoles, each consisting of a high resolution screen and a militarized keyboard and trackball. These consoles receive data from the CTT, UAV ground control station (GCS), all-source analysis system (ASAS) and TACFIRE, WAS, SS, AP, AC, SATC, MTI, FTI, and SAR imagery. Graphics (roads, borders, cities) are digitized from maps onto the screens via a digitizer and a map "bug." Data and graphics are stored in data storage cartridges. AN/VRC83 UHF and VHF radio are used for voice communications with the E-8. AN/VRC-92 SINCGARS radios are used to transmit voice and TACFIRE data. A KY-68 MSE secure telephone is used to transmit information to and from ASAS. Copies of messages are printed on a line printer, and a three-color screen printer produces a color hard copy of the console screen.
The Block I MGSM is exactly the same as the LGSM in communications equipment.
The Block I LGSM has virtually the same capabilities as the Block I MGSM except that it is transported by a different prime mover and has SATCOM receive on-the-move capability. Also because of the inherent flexibility built into the LGSM, it is easy to achieve technological upgrades and accomplish vehicle reconfiguration to support operations. For example, the vehicles can move with the Tactical Operations Center (TOC), receive SCDL data on the move, and setup quickly to support the commander. Figure 2-12 shows LGSM characteristics.
The CGS will provide commanders a greatly expanded and automated capability to receive, process, correlate, and display NRT intelligence data from all available sensors. Evolutionary growth and retrofit of existing GSMs will upgrade capabilities and functions.
The CGS will have all the functions of the GSMs, to include improvements in processing, data reception, and data distribution. CGS will be able to receive, process, and correlate data directly from new and/or additional sensors and processors such as Advanced QUICKFIX (AQF), ground based common sensor (GBCS), and tactical exploitation of national capabilities (TENCAP) systems. The CGS--
--Live full motion video (such as National Television Standards Committee or Phase Alternating Line) from camera, tape recorder, or video disc.
--Forward-looking infrared (FLIR) input.
--Other electro-optical or infrared imaging capable system input as technology permits.
--Assigned or attached sensors through manual or automated inputs as designated.
--GBCS, AQF, and long range surveillance units (LRSUs).
--GUARDRAIL Common Sensor (GRCS) and Airborne Reconnaissance Low (ARL).
--National sensor systems.
Initially, the CGS requires secondary data distribution and communications capability, such as SATCOM or MSE between GSMs.