B-1 teams up with Joint STARS

Released: Jul 29, 1997

by Senior Airman Alexandra V. Mace
28th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

ELLSWORTH AIR FORCE BASE, S.D. (AFNS) -- B-1B bomber aircrews en route to a bombing destination will soon have more assistance locking on to their target. This assistance, thanks to the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System, 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. (Courtesy of Air Combat Command News Service)