The E-8C joint surveillance target attack radar system (Joint STARS) aircraft is currently being used in the Michigan National Guard-hosted exercise, Northern Strike 2017.
Approximately 5,000 army, air force, marine, and special forces service members from 13 states and five coalition countries are taking part in the exercise, which is being held at Camp Grayling Joint Maneuver Training Center in Northern Michigan, US.
Northern Strike 2017 aims to allow US military units to attain and sustain proficiency in conducting mission command, air, sea, and ground manoeuvre integration, together with the synchronisation of fires in a joint, multinational, decisive action environment.
The JSTARS team consists of the Georgia Air National Guard 116th Air Control Wing, active duty 461st Air Control Wing, and Army JSTARS.
As an advanced ground surveillance and battle management system, the E-8C’s role during the exercise is to provide battle management command and control as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data.
116th Air Control Wing, Georgia Air National Guard128th Airborne Command and Control Squadron mission crew commander lieutenant colonel Kenneth Billings said: "The very realistic training scenarios during Northern Strike 2017 have presented Team JSTARS with abundant opportunities to hone our wartime capabilities while incorporating our joint and multinational partners."
A modified Boeing 707, the E-8C is equipped with 22 radios, seven data links, two internets and a secure telephone capability, which are all operated by 21 personnel.
The JSTARS team provides simultaneous wide-area joint airborne command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance support over land and water from a manned platform to combatant commanders worldwide.
Based out of Robins Air Force Base, Georgia, the world's only Joint STARS weapon system is operated by the Total Force Integration and joint force unit.
Image: An E-8C Joint STARS taxis down the runway during a morning mission at Robins Air Force Base, Georgia. Photo: courtesy of Senior Master Sgt. Roger Parsons.