Joint STARS completes first flight with new engines
Northrop Grumman’s E 8C Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (Joint STARS) T-3 testbed aircraft has completed its first flight equipped with new, upgraded Pratt and Whitney production-configured engines featuring a newly designed pneumatic system.
The flight comes after three years of design, production and testing according to the company. The newly designed pneumatic system, designed by Northrop Grumman, uses a single stage pre-cooling design that vastly improves reliability and the hardware's life cycle.
The new pre-cooler allows hot, compressed air from the engines turbines to be processed at a substantially cooler temperature and more consistent pressure level than its predecessor. This improves the efficiency of the Air Cycle Machines which cools the aircraft's environmental control system, cabin, and Prime Mission Equipment, as well as pressurises the utility hydraulic subsystem, engine starting capability and liquid cooling system.
According to the company, the new engines are an upgrade from the existing commercial engines used on the E 8C, allowing for an increased mission capable rate and lowered ownership costs. The re-engining of the fleet has the potential to provide the Joint STARS system with significant operational and maintenance improvements.
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