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New Joint STARS Engines Get Civil Nod: The Air Force’s program to install new engines on its fleet of E-8C Joint STARS ground surveillance aircraft took another step forward with the completion last week of FAA certification flight testing, lead contractor Northrop Grumman announced Oct. 22. Next up are military certification test flights, which are scheduled to begin in December using the Joint STARS testbed aircraft, the company said. The Air Force is swapping the E-8C’s current Pratt & Whitney JT3D engines for new P&W JT8D-219 powerplants that offer improved performance, including less fuel consumption and less noise. “They also allow the aircraft to climb faster and fly higher, increasing surveillance capabilities,” said Tom Vice, Northrop Grumman Integrated Systems Eastern Region sector vice president. The company expect the first operational Joint STARS to have the new engines in late 2010.