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Joint STARS engine contract: Northrop Grumman announced Tuesday that it has received a $223.6 million contract from the Air Force for sets of new engines for two E-8C Joint STARS ground-surveillance aircraft. Each set contains four Pratt & Whitney JT8D-219 engines, plus the associated pylon assemblies and connectors. Deliveries are expected to start in 2011, pending final military certification of these new engines on the Joint STARS testbed aircraft, the company said. These are the first two operational E-8Cs to get the new engines, which will offer greater reliability and fuel efficiency and allow the aircraft to operate from shorter runways. This all translates into more time on station for these aircraft, which have been essential in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.