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Air Force’s JSTARS Replacement Faces Questions Amid Budget Uncertainty; Gen. Mark Welsh, James Poss Comment

JSTARSThe U.S. Air Force faces questions regarding size requirements of its planned joint surveillance target attack radar system replacement as the service seeks congressional funding to upgrade the aircraft, Defense News reported Thursday.

Aaron Mehta writes that Gen. Mark Welsh, Air Force chief of staff, recently indicated the service has started reviewing options for the next-generation surveillance aircraft but noted that the Air Force has yet to define requirements for the new system.

“There is debate going on in Congress on the Hill about the JSTARS program,” Welsh said.

“As that is resolved, we’ll decide how we can move forward, but getting too far ahead of the curve before we know we have the support of our financial partners might not be a great idea.”

The report also quoted Maj. Gen. (ret.) James Poss, deputy chief of staff for ISR for the U.S. Air Force, as also saying that it would be hard to convince Congress to fund the JSTARS replacement program in the midst of government-wide sequestration.

“You need to recap in the front end to see substantial savings in the back end, and that’s difficult to do in a declining budget,” Poss added.

Boeing and Northrop Grumman are competing for a potential contract with the Air Force on the new system, with Boeing planning to modify its 737-700 commercial airliner and Northrop offering its Gulfstream 550 business jet, Mehta reports.

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