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Lawmakers Ask Air Force to Speed Up Ground Surveillance Fleet Recapitalization

JSTARSDefense committees in both chambers of Congress have called on the U.S. Air Force to speed up its recapitalization effort for the service’s legacy ground surveillance fleet, Defense News reported Friday.

Lara Seligman writes the current Air Force review on how long the existing Northrop Grumman-built E-8 Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System can operate is set to complete in March 2017.

The legacy E-8 JSTARS features a Boeing 707-300 airframe that conducts ground surveillance and battle management support missions for ground and air commanders, according to the report.

The Air Force told Defense News the selection for a replacement fleet is set for the first quarter of fiscal year 2018 and that the initial operational capability for the new fleet is scheduled in fiscal 2024.

Lawmakers expressed concern that an extended search for a replacement fleet could impair ground moving target indicators and battle management command and control systems, Defense News reports.

The House Armed Service’s version of the defense policy bill approved May 18 states that the Defense Department could see a “shortfall of 10 JSTARS aircraft in its fleet of 16 operational aircraft by late fiscal year 2025,” the report says.

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