Sometime this week, the U.S. Air Force will unveil its official rationale for killing a long-planned replacement of the J-Stars radar plane. J-Stars is a unique warfighting asset that can track and image moving ground targets through clouds, dust or the dead of night, delivering vital reconnaissance to U.S. ground forces. But after five different analyses of what a replacement should look like — the current fleet of 16 planes has grown quite aged — the service has suddenly decided a sixth study is needed. Apparently it now wants to put the ground-tracking radar on drones rather than a manned aircraft. It’s very unlikely this concept can be made to work anytime soon, and meanwhile the existing fleet is becoming too difficult to keep airworthy. Congress needs to put its foot down and insist the Air Force follow direction from authorizing and appropriating committees regarding timely replacement of the present fleet. Otherwise, the lives of a lot of U.S. soldiers could be on the line in future conflicts. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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