Since it was first deployed during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (J-Stars) airborne ground surveillance aircraft has made a major contribution to the U.S. Army and Marine Corps’ attainment of decisive over match in multiple conflicts. Given this, recapitalizing the aging and difficult to maintain J-Stars platform and enhancing its sensors would seem to make a lot of sense. In fact, the Air Force was on the verge of awarding a contract for a new J-Stars that would provide enhanced performance while being cheaper to operate and maintain than the legacy platform. Suddenly, the Air Force appears to be considering reneging on its commitment to provide U.S. ground forces with high quality airborne ground surveillance. Reports are surfacing that the Air Force is thinking about cancelling the J-Stars recap program. The leadership of the U.S. Army must make it clear to the Air Force that it can’t have a do-over when it comes to J-Stars recap. The future of the new Multi-Domain Battle strategy may well be determined by what the Army says to the Air Force regarding J-Stars recap. I have written a commentary on this topic for The National Interest here.
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