It isn’t often that every congressional committee involved in budgeting for the defense department tells a military service it is on the wrong track, but that is what has happened with Air Force plans to recapitalize the Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS). Authorizers and appropriators in both chambers say the Air Force is taking too long to field replacement planes, and they are moving to compress the schedule. The sense of urgency arises from the fact that existing JSTARS planes are so decrepit they could be grounded at any moment. Yet the service is trying to delay recapitalization until a new radar can be developed — requiring a multiyear delay before initial operational capability. The committees want the Air Force to use an off-the-shelf business jet and mature radar technology to find a successor to JSTARS fast, thereby avoiding a potential gap in battlefield intelligence. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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