The U.S. Air Force operates a small fleet of radar planes that can track moving ground targets day or night, rain or shine. Called JSTARS planes, they have made it possible for coalition fighters to precisely target enemy units in the fog of war without harming friendly forces. But JSTARS planes are second-hand jetliners that had already been flying for dozens of years when they debuted in Operation Desert Storm, so they are downright decrepit today. The Air Force had a plan to quickly replace them, but that plan has stretched out to a duration of 12 years even though it involves buying only a handful of militarized business jets. That is way too long, and will leave U.S. troops without life-saving recon once the legacy fleet is retired early in the next decade. The Air Force needs to speed up its JSTARS recapitalization effort before soldiers die for lack of timely battlefield intelligence. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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