Sixty members of Congress, including most members of the defense authorization and appropriations panels in the House, are pressing the Pentagon to get moving on recapitalization of the Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System (JSTARS). The fleet of 16 ground-tracking radar planes is a technological marvel, but its impressive functionality is hosted on second-hand Boeing 707s that are fast approaching the end of their useful service lives. The Air Force’s plan to spend 12 years acquiring a mere 17 replacement planes will take way too long, as the legislators pointed out in a November 20 letter to defense secretary Ashton Carter. That time needs to be compressed so JSTARS-type technology is available continuously to help target elusive adversaries over the next two decades. But in order for the Air Force to get moving on recapitalization, bureaucrats in the Office of the Secretary of Defense have to give the go-ahead. I have written a commentary for Forbes explaining the stakes that can be read here.
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