One of the big holes in the Air Force’s ISR plan has been the wide area surveillance mission since the cancellation of the E-10 program in Fiscal 2007. The E-10 was the planned successor to the E-8 Joint STARS as well as potentially E-3 AWACS and RC-135 Rivet Joint aircraft. Col. Dash Jamieson, director of ISR transformation at the Air Staff, told the Precision Strike Association gathering in Washington yesterday that the Air Force will re-examine the mission as its builds its Fiscal 2010 program objective memorandum, but she did not specify where the mission would lead or what platforms are being considered. “As we continue down the air dominance domain, it is going to be a factor to get through all the data that we’ve come upon,” she said. Despite the E-10’s cancellation, USAF has continued to fund development of the sophisticated ground-surveillance radar, or MP-RTIP, that was to go on the aircraft. A smaller variant of this radar is being integrated with the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle. It could also be installed on the Joint STARS, industry has said, if the Air Force opts for that.
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.