Congress is asking the Defense Secretary and Secretary of the Air Force to look at the acquisition process for the next generation JSTARS program, in hopes of shrinking the development phase and speeding up production and delivery. “Delays by the Department of Defense in reaching a Milestone A decision on the next generation Joint Surveillance and Target Attack Radar System [JSTARS] program remain a source of concern,” according to a provision of the $1.15 trillion omnibus spending bill. The provision directs USAF Secretary Deborah Lee James to brief congressional defense committees less than two months after the spending bill is approved on the status of the program and options to accelerate it. The bill also requires James to submit a report on modifications to the E-8 JSTARS fleet less than a month after the Fiscal 2017 budget request is submitted. That report must detail how the Air Force plans to address global air traffic management mandates, and other changes needed to meet warfighter requirements and avoid mission performance degradation until the E-8 is replaced by the next-generation JSTARS system, according to the provision. The appropriations bill is expected to pass this week. (See also: Pentagon Approves JSTARS Recap and NDAA Sets Aircraft Minimums.)
The U.S. supports “a stronger and more capable” European defense, Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III said during an Oct. 22 press conference in Brussels—but that defense should not duplicate the functions and capabilities of the NATO alliance.