The House Armed Services Committee wants to speed up JSTARS recapitalization, it makes clear in a report on its version of the National Defense Authorization Act. The committee “encourages” Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James to develop a plan, with incentives in the JSTARS recapitalization Engineering and Manufacturing Development and procurement contracts, to “accelerate the development, procurement, and fielding” of the JSTARS recapitalization project. Included in the report is a request for James to brief HASC by Dec. 1 on the recapitalization; at that hearing, she must present one option for accelerating initial operational capability to Fiscal 2022 and another option for accelerating IOC to Fiscal 2023. Right now, IOC is expected in 2024, though it has been pushed back multiple times. The HASC version of the NDAA also prohibits the retirement of any JSTARS aircraft in 2018. (See also: The JSTARS Recap from the February 2015 issue of Air Force Magazine.)
The Air Force overall reduced its size by 120 aircraft in fiscal year 2021, but kept about the same number of fighter, bomber and attack aircraft, according to data supplied by the service. The F-35 fleet saw the biggest increase while the B-1B bomber fleet saw the largest decline.