Everybody Loves ISR

ISR is the “No. 1 desire of the combatant commanders,” and the Air Force is adding some additional MQ-9s to meet that need while also working to alleviate stress on operators, Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday. Air Force Chief Gen. Mark Welsh said the service’s time, money, and attention over the past eight or nine years has been on the medium-altitude unmanned fleet because of the demand, but “we have got to get back at looking at what [does] a theater’s worth of ISR look like to a joint force commander in a bigger, broader theater that’s not involved in just a low-intensity conflict or counterterrorism flight.” Welsh said the Air Force has roughly $40 million in its Fiscal 2017 budget for the recapitalization of weapons storage facilities, and nearly $700 million over the next five years. The service is currently working on the missile storage facility at F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo., with work planned to begin at Barksdale AFB, La., in 2018. “We’re on track, it’s funded,” he said, noting that the design work that has been done at F.E. Warren will provide a standard that can be modified by each wing. “That contract should be let this year,” Welsh said.