Air Combat Command boss Gen. Michael Hostage lists a replacement for the E-8 JSTARS battle management aircraft among his top three or four priorities. “It’s important to me,” said Hostage on Tuesday during an AFA-sponsored, Air Force breakfast event in Arlington, Va. But, due to the budget constraints from sequestration, “I would have to fund it out of hide” by taking cuts in current programs, he said. The geographic combatant commanders that he supports do not like the idea of near term reductions, he added. The Air Force conducted an analysis of alternatives on a JSTARS replacement and proposed a business-jet class aircraft as the platform for the ground surveillance radar, command, and control systems and a crew of 10 to 12. But the Air Force has been unable to fund a major new start within the restricted budget. The JSTARs are expected to remain in service until 2030. Hostage stressed the importance of the JSTARs and the E-3 AWACS aircraft to control the air battle space. Because potential adversaries are working on ways to disrupt that control, the Air Force is working on “distributed control,” he said. Centralized command and decentralized execution is something that makes the US military unique, Hostage added.
Oct. 20, 2021