The compromise on the Fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act will give the Air Force some flexibility in the future of its EC-130H Compass Call fleet, instead of completely blocking retirement of the aircraft like previous version of the bill. The NDAA includes an amendment to authorize the Air Force to look to re-host mission equipment of the Compass Call on a “more operationally effective and survivable airborne platform to meet combatant commander requirements,” according to a summary of the bill released by the House Armed Services Committee. The Air Force can only procure the first two of a planned 10 aircraft buy until the Air Force can certify the new aircraft will meet combatant command requirements. However, the compromise legislation still blocks the Air Force from retiring the E-8C JSTARS. The Air Force hoped to retire the 17-aircraft JSTARS fleet in 2019 and multiple contractors are building their planned entries for the next generation of the aircraft.
As the U.S. continues to pursue a diplomatic resolution with Russia over its troop buildup on the Ukraine border, the Defense Department is looking into what capabilities it will need to reassure NATO allies if Russia does launch an invasion, its top spokesperson said Jan. 21.